These past weeks I have been struggling to write anything. Words are hard to come by, and entire paragraphs even harder. I can’t put my finger on why it has been such a challenge. My only answer has been burnout. Sarah and I have been writing flat out for months and months now. And if we weren’t writing, we were planning, researching, or recording our podcast. There was hardly anytime left in my day to relax—every spare minute has been taken up with some sort of creative exercise. I hadn’t managed to fit in any real exercise either.

In hindsight, I think burnout is an apt description for what I was feeling. And despite my efforts to ward it off…It eventually snuck up on me. I tried all my usual tricks to keep writing and creating—taking breaks, going on walks, working on different things, taking time to relax. But it became evident that I needed a break. I needed to get out of the city and go somewhere off the beaten track, away from all my familiar haunts.

And, I’ll be honest, I’m so used to using my time off work to travel overseas that I resigned myself to staying put until Covid was over (it’s not like I could travel anywhere, even if I wanted to). Sure, I took a few overnight trips to nearby towns, and frequently returned to place where I grew up. But going on a massive trip around New Zealand wasn’t on the cards. Truthfully, I was holding out hope for a miracle, that the borders would open and I could go visit my family in Canada (wishful thinking, I know).

In the end, I took a trip around part of the South Island of New Zealand. And it was the tonic I was looking for. Ten blissful days without having to think about ancient Greece, sentence structure, or my character’s voice. I didn’t write a single word of our book—I couldn’t have, even if I wanted to. We were camping, the internet was patchy at best, and most of the reading I did manage to squeeze in, I did by torchlight.

By the time we were on our way back home, I was itching to start writing again. My energy was back, the burnout abated, and I felt refreshed. With my head clear, I actually came up with a number of new ideas. After a couple days getting my life back in order, I sat down to start writing again and it flowed much more effortlessly. Hopefully, I will get a lot more done in the next few weeks. And for the first time in a while, I’m really excited to get down to writing.

Finally, here are a few snaps from my time away, featuring the Pancake Rocks, Castle Hill, the Oparara Arches and the Blue Spring.