By Kelly Carey
I always write in a solitary environment. While I enjoy my writing community, when it comes to the act of writing, I don’t go to the library or a café or anywhere in public. My fragile first drafts, those timid beginning sentences, need privacy while they mature into a shareable manuscript. When I get in the writing zone, I don’t want to be interrupted by thoughts of someone else reading my work. Hearing a cough or movement about the house, would surely pop me out of the zone.
When my 24 Carrot Writing partner, Annie, gave us the opportunity to escape for an entire weekend of writing, my initial thought was extreme trepidation. Could I be creative with other writers watching? Or would I feel inhibited?
There are many moments along the path from first draft to a submission ready manuscript where you feel silly. Doubt tells you that you’re crazy to think you can create art on a blank page. I believed that I was able to push through these moments because I tapped into my creative chutzpa. It’s what allows me to sing loudly in the shower, dance in my pajamas, and daydream about being interviewed by Oprah. But I don’t let anyone see me doing these things. I thought having an audience for this creative process would leave me frozen.
Our writing retreat showed me that other writers, rather than cramping my style, invigorate my writing process. They worked hard. So I worked hard. I got more done because we rode a tsunami of creative activity and no one was going to turn on the TV, distract us with requests for meals, race to move the laundry along at the sound of the buzz, or goodness forbid vacuum (lucky for us the vacuum broke the day before we arrived – phew). We couldn’t even get lost in Facebook because there was no Wi-Fi (yes, it was scary at first, but it made the weekend so much more productive). Instead of feeling lost in the swirl of their writing energy, I felt inspired. When doubt crept in, I had like-minded people to tell me this type of insanity is a good thing.
By the end of the weekend I had once again been reminded of the power of a supportive writing community, and the benefits of stepping outside your normal writing routine. I discovered the adrenalin rush that comes from sharing a common goal and sense of purpose. Not to mention a completed draft of a middle grade novel I've been working on for years.
I have been writing for decades and have never taken a writing retreat. While I recognize that they don’t come along that often and can be costly, look for opportunities to share in the act of writing with a community. Check out the drop in Scribe & Snack days offered at The Writer’s Loft in Massachusetts http://www.thewritersloft.org/events/write-ins/. Or seek out write in events hosted by NaNoWriMo http://nanowrimo.org/come-write-in.
Don’t be afraid to write in public. Last month, Annie’s blog reminded us to share our success; this Writing Retreat Weekend taught me that we can also share our process. Write together. And if you're fortunate, do it by the ocean with a superb group of fellow writers.
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