I finished my 10-day Do-It-Yourself At Home Writing Retreat, and I learned some new things about my creative process . I got a lot done:
- Edited the first third of my novel manuscript
- Wrote three new poems
- Prepared ideas for cover art for my forthcoming novel
- Wrote a couple of blog posts and some tweets
- Finished the script for a musical
- Had some fun days in nature and in town
It was an experiment, as always. I learned that a writing retreat can be as short or long as you like and can manage. A writing retreat is really just at heart a self-discipline, an intention. A promise you make to yourself to do something deeply pleasing and also productive. I’ve found there are three important elements: time, place, and strategy.
A holiday — any three-day weekend has the golden potential of being a writing retreat time. For a novelist, who must keep writing fiction over an extended period of years, any weekend can become a DIY writer’s retreat. But a holiday weekend has a special glow. A delicious sense of timelessness. The prospect of losing track of TIME gets my creative juices going.
Since it’s a StayWriCation — home-based writer’s retreat — for me the place is imaginary. This is my favorite writer’s retreat place, beside a beautiful ocean. Of course this is Monet’s ocean in Normandy, and I like to think of myself as painted by Monet into it, the woman with the red umbrella standing there. In literal reality, my place is usually a couch in the living room, with an occasional foray to my deck or a coffeehouse with my laptop. PLACE for me is mostly in the landscape of my work in progress.
Deciding on goals is key to a successful StayWriCation — even if you don’t achieve them! I find it key to my every day, planning what I want to accomplish, and then being flexible about what comes. Interruptions happen, new directions, ideas, wishes. If you’re too rigid, inspiration dries up, and if too scattered, nothing happens. So STRATEGIC PLANNING WITH FLEXIBILITY is my best gambit. I think of Bernini’s sculpture of David, aiming at the giant. You can hit the target of a big goal in a compressed amount of time with strategy and a good aim.
More articles on Do-It-Yourself Writing Retreats:
Cynthia Morris’ tips on creating your own retreat
One thing I like in this one is rcruiting allies. When I did my recent DIY retreat, I enlisted the support of writer friends, and the cheering section was like NaNoWriMo, very motivating.