A Writer’s Treat: The Retreat by Jami Gray
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Jami Gray as she shares with us “A Writer’s Treat: The Retreat.” Enjoy!
Ah, the scent of wood smoke and rain tells me another year is gearing up for the fall and it’s time for a well-earned break. You know the kind, the type you use to reward yourself for surviving another round of new projects, writer conferences, pitch sessions, the merry-go-round of queries, new releases, and the never-ending whirlwind of life in general.
My reward of choice is the Writer Retreat. A chance to go off alone or with other like-minded individuals and spend uninterrupted days of living in my head. This year, sadly, I will have to refrain as I’m on a long-term savings plan which involves a couple of weeks next year with me running around Britain and Ireland with my two teens and husband in tow.
However, I’ve made it a habit to take time each year to devote purely to my writing, and it’s never easy. Trying to find the time is your first challenge, and before you clear that hurdle, the second one is nipping on your heels, how to pay for it. Most writers hold a day job, because it’s the one that pays for the nifty roof overhead, so doing a retreat is…well…a treat.
While I’m not the guru of retreats, I can share a few ideas to help spark your own. There are tons of options out there: train rides across the U.S., cruises, themed hotels, retreats in exotic locales, or just getting away all by yourself. Whatever route you choose, I urge you to take one each year. Trust me, your creativity will love you for it.
Normally such an adventure requires I ban together with my critique partners. We locate desirable shelter, generally a cabin hours from the desert sun, hopefully with enough beds so we aren’t flipping a coin for the futon. We utilize Vacation Rentals by Owner (aka VRBO) and keep our requirements basic: beds, electricity, and a functioning kitchen and bathrooms. If there’s no internet, all the better, then no one is tempted to sneak online. We plan on three days and then all bring various foodstuff, enough so we have one big meal together each day, the rest of the time we forage. Coffee is a must, and so is chocolate, but the rest is up for discussion. Significant others are banished. Phones are put on silent. For all intents and purposes, we no longer exist for the world at large.
It’s a beatific existence and many words are conquered. Late night conversations create unforgettable memories and for those three blessed days, we live the life of a WRITER. Once we return from our creative mountain, our creativity is back in session and ideas are bouncing all over the place.
Then there are the solo retreats, where the stars align and suddenly you have a day or two at your disposal. I wish I could tell you that staying home works, but I’ve never found that it does. Too many “to-do” things lurk in the corners and wait to pounce. Slipping away to a hotel, or if you’re the intrepid type, hiking out to a secluded corner of nature, works well. The further away you get, the less likely those in your life are to hunt you down with pesky questions.
Regardless if you retreat group-style or solo, the whole point is to get away from the daily pressures of deadlines, word counts, family obligations, school commitments, job pressures, and whatever else piled on top of you in the last few months, so you can take a moment to recapture the excitement and joy of writing.
Burn out doesn’t discriminate, and writers suffer it too. It’s easy to say, “I can’t”. Trust me, I get it. There’s always something coming up for payment, a commitment you can’t get out of, or the fact you’re feeling guilty for not spending time with the kids (even though they barely look up from their computers/phones). Yet, I’m begging you, if you get a chance, even if it’s just a few hours, take it and run. I promise it will be worth it in the end.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.
If you want to hunt her down, she can be found lurking around the following cyber locations:
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.com/e/B006HU3HJI