I’ve just come back from a writing retreat. Not an official one. It was more a small birthday trip that I renamed. And by small, I do mean small: we were only gone for a few days.
It was enough, however, to clear my mind, get some fresh air and open my mind to new ideas.
No, I don’t believe a small cottage and the English countryside can magically produce a novel and I don’t think most advertised retreats are worth the time or money.
However, sometimes it’s necessary to change your surroundings. A change of scenery and getting away from the everyday trot that is life, can lead to new motivation and determination. It might help get rid of a block or to feel inspired again.
Experiencing new things always helps me refill the creative tank, even if that experience is trying to convince a dog to walk up a steep hill in high winds that make the ears flap about the head.
Going away, even if only for a few days, gave me an excuse to turn off the Internet, not check my e-mails and ignore social media (at least most of the time.)
It was relaxing and quiet.
I can imagine finding a second writer to go away with can help with accountability, plot holes and motivation (plus you can share the costs.) Sadly, neither the dogs nor my partner write.
But, what can you do if you can’t get away for a few days?
I try and get a change of scenery and break routines in different ways when I can’t get away from home. Let’s be honest, we all would type our novels on top of a mountain or on the beach if we could, but most of us can’t. Instead we choose park benches, coffee shops and even the garden furniture to mix things up.
There are numerous problems with writing at home. Responsibilities and procrastination come together in a neat package: pay the bills, descale the kettle, clean the bathroom, walk the dogs, do laundry, dust the shelves or go grocery shopping. Once sat in a coffee shop all those responsibilities fall away, because right at that moment you can’t do anything about them.
You can only drink your coffee and type away on your laptop (and maybe snack on a slice of cake.)
Set yourself a goal before you leave the house. Write x number of chapters, or x number of words, or research x subject.
Sometimes it’s impossible to reserve a whole morning or afternoons because of family and work and other responsibilities. But maybe you can start small and lock yourself away for 30 minutes somewhere, anywhere, even the bathroom (Trumbo wrote in the bathtub.) Maybe you can drop off the kid’s books at the library and while there sneak in half an hour of writing.
Try building a routine and who knows, maybe after a while the family will respect it. Though my dogs still try and sit on my laptop every time they can. Some things never change.
Have you ever been on a writing retreat? Do you have difficulty making the time at home or do you regularly find a quiet corner to write? Let me know in the comments.
See you next week,