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?