Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Create Your Own Personal Writing Retreat

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:



Shirley Corder said...

Mary Jo, some good thoughts here. I think for this to work for me, I'd have to set one goal for the day, say "Promotion" and spend the day doing that. Otherwise I'd still be hopping from one project to the other by the end of the time. Super idea though!

Anne Duguid Knol said...

Just what I needed right now Mary Jo. This is my day and I'm still pottering around my emails. Off to get going--

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

That is what I tend to do. That's why I needed to spend the time reviewing what I had done and resetting my priorities.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Happy writing!

D. Jean Quarles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
D. Jean Quarles said...

Love the idea! It's been a long while since I took a writers day. Thanks for the reminder of what it can do.

Karen Cioffi said...

Oh, that looks so tranquil. I'd love to go to a writing retreat. I do my meditation and listen to my vision statement every morning to try and keep on track. I like the idea of the mind-map. First though, I have to work on my vision board.

Magdalena Ball said...

A personal retreat is a great idea. I like your mind map too.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Vision boards are great. Have you ever tried a vision board for a specific manuscript?

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

The best thing about a personal retreat is it is totally on your own terms.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Hope you take one soon.

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