You know you want to write your novel, but every time you sit down to write...something happens. Maybe your kid runs into the room and demands to play. Or your building's fire alarm goes off for the billionth time. Or you start surfing the internet. Or you are so tired/uninspired that you end up staring at a blank page. If this has happened for more than a few days for you, then I have a prescription for you (and, no, it is not for more cowbell).
You need to go on a writing retreat.
I know your objections are popping up faster than those moles in a whack-a-mole. (Do you miss that game as much as I do? I will give you a free half hour call wth me if you can tell me where I can play that game again. I am serious. I don't joke about nostalgia.)
Let me guess. You are thinking...
- I don't have time for a retreat.
- I cannot afford to go on one.
- I don't want to travel to write.
- I hate the thought of writing in front of a bunch of strangers.
Well, let me get my foam hammer out and knock those objections in the head.
- I call BS on this one. Do you have time to watch TV? Do you have time to surf the net? You have time for a retreat.
- Retreats can be free. Also, I don't think you can afford to not go on one.
- You don't have to! You can have a retreat at home.
- You are totally allowed to write by yourself.
Basically, like Beyonce, you can do whatever you want!
How do you actually put together this retreat? Don't worry; I have got your back.
1. Decide What You Want
Do you want to write by yourself? Or do you want to bring a friend along? Do you want to write in the living room of your house (I discourage this...I really think you need to leave your usual environment to write.)? Or do you want to go to a coffee shop, hotel lobby (great for those who are looking for a free place to write), or another state? Think about what conditions are the best for your writing (be honest...if bringing a friend would spiral into a Bachelor discussion, don't even think about inviting her).
2. Find Time in Your Calendar
Look at your calendar and pick a day that you have free. Figure out what is a realistic amount of time that you can get away to write. I recommend at least three hours. It is hard to make progress and get in the flow with less time. Conversely, I do not recommend more than six. You will feel more burned out than that time you decided to watch all The Lord of the Rings movies in one sitting. Once you have a time, write that time down in your calendar. In permanent ink.
3. Handle the Logistics
If you need to take time off from your day job, be sure to give your boss notice. If your spouse needs to babysit the kids, let him or her know. If you are taking a friend along, let them know when and where you are meeting. If you need to book a hotel room or coworking space, call them and put your money down. Basically, do whatever you need to lock this day into place.
4. Pack Your Mary Poppins Bag
Make sure you bring everything you need to your retreat. Here are some suggestions:
- Your laptop
- A notebook
- Multiple pens
- Power cords/chargers
- A snack (if the location will allow it)
- Your cell phone (on airplane mode)
- A magazine (for breaks)
- Cash for little treats.
5. Show Up and Write
This is the easiest/hardest part. You have to go to your retreat and actually, well, write. I recommend avoiding WiFi as much as possible.
There you have it. That is how you have an awesome retreat where you won't be interrupted by your dog barking at the top of her lungs. Not that I speak from personal experience or anything.
Have you ever gone on a writing retreat? Tell me about it in the comments below.