This Saturday I’ll be meeting with a small group of writers to retreat from our normal lives and our normal writing practices to write in a different way. Here are some thoughts on how and why to take a little time to retreat from your regular (writing) life.
My Top Three Reasons for Going on a Writing Retreat:
- To re-engage with my creativity.
- To connect with my inner voice.
- To play.
The Three Essential Ingredients to a Writer’s Retreat (in my opinion):
- Make the time. Schedule your writing retreat on your calendar, in code if you have to. (If someone sees “Root Canal,” they probably won’t ask you to reschedule!)
- Set your intention. Create the expectation within your body, mind, and spirit that you are about to take an important action on your own behalf.
- Go to a place where you won’t be interrupted with the mundane tasks of daily life. Stay home if everyone else is out (and you can ignore the laundry), but go out if everyone else is home. A coffee shop is a great place to retreat, as long as you aren’t close enough to others that their words are distracting. Sometimes it’s great to overhear other people’s dialogue; sometimes it can drown out your own voice.
Writing Warm Up:
My favorite way to “warm up” to writing is to do timed flow writing. Here’s how:
- Get out a journal or open up a document on your computer (I prefer a journal for this kind of writing.)
- Put the date at the top of the page.
- Set a timer for 5 minutes and close your eyes as you press “Start,” or just check your watch for the time and close your eyes.
- Take a deep breath and open your eyes. Whatever object your eyes fall on, use that as the beginning of your entry.
- Start writing and don’t stop until the timer goes off or you see that the time has advanced 5 minutes on your watch. Don’t edit or correct spelling, just keep the pen moving. If you don’t know what to write, write “I don’t know what to write” over and over until another thought comes to you.
- Once you’ve stopped writing, put a topic note next to the date at the top of the entry, as this will help you find the entry again if you want to use something from it.
- Repeat steps 1-6, perhaps increasing the time to 10 or 15 minutes.
Before you return to your normal daily life, take a few moments to write down what you feel you gained from spending some time in retreat with your writing. Plan to reward yourself in some small way for honoring your writing self. A couple of my favorite rewards are a hot bath or a latte, but you will know what’s the best reward for you.
So, when’s your next writing retreat?
I have a couple of spots still open for my One-Day Writing Retreat this Saturday, September 20, 2014, at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua, NH. Please click here for more information and to register. I’d love to see you there!
Diane MacKinnon: is a writer, blogger, life coach, physician, mother, and stepmother. I’m getting my writing done little by little, with the occasional hours long stretch–it’s working for me, although I’m really looking forward to my writing retreat this Saturday because, while I’m hosting, I also get to do some writing. It’s a win-win! You can find my blog at www.dianemackinnon.com/blog.