Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Writing Retreat -- This is the Life!

In mid-December, my husband's work took him away for three days. He's not gone overnight often, but when he is, I have but one response, and it's immediate: Declare a writer's retreat!

At such times, nobody is here but the cats and me. And the more completely I can achieve the following goals, the happier and more successful I feel:
  • Throw away the clock. I sleep when I'm tired and eat when I'm hungry (or sometimes when I'm not, heh heh).
  • Divide awake time among three activities: exercise, prayer, and writing, with the greatest number of hours spent on the writing. There might be a little minor web-surfing as a break. I might write an email to a friend. But that's it. The retreat is basically a writing marathon. I will take care of the cats, wash the few dishes I use, and throw in a load of laundry if necessary. No other housework. Oh, and I shower too. In case you wondered.
  • Turn off the landline. I respond to important contacts by email or cellphone. But I don't want anything else ringing at me. Even the answering machine is too intrusive.
  • Don't go outside. Yeah, I know. I'm a recluse-in-training. I *might* break this rule during seasons that don't involve piling on the winter gear and wondering where the ice patches are under that new coating of snow.  
  • A byproduct of the above, more than a point in its own right: Don't talk. My husband called me on the phone during those three days, but I think that's the only time I actually spoke.
  • Dig into that novel wherever it's at and (for me) think in terms of completed scenes rather than word count. I couldn't figure out why the middle seemed to be moving so sluggishly, even though I knew what had to happen next. Except...I didn't know. When I finally threw out what I thought would be the midpoint, put something else there, and rearranged a few other scenes, I unblocked the thing. New scenes flowed onto the screen. And I wrote more than 5K words in those three days. For me, that's a lot.
The retreat was a resounding success. I loved those three days. And while I know all of life can't be spent this way, nor would I want it to be, I'm really going to experiment to see if I can live like this a little more often. Except that DH can live at home. Really, he can. :)

19 comments:

Leandra Wallace said...

That sounds like a terrific three days! I'd just need to have lots of dt. pop on hand & I'd be good to go. Congrats on the 5k! Oh, and I'm glad you showered. ;)

Andrea Mack said...

It's so great sometimes to have a big block of time just to write and think and not have to worry about anyone else! It sounds like you got a lot accomplished to me!

Happy New Year! I hope the year ahead has lots of good stuff in store for you!

Kelly Polark said...

Sounds wonderful and productive!

It seems I'm never alone to write! I have to steal time at night after all of the activities of the day. I need to plan a getaway retreat and soon!
Happy new year, Marcia!

Vijaya said...

Your plan looks like it works very well. Funny how simply the presence of another human being changes it. You are expected to interact, have meals together, etc. So I hope this year your husband will take several short trips to spend with the kids/grandkids. It's win-win.

I love a writing retreat at home with all my comforts and pets.

Kim Van Sickler said...

Way to go! Yes, I get so much more done when I'm home alone too.

Bish Denham said...

To get that alone time with me and the keyboard I have to close the door and put my sign on the door handle, "The Princess Is Out." Only then does hubby really know I don't want to be disturbed. :)

Marcia said...

Leandra -- It was great. :)

Andrea -- The big blocks of time really help me stay in the story.

Kelly -- Hope you can plan that getaway!

Vijaya -- Sometimes, with the cats on my notes and on my arm, I'd like to boot them out, too. :)

Kim -- It's the time to *live in* the book that helps so much.

Bish -- I love it!

Mirka Breen said...

*AMEN* to all you Retreat Rules, minus the one about not going out of the house.(Maybe the California winter is the difference- I need ten minutes of outside air.) Brava for making the days count.

Dawn Malone said...

Sounds heavenly, Marcia! I do love my alone time for this reason, though I could never tell my husband how forward I look to his occasional out-of-town trips! So glad your retreat was a productive one!

Marcia said...

Mirka -- 10 minutes is pretty short. :) If my yard were more private, I might go out more, too. Maybe. A little. :)

Dawn -- I'm going to try it a few more times in January, two-dayers, with hubby still here. I'll let you know...

Kelly Hashway said...

I love this idea! Great way to turn the time into a writer's heaven. :)

Marcia said...

Kelly -- I'm going to try it again this coming Wednesday and Thursday. :)

Jaye Robin Brown said...

This is a perfect kind of scenario for me!

Marcia said...

Jaye -- Perfect, it is!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

LOL! I do something very similar. I call it "No Rules" days when my hubby is gone. I still have to be a parent for my high school senior, but she gets it....

Hubby has been doing a lot less traveling in the last six months, which has cramped my style some, but that can always change in 2014.

Happy New Year!

Ruth Schiffmann said...

Wow, Marcia. Sounds like you had a wonderful and productive time. Good for you!!

Marcia said...

Sharon -- I love "No Rules Day." :)

Ruth -- Thanks! :)

Medeia Sharif said...

This sounds great. I go into hermit mode sometimes and get so much done. I also love the peace and quiet.

Marcia said...

Medeia -- Yes on both counts!