Most of the writers I talk to believe that, if only they had more time to write, they would be able to finish their books. But that’s not always the case. Truth is, it really helps to have a few things down, before you head for the hills, or some quite pasture, to write your book.
And by the way, when I talk about a “writing retreat” here, I’m not talking about a writing class or a facilitated writing retreat–but a solo writing retreat, which is the writer’s own kind of trial by fire or vision quest. In other words, it’s you, the page, and your mind. And you will be tested.
So how do you know if you’re ready?
- You will have a clear idea about what you want to work on during your time away. For example, you know that you want to complete a chapter or edit five chapters. If you turn up for a writing retreat with no notion of what you plan to get done, it’s liable you’ll waste the first half of your time just working that out.
- You will have the concept for your book at least partially down. If you are unclear what your book is about, being confronted by day after empty day can feel overwhelming and only add to your internal confusion. I think retreats work best when the seed of the idea is really ready to take root and grow.
- You will know what to bring. If you have prepared for your writing retreat, you’ll will have already taken the time to reflect on your notes, packed along your key journals and a few key books that keep you inspired and on track. In other words, just as if you are packing for a vacation, you will have brought along the essentials. Nothing worse than arriving at a remote cabin to find the journal you most need to refer to hasn’t made the journey.
- You will have have spent time, before you leave, envisioning how you will spend your days. For example, before my latest writing retreat I knew that I planned to get up early, read something inspirational while sipping my first cup of coffee, and then start writing by 8:30, working until lunch at 12:30. My afternoons were for hiking and exploring. Spending the time up front envisioning how my days would go, let me slip into a productive routine right from the get-go.
- You will be willing disconnect from the outside world in order to embrace your inner knowing. Turning off the cellphone and any other distractions will make all the difference in the world. Trust me on this.
So, are you ready for a writing retreat?
P.S. If you want clarity on point number 2, the concept for your book, please join me and Book Midwife, Diane Conway, at Book Passage, Corte Madera on Saturday, September 17, for Brainstorming Your Book.