Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Home Based Writing Retreat

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Vacations are supposed to be lazy, right? Laying around the pool, sipping a cold drink, and paging through a fat book. Well, I haven't been doing it right this week.
I'm having a working vacation. And for me, it has been grand.

Normally, I'm a homeschool mom. Which means there is someone in my house ALL the time. Since I love to write in privacy and silence....well, you get the idea.

But for the past week, no one has been home but me, the cat, and the dog.

Ds is overseas on a mission trip. Dh was away on business for several days.

The last few days were all about me and my creative work. (What a concept!) I wrote like a fiend. I considered and sorted through several projects, both writing and non-writing related. Having the uninterrupted time to think has been such a blessing.

Artists enjoy the chance to get away from the rut of their daily life. Carving out extended time to write, quilt, scrapbook, or paint allows greater expression. You simply have the time to think more thoughts more deeply. But you don't have to leave home to do it.

Some tips for a home-based retreat.

1. Send the kiddoes to a friend's or grandma's for the weekend. Trade off with another artistic-minded parent. You keep all the children one weekend, then she keeps everyone another time.

2. Plan yummy food. Eating is a sensory experience for me. I stopped at a gourmet grocery store and picked up a few entrees and sides for my retreat. Not having to worry about cooking or eating out enhanced my pleasure. Not living on PB&J was important. If you want, cook in advance and pop things in the freezer.

3. Assemble supplies. Gather your supplies and ideas several days ahead of time. That way when you do have the time, you can dive in. I like have several projects to work on. If I hit a roadblock on one, I can move to another. It keeps me fresh.

4.Work on your projects! Do not use this time to vacuum the carpet, mow the lawn, play on the internet, or clean out the garage. Create! At the end of the day, make notes on what you accomplished. It adds up, doesn't it?

5. Turn off the phone, TV, and internet. Pretend you have traveled several hours to get to this place. Be unavailable to your normal life, except for an emergency.

6. If you have several days, plan a creative date with yourself. If you had traveled to another city for a retreat you would make time to visit a great restaurant, art museum, or local shops or sites. Shopping and touring can be a right brained creative activity. We forget to play tourist in our own backyards sometimes. Fill up your senses with local color and experiences.

My private week is done. Dear Hubby is back and we will shift gears to have a few days of mini-honeymoon while the teen is away. I feel refreshed. Invigorated by what I've accomplished. Five new scenes for the book, several thousand words written, writing classes designed for fall, a new business idea explored, women's ministry thoughts outlined. I've indulged in some photography time,and spent time on my porch swing enjoying my gardens and warm summer nights.

It has been a wonderful experience.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


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Only echoes in the gas tank.

I was running on empty. The energy tank on my current work in progress was dry. Ideas for the story are here in my head, but there was no power to find the words to express them.

So I took one short scene to read to my writer's group last night. Wow, what a boost. The critique pointed out what worked in the scene and what didn't. My new character was well received. And people got how my main character is feeling. Always valuable information. Even knowing what doesn't work within the piece is refreshing. I mean, I knew it in my gut. Now I really know it. And I have specific things to fix and polish.

More than that was the chance to rub elbows with like minded folks. A conversation with a friend whose writing is going well, words flowing out of her like a river. The chance to hear of a newly published author's book signing adventures. The chance to hear fiction in progress from others with the opportunity to flex my own creative critique muscles to aid them as they've have helped me.

A recent article in U.S. News and World Report revealed that we are more creative in groups. Especially groups where ideas can flow without censor. The best thing about my writer's group is that whatever I bring to read is taken seriously. Whether it is fiction, fanfiction, poetry, a magazine article, or an opinionated essay, the words are treated with respect. Everyone tries to offer advice that improves the work. Effort is applauded. Our mutual goal is creating writing that sells.

One thing is for sure, going to those meetings, hanging out with other writers, and bouncing words and ideas off them certainly fills up my creative gas tank.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Just For Fun

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Creativity has an element of fun for me. Or maybe that's fun has an element of creativity. It goes both ways.

At any rate, multi-colored toe nails are a summer tradition for me. I get looks and great comments from total strangers such as a lady in Boston who stopped me at a tourist site to ask where I got the idea or the lady on the subway in New York who took notes on the colors I used. (Purple, green, crimson, yellow, and hot pink) Who says New Yorkers aren't friendly? Even male friends notice and smile.

And that's what those bright colors are all about...making me smile. If it makes others smile, then so much the better.

Who would have thought a few cheap bottles of nail polish would bring happiness every summer day?

Doing something fun, even silly, always generates some creative ideas. Maybe it is because to have fun a person has to let loose a bit. Letting loose of our boundaries or restraints can help our artistic endeavors reach new heights. Do something silly - a new hat? clown glasses? multi-colored toenails? Just keep it harmless. Add some just plain fun to your day with a bike ride or a snow cone.

When you are ready, create. Let me know what results.

Friday, July 13, 2007


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Pressed down, shaken together, overflowing. This Bible verse expresses well the abundant ideas flowing today. More than I can keep up with….exciting. Character thoughts, an idea for a writing seminar, thoughts on making the porch prettier, blogging ideas….

Time to capture them in my notebook or here on the computer. If these ideas are captured, they can often be tamed. It takes persistence, good care, kindness, firmness and love to win their hearts, but the process is so worth it. Once tamed, an idea becomes your friend, a guide, an inspiration.

What ideas are running wild through your mind and heart? Corral them in your notebook for future consideration. Give them time to settle, grow, and mature, then explode them into your life. At the very least, tag them so you can follow and observe them in their natural habitat. Observe, remember, compare…you never know when one idea will bounce into another to create something totally different.

I love new ideas. They are like bright blooming flowers in my heart, full of potential, magic, and charm.

Which ones shall I work on first?