At Calypso, we think that writing—putting pen to paper, or fingers to keys, or voice to text—is the root of effective communication. In fact, we made this idea our foundational belief, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a lackluster writer occupying space in our open office (well, there is this guy).

But we all need to recharge and refocus once in a while, and a holiday vacation offers an opportunity to flex the creative muscle, improve writing skills, and get prepared to rock that first writing assignment of 2016. So, step back from that standup desk and start checking these fun to-dos off your list.

1. Read a book (and, no, the movie version doesn’t count).

You know how they say you emulate the five people you spend the most time with? I think that goes for authors, too. If you want to become a better writer, be a better reader. Spend time with authors you’re comfortable with and ones who intimidate you. Get wrapped up in a good story and notice how some of the author’s best habits seep into your own prose.

2. Go on an adventure.

Just go. Grab some friends or go it alone. Do something you’ve never done before. Be spontaneous and leave the planning for when you have to return to work. Make an epic adventure happen—simple as that. You’re collecting material.

3. Now, tell that epic adventure story.

Here’s your chance to sharpen your storytelling skills. Share the story of your adventure with different people you come across during vacation. Tailor it for different listeners. Each audience you tell will walk away with a different interpretation—make sure it’s awesome. Your grandmother’s chess club? Sure. Your seven-year-old niece and her friends? Definitely. Your pals who missed out on joining the epic-ness? Absolutely.

4. Do a free-write exercise and don’t cheat.

Practice makes perfect. And sometimes being told what to do helps. Check out these writing prompts, or make time in your day to free-write (not work-related). Stop telling yourself you should write more. Sit down and do it.

5. Practice writing in a different format.

I’ve been introduced to some of my favorite creative writers on social media. It’s not easy to say all you need to with 140 characters or fewer on Twitter, and the folks that grab my attention and get to the core of their message concisely, creatively, and strategically quickly earn my admiration. Instagram is also home to impressive writers. The way some users match words to imagery is an art, and my favorite posts are ones with lengthy text. I want to know the story of the photo. Try logging into Twitter and Instagram to share your words with the world. Notice how the different mediums challenge you to get flexible—a coveted writing skill.

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