Friday, August 24, 2012

The Do-It-Yourself Writing Retreat

All summer, I have been not-so-secretly jealous of my writing friends who put their lives on hold to go on a writing retreat. It was hard not to be tinged with the teensiest bit of green when hearing of those who eschewed the demands of parenting, working, and spousing for awhile in order to spend some serious quality time with the creative muse.

One need not escape in order to create.
And then I got to thinking: my thinly veiled envy wasn't because my friends were spending time at the shore, or in the woods, or in the mountains. No. It was the sheer concentrated writing time that I begrudged them.

This realization soon led to another:

If they could do it, goshdangnabbit, so could I.

This inelegant (but motivational) thought led me to create the DIY Writing Retreat. It's amazingly simple. Here's how it works:
  • For three consecutive days, I am going to focus primarily on my writing. My family has people in it (other than I) who are capable of cooking. [Note to self: if the cooking tenet proves false, we can easily survive on mac & cheese and takeout pizza during that time, if need be. My muse thrives on carbs.]
  • During my retreat, I am more writer than mom, daughter, friend, or spouse
    • I will not do laundry, run errands, go grocery shopping, weed the garden, troubleshoot relationships, babysit, or talk to telemarketers. 
    • I will not answer the phone. 
    • I will not muck about on social media sites. 
    • I will not feel guilty about this. 
    • I will not back down. 
    • I. Will. Write.
Because I have access to the mystically magical Net of Inter, I'm going to have New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Crusie be the keynote presenter to kick off my retreat.

You see, several years ago, Crusie wrote an awesome post that was ostensibly about finding an agent, but was more accurately a step-by-step blueprint on How To Discover Your Ideal Writing Career. Addressing the "you can only answer these for yourself" questions and issues raised within that post shall be Item One on my DIY Writing Retreat Schedule.

I'll spend some of my DIY Writing Retreat time focusing on word count.

I'll spend some time focusing on improving specific parts of my craft.

And I'll spend some time plotting and planning so I have a clear vision of where my WIP is headed when I return to the story of my life that's already in progress.

I will not spend time doing research online because I know that the aforementioned Net of Inter exerts a strange and terrible influence over me. I can begin researching ninth century peasant life to add veracity to my story, only to fall down the YouTube rabbit hole, emerging two hours later dazed and addled and laughing hysterically after yet another viewing of Tim Hawkins' Inappropriate Wedding Songs.

I will not spend my time painting my fingernails, or my toenails, or (God forbid!) cleaning my house or my writing studio.

I will not delude myself into believing that 140-character tweets count as writing. My family won't be noshing on takeout so I can fraternize with my Twitter friends.

I fully expect to emerge from the three days of self-imposed exile, disheveled, over-caffeinated and recharged with creative juice, with several thousand as-yet-unwritten words added to my novel in progress. Who knows? If the family can handle one more visit from the Pizza Guy, I may decide to extend my DIY Writing Retreat by another day... Or two.

My 3-day indulgence begins on Monday, August 27. Don't be jealous! Join me from the comfort of your own home, and embark on a #DIYWriting Retreat of your very own.

Photo via


Unknown said...

FYI... I just spent the last hour watching Tim Hawkins videos. It must be contagious!

Jennifer Jensen said...

What an awesome idea! I did get to go to a 2-day conference this summer, but later in the fall I might do this. I really like the idea of not just a writing retreat, but a conference-type learning retreat. I could look ahead of time for videos on craft to alternate with writing time. Have a great session, and let us know how it was!

PS--thanks for introducing me to Tim Hawkins! Must. Have. More.

Ami Hendrickson said...

Marcy & Jennifer,
Thanks for commenting. I'll report on the experience & have great hopes for its success. BTW: now that I have introduced others to Mr. Hawkins, my job here on Earth is done. :)

Andi-Roo @TheWorld4Realz said...

Okay, you said not to be jealous, but I gotta tell ya, I totally am. However, rather than sit here with green-eyed envy, I think I'll take a bite out of your book and concentrate on putting together my own quasi-retreat. Thanks for the absolutely great idea! And the inspiration to find new ways of working around *LIFE* to make my writing a priority.

Ami Hendrickson said...

Thanks for commenting. As for the DIY Writing Retreat, I highly recommend the experience & plan to do it again at least once a year. Here's to bumping your writing up on your list of life's priorities!