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Carving Out A Home Writing Retreat

Nov 27, 2007
The phone rings. The laundry pleads to be stuffed, cycled, dried and folded. Chaos reigns in the kitchen, e-mails queue for attention. Our lives are at once mundane and undeniably seductive at the same time. When we sit down to write at home, suddenly everything that marks our existence as tedious becomes compelling. Writing at home can seem tantamount to training for the Olympics past age nineteen.

Yet carving out time to write at home is possible. You can even design a home writing retreat. This weekend, I have staved off all other obligations and have Friday and Saturday free. I look forward to delving into my novel revision with hours of uninterrupted time. How to make sure I don't veer into work mode. I've developed a strategy for an at home writing retreat. Here are the ways that you, too, can carve out space for uninterrupted writing bliss.

Look ahead a month or two in your calendar. Find a day or two that are free and X them out for your retreat. When people suggest a get together on those days, say no. They're full with something more important. It is vital to guard these days.

The week before, act as if you are going out of town. Take care of all the work and home obligations that need your attention. Think about what needs to be taken care of when you are flying the coop - pet and plant care, clothes for the trip, etc. Make sure your work is done by the day before so you can take the time guilt-free.

Devise a plan. Consider your ideal writing retreat. First, think about what you are retreating from. Make a list of the roles you play in life: mother, spouse, employee, and writer. Give yourself permission to take time off from those roles to focus on one role. This weekend, I will set aside business owner, writer and teacher to be novelist for two days.

Have a focus for your time. You may wish to work on one creative project or several, but know beforehand what this time is devoted to. This will help when you enter the writing zone to get down to work right away.

Enroll allies. Alerting your people to your plans will make it easier to keep your boundaries. If your retreat means simply that you are stowed away in your bedroom or office while the rest of the family goes about their day, make sure they know that your do not disturb sign means just that. Better yet, help plan an outing for them so they can have their own adventure while you write. Who do you need to let in on your plan so they don't inadvertently try to thwart your efforts?

Get your vittles lined up. Plan for your nibbling needs. Make sure to have healthy snacks on hand. Prepare meals in advance or plan to order out so you can eat well but not get distracted by food preparation.

Be more than a walking head. Have a plan for being embodied. You may plan walks into your retreat, simple yoga or your regular workout.

Commit to tune out. You may want to unplug the phone, commit to leave your e-mail program off for the day and silence your cell phone. What other things do you need to set aside to be on retreat?

Give yourself a break with evening recreation. You'll want a break by evening. What activities will nurture your writer? You could rent a film about a writer or artist to inspire you. You could have a juicy book waiting to read.

Consider other activities that support your writing. If you went to a retreat center devoted to writers, what would you want to see? Inspiring books about the writing life or writing craft, favorite quotes, photos of writers who are role models may all be part of your writing retreat. Background music that encourages your creativity might help.

Being on retreat doesn't mean being holed up at home. If working in a cafe or at the library supports your writing, plan for excursions out of the house. . Watch out for the errand monkey, who will try to yank you around town on a bunch of his missions!

Give yourself permission to step out of your norm. Take this time to focus and be in full creative mode. A retreat of even a few hours can be a huge boon to progress on your writing. Have fun and make it work for you.
About the Author
Cynthia Morris of Original Impulse helps writers and visionaries make their brilliant ideas a reality. Author of Create Your Writer's Life: A Guide to Writing with Joy and Ease, and Go For It! Leading Tours for Fun and Profit, Cynthia coaches from Boulder.
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