[This post was written by Beth Barany, author The Writer’s Adventure Guide: 12 Stages to Writing Your Book.]
We all want to get our writing done. A writer writes, after all. But what to do when you have a busy life, a full-time job, family, and necessary obligations like health, and oh, sleep? One way to handle getting your writing done is to set up your very own Stay-at-Home Writing Retreat. In fact, because I’m publishing my second novel soon, I go on a writing retreat just about every Friday and Saturday. You can do something similar.
Create your own stay-at-home writing retreat.
What: Typically, writing retreats involve going away, far from everyday obligations, and focusing solely on your writing. Retreats can vary in length, anything from a few days to a few months, like a summer. In this article I focus on creating your own writing retreat at home (or in your hometown).
Why: Writing retreats are great for getting away from it all. You get a chance to step aside from everyday obligations and give yourself the gift of total focus to get your writing done. If you want to can also surround yourself with other supportive folks, like teachers and/or fellow writers. In the case of your Stay-at-Home Writing Retreat, you won’t have to bother with expensive travel, the time of that expensive travel, and bed bugs.
How: here are my 6 essential tips for your very own Stay-at-Home Writing Retreat…
1. Set reasonable goals for yourself to manage your own expectations.
If you’ve never written all day, then don’t expect you’ll be able to do that on your writing retreat. If on the other hand, you’ve been able to write for 1-hour stints, then during your retreat, with no other responsibilities, you could perhaps do two to three 1-hour stints.
2. Make it fun.
Go to a location that you love, be it the local cafe, diner, restaurant, or your home office, living room, or dining table. One time my husband and I cafe-hopped down College Ave. in Oakland, and even stopped off at the Rockridge Library, and several yummy cafes.
3. Use time limits.
Set the timer to complete in chunks that feel reasonable to you. I love 20-minute timed writing sessions for journal writing or character sketches. And since I like writing in 1-hour chunks, I set the timer to write prose for an hour. I also set the timer so that I will be sure to get up and walk around, take a water fluid adjustment break, or in the case of our College Ave hop, to move to a new location.
4. Congratulate/reward yourself.
All work and no play makes Jane an unhappy girl, to riff off of a saying (“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”) In our College Ave. Writing retreat, we rewarded ourselves with a break at the chocolate cafe, Bittersweet, on College Ave.
5. Plan your Stay-at-Home Writer’s Retreat in advance so that you can rearrange your other commitments and plan for your success.
Some of the things I do to plan ahead is I set reasonable, realistic goals for myself. (See #1) So for example last weekend, I decided I’d spend at least 1 hour inputting edits. On other days, I’ve also given myself word-count goals. This helps me know when I’ve hit my goals, which is so very important, so that I can congratulate and reward myself: chocolate! (See #4)
6. Tell your accountability-partners, supporters, and fans.
When you plan to do something new, it can help to tell the important supportive people in your life what you’re planning on doing. Use your social media network to share your intention, progress, and success. Telling your supportive community helps you follow through—social pressure, and all that—but it also allows people to support you, and congratulate you, and celebrate with you. (Yep, See #4 again)
That’s my take on the essential tips for a supportive and successful Stay-at-Home Writing Retreat. What are your tips? Please chime in and share them in the comments below.
Beth Barany is a bestselling author of The Writer’s Adventure Guide, and helps authors write, publish, and market their books through her creativity coaching practice. Sign up for her free Writer’s Motivation Mini-Course at her site: http://bethbarany.com/contact.html#newsletter.