3 Ideas to Give Your Writing a Boost

This is the end of a very busy–but productive–writing week. I’m going to share a bit more knowledge from around the Web, and I’ll be back to posting next week.

Your Writing Career Is DEAD: What to Do Now by Angela Booth is good advice, whether you’re ready to quit–or not!

5 Ways to Break Writers Block by Diana Flegal : “All creativity damns up behind a wall of fear and dread fueled by new insecurity.”

Goals: On Setting the Bar Low By Elizabeth S. Craig is something I really agree with. It goes along with my mini habits post–and IT WORKS!

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Sharing the Good Stuff

Ever hit one of those weeks when you have major brain drain? This is one of those weeks!

So this week I’m going to share with you some things I’ve read on other writing blogs lately. Get a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy!

Three Ways to Flourish on Mondays talks about some great strategies for setting yourself up for a successful week of writing. And it starts before Monday morning!

The Five Stages of Writer’s Block shows writer’s block as a grieving process. Are you caught somewhere in this cycle that mirrors the five stages of grief?

3 Sisters on Writing: 7 Simple Strategies for Making the Dream a Reality is the story of three published sisters and the strategies that made it possible while living active, normal lives.


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The Necessity of Solitude

Women are givers. Women writers are some of the most giving people I know.

We tend to have stronger relationships because of it–with babies, grown children, friends, and extended family.

But unless you learn how to balance all this giving with replenishment, you’ll find it nearly impossible to write.

Gift from the Sea

It has been a particularly busy family time the last two months, with little sleep and too little time to write. I wouldn’t go back and change any of it either–very rewarding times. But there comes a time when you realize you’re close to being drained. Pay attention to those times, or you’ll pay for it later (in your health, in your lack of writing, and in lack of patience with those around you).

This morning I was reading a bit in one of my favorite little books, Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book, Gift from the Sea. I re-read it at least once a year. Here are a few snippets that might speak to you giving women:

  • What a circus act we women perform every day of our lives. It leads …to fragmentation. It does not bring grace; it destroys the soul.
  • Eternally, woman spills herself away in driblets to the thirsty, seldom being allowed the time, the quiet, the peace, to let the pitcher fill up to the brim.
  • Only when one is connected to one’s own core is one connected to others, I am beginning to discover. And, for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be refound through solitude.
  • One must lose one’s life to find it. Woman can best refind herself by losing herself in some kind of creative activity of her own.

Is That You?

If you find yourself feeling fragmented and agitated today, find a way to steal away from everyone for even ten minutes of total solitude (and if possible, silence). Breathe deeply. Bring the energy spilled on everyone else back inside for a few minutes. Re-focus. Relax.

If you have a couple hours, get a copy of Gift from the Sea and read straight through it. You’ll love it!

And tell us your favorite way to find solitude–whether for a day or just a few minutes. We all need suggestions for this!

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A Writing Retreat with Friends

Retreat… Just saying the word is soothing.

While it is taking some planning and shifting of events, I believe I’ll be able to carve out two or three days for a personal writing retreat. Given the price of gas and hotels, though, I’m looking seriously at Judy’s ideas for how to do a retreat at home. (I’m referring again The Writer’s Retreat Kit: A Guide for Creative Exploration and Personal Expression by Judy Reeves.)

Adding Friends

After I do a mini retreat on my own, I’m thinking about trying one early in the new year with a writing friend or two. This quote from her book is what got me to thinking:

“For some of us, much of the joy of going on a writing retreat comes from spending time with other writers. Who else truly understands our need for solitude, our particular quirkiness, our mutterings and frustrations, our joys and disappointments? Who else speaks our language and comprehends the nuances of our silences? Other writers are our creative soulmates, kindred spirits, members of the same tribe. Not all writers, mind you, but those particular few whom we’ve come to know and love and trust with our tender hearts. Going on a writing retreat with a few chosen others, or a single best writer-friend, can deepen our connection with one another and with our writing.”

Doesn’t that sound heavenly? What about you? Is there a favorite writer-friend that you’d enjoy having along for a mini retreat of one day or two?

Nuts and Bolts Practicalities

If you had it at someone’s home, it wouldn’t have to cost anything. Retreaters could even go home to their own comfy beds at night. Retreating from 9-5, with plenty of time for writing exercises, solitude, journaling, talking, eating, walking (and writing on your novel if you felt so moved) would be a rejuvenating experience with the right people.

I’m going to give this some thought and see what my writing friends think!

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A Writing Retreat Re-Defined

Last weekend I spoke at a writers’ conference, and my last talk was on self-coaching and self-care. If no one else got anything valuable from the talk, I did.

I realized as I preached about self-care for writers that my own had slipped badly. That was part of the reason I was talking armed with cough drops and hot tea with honey.

I needed some time apart to get rejuvenated. I needed a retreat.

I Don’t Have the Time or Money!

Most of us have preconceived ideas of what a “writer’s retreat” would look like for us. Anything outside that box (we think) just wouldn’t fill the bill. A cabin in the woods–alone. A week at a convent–alone. A long weekend at a hotel with room service–plus writing friends in adjoining rooms. Everyone has an idea of the perfect writing retreat. And that’s often why our internal response is, “But I don’t have the time or money for that.”

So, if that’s your situation, what do you do when your body and mind scream for a retreat? Dig into The Writer’s Retreat Kit: A Guide for Creative Exploration and Personal Expression by Judy Reeves, author of A Writer’s Book of Days. She challenges writers to think of retreats in other ways–and thus to see the possibilities around us to create such retreats. Her themed retreat ideas can be for a weekend or scaled down to a few minutes, depending on what time you have available.

Make a Mental Shift

Chew on this quote for the weekend and see what you come up with.

Much as I believe that the idea of a writing retreat will always include Time Away Alone (I expect secluded mountain cabins or pri­vate, distant seashores will also remain in our writer’s mind’s eye), I also believe it is possible for each of us to create other, less extensive writing retreats that can refill and restore us, that can be containers enabling us to produce new work and to open us to creative expres­sion and that allow us to dip into the solitude we need to communi­cate with our inner selves.

  • Consider that a writing retreat is not necessarily a place, but a concept.
  • Consider the word retreat not as a noun but a verb.
  • Consider time not as a measure in length, but in depth.
  • Consider the idea of being alone not as being distant from people but as not allowing others to intrude on your solitude.

Get Practical and Make It Happen

In other words, let loose all those old ideas about what is nec­essary for a writing retreat to be “real,” and open your mind and heart to another way of giving yourself this gift of self-care. Get out your notebook and begin listing retreat ideas that last fifteen minutes, an hour, half a day, and a weekend. Brainstorm ideas that range from free to a trip to a European hide-away, if that’s your dream retreat.

Then choose several ideas and put them on your calendar as important appointments with your writer self. I added one ten-minute retreat idea to my daily routine this week, and I’m loving it. That tea and pumpkin spice candle does it for me.

How about you? Do you have mini retreat ideas you could share?

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