A quiet cabin hidden in the Poconos
Luscious meals prepared by a five star chef
No cell phones
Great writing coaches
An eclectic group of talented and generous writers
These are the ingredients I remember from Room to Create, a writers retreat in 2011 put on by the Highlights Foundation. This fall a reunion retreat was planned for this group. Sandy Asher and Linda Oatman High were once again the facilitators. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this year.
Disappointed that I couldn't attend and realizing that my writing life needed a jump-start, I decided I would give myself a personal retreat. I took a day off work, and committed it to writing. I did not leave the house or clean the house. My house definitely needed cleaning and there were tons of errands I needed to run, but I was giving myself the gift of a writing day.
After breakfast, I sipped my coffee and sat down in front of my computer. What should I work on? I opened one of my picture book manuscripts. I closed it. I opened one of my non-fiction projects. I closed it too. I decided to spend the day organizing my writing life. I reviewed each manuscript to determine its status. Some of my manuscripts are at publishing houses waiting for feedback; some need massive revisions, while others are in their final stages. Then there are the projects that are little more than research notes and beginning ideas.
I am someone who always has many writing projects in the hopper. I know some writers start a writing project, dig in their teeth, and keep at the one project until it’s done. That’s just not me. I dig in, chew and gnaw at my manuscript, but then I need to put it down, let it ferment while I work on another project. In order to keep track of my many projects, I use a mind mapping program called freeplane. So, on this personal retreat day, after I reviewed each manuscript, I updated it on my mindmap. Here’s the outline of my map for my children’s writing without the specific projects.
I didn't get a ton of writing done during my personal retreat, but I did reset my focus and determine where to put my writing energy. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, by what I need to get done, I felt empowered by what I had accomplished.
If you’re feeling like your writing life needs a reboot, consider a personal retreat.
Mary Jo Guglielmo is writer and intuitive life strategist. For more information check out: