I was recently on a writers’ retreat for a week and what a glorious and blissful week it was: fabulous surroundings, fantastic company and space to think and write.
But how to keep that vibe going now that I am home again and normal life has to resume?
Having been in a wonderful bubble of creativity surrounded by like minded friends, it is of course impossible to recreate that feeling back at home when the hoovering needs doing, the dog is barking and there is a teetering ironing pile (heap?) which is calling to be done. But I need to try.
My top five takeaways from my recent retreat:-
1. It’s important to have time and space to let your imagination off the leash away from a computer screen or notepad.
Otherwise known as day dreaming, it is easy for this vital activity for writers to be crushed by the demands of the everyday. I am pretty good at doing this whether on retreat or not because walking my dog Willow is perfect daydreaming time. So that’s one box ticked.
2. It’s important to write what you feel.
I went on retreat with a plan of the projects I wanted to work on. I came back from retreat with none of those projects progressed BUT I did come back with a short story/serial which with some polishing I should be able to sell to a women’s magazine and which I am excited to keep working on.
The takeaway here is not to be too stringent with ourselves about what we are choosing to write. The important thing is that we are writing.
3. It is wonderful to have a group of writers who are now firm friends with whom to discuss the mechanics of writing, the difficulties of particular genres, what’s selling and what isn’t and how we see our careers developing.
The takeaway here is that whilst writing is a solitary business, all writers need a support network to fall back on or reach out to.
Social media can fill that gap if you aren’t lucky enough to have a writers’ group close by but nothing can quite make up for a lively debate/discussion over a good meal as the wine flows.
4. It was wonderful to have nothing in the schedule other than to write.
It is of course impossible to recreate that feeling now I’m home but the takeaway is we all need to make time for writing because time won’t present itself and say now you can write. Chores will always need doing, bills will always need paying, day jobs need to be done. It is up to us as writers to cherish and value our work enough to place it higher up the to do list. One hour a day for five days a week is surely doable, isn’t it?
5. I enjoy writing.
That might seem like an odd statement for a writer to make but it is all too easy to forget why we do this job sometimes. The beauty of taking an idea, working on it and producing something from the rough clay that can be moulded into a finished story is a thing of wonder. One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to remember to make writing fun. On retreat, writing was fun. I need to bring that mindset next time, and every time, I sit down at my desk to work. And that’s something all writers should try to do.