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Retreat but Don't Run Away

Diana here:

It seems every time you grab a moment to write, the phone rings, alerts pop up on your phone, your kids need something and by the way, can you bring cupcakes to church this week for Sunday School.

Most of the time you can handle the interruptions, pick up where the story, with its half-written word patiently waits for its last syllable to arrive.

But what do you do when that doesn't work anymore? The cursor mocks, the clock ticks loud behind you and the story you loved now feels old and stale.

So what can you do?

There is a quote that spoke to me and I want to share it with you. 

Start by doing what's necessary, then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. Francis of Assisi

If you are stuck and daily life has you by the throat you must start with the necessary. 

Get away, retreat

"But I can't. I have responsibilities that keep me in place," you say. 

"Think small first, if you haven't the time and money to 'retreat' to a writer's paradise do something else," I say.

Yes, you've heard it all before, go to the coffee shop, the park, the mall. That seems impossible at times and often doesn't lend itself to being creative, just different distractions. I'm suggesting you collect your spare change until you have enough to go to a real retreat. 

"I can't leave my family for a week or three days!" 

I can see you closing the door, or rather getting ready to click away from this post. 

Stop. Read. Think.

How important is it to you that you write?
Do you need to recharge?

A retreat with other writers may be out of your comfort, financial or family needs zone. I get that. I've been there, am there. 

Do What's Possible

There are solutions. I know a writer who owns a pop-up camper. She escapes to her backyard to her personal retreat to write. Cost? Zero. Trauma to her family? Zero. Boost to her writing? Amazing.

There are times I've shut down, carried my laptop to my bedroom and closed the door. I've taken books that inspire me, a candle to add ambiance and a bucket of cold soda and a bag of snacks. I'd slap on headphones and hit the play button for songs that inspire me. Then I'd write, read or draw until I felt renewed and ready to go back to the blinking cursor of life.

This year is the first time in my career that I have the funds to travel to a real writing retreat. Not a conference, where every minute is packed with learning and networking opportunities, but a place in Montana where writers write. There will be times I'll bump into other writers and brainstorm, and a learning session each night, but it will be low key and low stress.   

I hope to come back refreshed and recharged ready to take on a new story world. But if that fails, because I am an introvert and too many changes wear me out, and I come back tired and cranky I know what to do.

I'll start by retreating back to the simple places around my home where I am comfortable, where the words come freely and there isn't pressure to return with a masterpiece or agent or contract.

So start retreating today, anywhere, anyhow, any place that works for you. If not today, start planning so when the time comes you'll be ready.

Writing takes a lot of emotion and wears you down. Treat that blinking cursor as a warning sign that you need your own rebooting. 

Doing the impossible

Before long you'll be pounding the keyboard with excitement, firing up the dialogue and creating havoc for those characters you thought no longer had life and typing 'The End."


  1. I LOVE this post. You've given me an idea for a writing retreat that is doable for me. Thank you!

  2. Yay Christina! Retreat away!