Last weekend I had the good fortune to gather with eight other writers at an old (potentially haunted) stone manor house for a three-day writing retreat.
|English Inn, Victoria, BC - photo by Kate Boorman|
It proved to be an excellent location—stunning common areas, rooms that were both beautiful and comfortable, quirky closets and hallways, and, only a short walk away, the Pacific Ocean and a park with curious, abandoned military structures. The manor ghost stopped by from time to time, occasionally knocking from within the walls and causing unplugged phones to ring, but that only added fuel to our already-out-of-control imaginations. Top it off with good food, shop talk, wine, and chocolate, and you’ve got a near perfect retreat.
Each of us spent the majority of our time retreating in our rooms – for me, that meant hours spent fleshing out a new story idea; others were revising or first-drafting; a few were working together on a joint project; and one person was intentionally resting, nurturing her creative spirit in preparation for the heavy workload she knew was ahead. We all did what we needed, what was right for us at the time. It was bliss.
So, writers should all just zip off to a retreat whenever they feel the need, right?
Yeah, I think it’s safe to say, for most of us that’s not gonna happen very often. Before last weekend, it had been four years since I’d managed to get away for a writing retreat. (Too long!) But here’s the thing: it’s vital that we recognize and claim whatever we need to be healthy and productive in our creative lives. Maybe that means indulging in the luxury of a weekend away from all other commitments, but more often than not, it means carving out time in bits and pieces amidst multiple responsibilities.
Whether you’re on deadline and need to get words on the page pronto, or you’re feeling a little battle-worn and desperate for some self-care—wherever you’re at in this creative life right now—carve out the time and space you need. Value your work, and nurture your creative spirit, even if you damn near have to perform miracles to find the resources to do so.
I know it’s hard, especially when we have so many demands on our time, energy, and finances, or when we’re so used to caring for others and putting our own needs on the backburner. Do it anyway. Use that trusty imagination of yours to come up with a plan to meet your own needs. Yes, your writing is worth it. Yes, you are worth it.
Give and Take: Of course, the flip side of "take what you need" is "give what you can". Got a tip on ways to find time to write, or ways to make self-care a priority? Please share! Having a particularly difficult time claiming what you need? Let us know, and maybe the hive-mind of our comments section can help you brainstorm a solution.
Take care, dear writers, and write on.