Getting Ready for a Writer's Retreat


I'm setting off on an adventure tomorrow, and I'm a little nervous about it.

Or maybe it's guilty?

I'm taking a long weekend to write.

Just write.

Okay, I'll be meeting other writers and socializing and talking craft, but mostly I'll be sitting at my computer typing away on my novel in the company of others, then alone.

I'd always imagined that I'd attend writer's retreats. You know, once I "made it."

It's certainly a romantic idea—the novelist, alone in her cabin in the woods, making magic happen.

But that romance doesn't pay the bills, and I'm not independently wealthy. So while it might be wonderful to apply to those creative residencies that give you time and space and room and board to sit and write, the harsh reality is that spending a week on retreat means taking time off from work. Since I'm self-employed, there are no vacation days or floating holidays to leverage. There are only weekends, and that's when I try to cram in the rest of the stuff that makes for a well-balanced life: Exercise, socialization, spending quality time with my partner.

As I said in my application,

As a self employed freelance writer, I juggle what I want to work on with what pays the bills. Unlike salaried workers, I can't take a vacation or use a sick day to attend writing conferences; I have to sacrifice earnings or pull double shifts to make up the gap. After years of doing this, I am burnt out. Attending the Getaway would be a generous gift of time that would allow me to concentrate wholly on writing for the duration of the event.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to attend the Winter Getaway and give myself the chance to dive deep into my writing in a supportive community atmosphere.

But I'm also nervous.

Most days, I hit my daily goal for working on my novel (1,000 words) then drift on to the next obligation in my bullet journal. Writing is ticked off the list, then compartmentalized.

I'm good at finding time to write in a bare-bones way. Steady progress does add up. But I can't help but wonder if I'm writing frequently enough, or really I wonder what I'd be doing if I had a few hours every day to refine essays, re-envision scenes, and create new work instead of constantly trying to cram decent writing into a 45-minute window in between lunch and laundry.

What will happen with that gift of time, now that I'm more ready to appreciate it than I was in my MFA program?

An excess of time brings its own obstacles. Writer's block. Boredom. Self-doubt. (Yeah, that all comes up in 45 minutes, too, but more time could bring more dragons to slay).

I'll hit a blank, for sure. I'll have to find new ways through or around. And all of that is part of the process of growth.

Onward & upward. I'm trying to embrace the adventure.