In the fall I take an annual writing retreat and I find that it replenishes my soul. This past weekend I treated myself to a Solo Retreat. I didn’t travel to an exotic location or rent a rustic cabin, or even leave my house.
DH was gone most of the day on Saturday with a flight student, so I had the house to myself. I set some goals for myself, to do classwork and write. I was taking two classes simultaneously – The Artist’s Way at Writer Zen Garden and Writing and Resistance: Overcoming Our Blocks to Success by MM Pollard at RWA Online.
My Retreat went like this:
- Slept in – I’m retreating so working on my own timetable.
- Coffee – I’m a bear without my coffee.
- Morning Pages – It’s part of the Artist’s Way
- Class Work – Basically Log on and do homework. However long that took.
- Lunch – On my lunch break I watched the latest YouTube videos by First Draught and Jenna Moreci. I find this a great way take a break and learn.
- Meditate – I used the 12-minute Focus Meditation on Calm.
- Write for 60 minutes – I’ve been using the help of the 90-day novel by Alan Watt to help flesh out my current WIP.
- Read for 30 minutes- Along with Artist’s Way for class. I’m reading The Art of Working by Jeff Goins that I checked out from my Library.
- Write for 60 minutes
- Read for 30 minutes
- Repeated Steps 8 and 9 until DH came home and we had dinner.
I accomplished my goal and was able to enjoy my One Day Solo Retreat.
Can you do this? Sure you can. It might be easier for me because I live on a farm and don’t have a day job, but this is doable for anyone.
Some recommendations. Pick some goals. Are you burned out? Maybe you need to build more Meditation and Yoga into your retreat than I did. How about a luxurious bubble-bath or painting your toes, etc.
I often listen to Pandora on the farm. I choose stations based on mood. I recommend outdoor time if weather permits. I avoided the snowy sub-zero temps…hence some meditation planned into my day.
Regarding Food – If you love to cook, incorporate this into your retreat. Plan a favorite meal to prepare. If you live in a large city consider delivery so you can enjoy the experience and maybe treat yourself. I like to cook, but I wanted to keep the time to myself so I picked up some fancier microwavable meals. I picked up beverages I like, chocolates, and some snacks I love.
If you have other passions like painting, drawing, knitting, scrapbooking, or other creative pursuits into your retreat…especially if you have more than one day. This is a chance to fill your creative well. Who knows, maybe while you are coloring in a color book…that writer’s block will finally release.
I would caution against spending the day binging TV shows or even reading for pleasure. Not because these things are bad, but because they distract you from yourself. If you want to watch that movie you’ve never seen, or read a book, do it in the evening or maybe only for a couple of hours.
Ultimately a Solo retreat is what you make it.
I’ve returned from a holiday in early December and now Christmas is fast approaching. I’ve gotten most of my shopping done, and need to mail presents.
My goals for the month of December were small. I knew with NANOWRIMO behind me and Thanksgiving being the sign that Christmas was fast approaching, I would feel the rush of the season.
So I put my submissions to agents on hold until the new year. When I do my goal setting for next year, I’ll review whether I still want an agent or if I want to navigate on my own. I’ve been slowly writing during the season to maintain momentum. But if all I do is my Morning Pages, so be it.
I also set a goal to read during the season. I’m a fairly avid reader anyway, but I wanted to look at the season as well…holidays. I’d lost my job and I didn’t want to stress about writing when I might be blocked because of stresses I hadn’t anticipated.
My goal – to keep the season simple and enjoyable.
When I first started in this business over 15 years ago. A common thought was that you needed to quit your job and write full-time in order to be successful (i.e. make money).
Granted the Romance Industry is full of female writers, who maybe started out as a stay at home mom’s and wrote on the side. I believe this is where the myth of full-time writing started. I think of authors like Nora Roberts and Heather Graham whose mythology stories contain elements for writing from home. If any of you think they were successful because they didn’t have a job, you’d be wrong. Motherhood is a full-time job in itself, regardless of whether you work outside the home or not.
I read recently that John Grisham wrote A Time to Kill over three years while still working as a lawyer.
What makes these authors successful is not whether or not they wrote full-time, but that they wrote in every spare moment.
A book I’ve found helpful in carving out time is The Chunky Method Handbook by Allie Pleiter. She breaks writing blocks down so that even the slowest writers among us can create a schedule.
What makes this so relevant to me is that as of December 1st of this year, I’m no longer employed with a company I’d worked with for 21 years. I was released as a series of layoffs.
While my job took time away from writing, if I had made time for it I would’ve been more successful (i.e. written more books). As I head into the new year, I’ll be looking at some serious goal setting. For me it will be evaluating what Success looks like to me – Finishing Books. I feel like everything else will fall into place as long as I just keep writing.
My apologies for missing last Writer Wednesday. I’d returned from an annual Writing Retreat for the Founders of Writer Zen Garden, and found myself forgetting.
I’ve attended this Retreat annually and the theme or tone of the meeting varies from year to year, depending on where we are at in our lives.
This year before meeting, one member suggested more writing time, and I’m so glad she did.
We routinely do Morning Pages, Free Write and a CRAFT.
This year we added in Writing Prompts, Mind Mapping and Creative Journaling.
The Mind Mapping and a prompt on setting were exactly what I needed. I tend to write dialouge heavy, so this was very helpful to help me find a balance.
If you are planning on hosting a retreat, Even a self-retreat, there are a few things I would recommend:
- Have goals – This is reason for the Retreat. Finish a book, commune with like minded writers, relax. Whatever it is, even if each writer has different goals, this will help with making a plan, so everyone walks away with what they want.
- Have a plan – Get input from all people attending your retreat. Pick a location. Create a schedule. Share it. A plan will give you framework for your retreat to ensure everyone has fun.
- Have Fun – So you can’t hit the park, because your location has suddenly been deluged by rain. You spent more time chatting and less time writing – been there. If you think of the plan as a framework and not a schedule, you can better roll with it.
Last year I hosted the WZG Writing Retreat on my Farm. I’ve toyed with the idea of coordinating a spring retreat for local authors at my farm or at The Smokey Hills in Minnesota.
The goal for me has always been to catch up with authors about what they are writing and trying to re-energize my own writing. This is for both retreats and conferences. Before investing time and money into any event, be sure you have a goal. My goal helps set the expectations and I can measure sucess from it.
My goals were met, so I would call the retreat a success.
Here are some other great blogs on planning retreats:
Join me next week as we continue my query journey.~Tina