Reflections on a writing retreat at the Extended Stay in Tumwater

That’s how broken our practice had become. We squeezed $90 out of our measly budgets to stay at a dive hotel a mile or two from our houses. We started writing Friday night and kept at it through Saturday night.

In spite of the guy in the parking lot zooming his RC car around for–not kidding–hours, the smell of old smoke in the air (oops, a smoking room!), and a neighbor who kept knocking on our door, we managed to get a lot of writing done.

In spite of our own doubt and distractions, we kept writing our goals out on post-it notes and sticking them to the mirror. When we finished up one goal, we wrote another. To some extent we succeeded because we had to stay honest to each other and we had to make our $90 worth it. My buddy Carrie did a better job of sitting still than I did. I can’t write for hours without stopping. I need breaks. So, during those breaks I either read, wrote letters, or tried to think about how I was going to make writing happen when I re-entered my life.

On this blog, I try to make it simple, write about one thing at a time that helps me stay in the room. But we all know it is not simple. The reasons we don’t make time to write are complex and deeply rooted in our behavior and relationships. So, now that I’m home what are the nuggets I’ve emerged with?

Reduce distractions.

Stay fit and practice yoga/meditation.

Quit Facebook. While some of you might be able to use it wisely, I get on there and scroll. Also the connections there are somewhat illusory. I want more coffee dates, more letters, more writing retreats!

Write slow. There is so much focus on word count with writers that when I finally sit down to write I track my progress by the volume of words written. This leads to huge gaps in the narrative because in order to progress I will rush through the parts where I should slow down and write line by line.

Make time.


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