How I pulled off a personal writing retreat
Last month I went on a personal writing retreat. Quite a lot of people have been curious about how I did this (like HOW the fuck did I manage to get away and write for an entire week!?) and why so I’m gonna break it down for ya.
HOW I DID IT:
>> I planned it. I’d been planning it for over a year in my head. I went to a brilliant workshop on Motherhood, Trauma, Sex, Somatics and Writing (the title was something like that) with Molly Caro May and Kimberly Ann Johnson in Bozeman, MT in October of 2018 and I got a crystal-clear message that I needed to write about a specific topic. Like it HAD to get out of me and onto a page for my own personal trauma healing.
At the workshop Molly talked about how she’d written the first draft of her incredible book, Body Full of Stars, during an artist in residence writing fellowship, like she did it all in a continuous flow of dedicated days. When I heard how she’d written her book, I knew immediately this was the way for me to write. I couldn’t fathom having a husband and small child at home and pecking away at my writing with constant interruptions. Kimberly wrote her equally incredible book, The Fourth Trimester, by pecking away and while it produced a stellar book, her process sounded maddening to me. I mean, it takes me two hours just to write a decent social media post when I have family interruptions. Also, since becoming a mom I’m no good at getting up early or staying up late, so those times were out for me.
I told my husband about this plan a month or two in advance and then I finally booked my room in a town an hour away from us a few weeks before my retreat.
I also planned it to line up with the Follicular phase of my cycle. If you don’t know about the brilliance of this kind of planning, go HERE for more info.
>> I was filled with doubt and guilt and I did it anyway. Questions I battled with as the time came closer to go and on my first night away: Is being away for this long too hard on my family? It was hard on them AND they survived. Is this selfish? Is this a waste of time and money? What if I don’t actually write anything? What if I can’t write? I’m not even a real writer… who the hell am I to think I can go on a personal writing retreat?
>> I structured my time. After waking up, I did my warm drink and supplements and then sat down and started writing. It was pretty easy for me to write for an hour before I found myself needing a break. So, my first break was to make and eat breakfast, then I’d sit and write again. I found my hour naturally stretched to almost two hours at a time towards the end of the week as my writing muscles got stronger. I’d need a longer break after the second daily session. So, I’d go for a walk (several of the days with one of my best friends who lived a block away and was writing herself) and/or a hot springs soak. Then back to writing. It was harder to do the afternoon/evening sessions so I began making my morning sessions longer and later ones shorter. After my later session(s), my friend and I would go get dinner and walk and/or soak again. It was awesome to process our adventures in writing together as we walked.
>> I had actionable goals and held myself accountable to them. I had two goals: 1. Write 20,000 words (I exceeded this goal) and 2. Have a completed rough draft (I did not meet this goal, but I feel totally fine about that).
WHY I DID IT:
I literally had to. Like my soul made me do it.
Feeling soft, supple, empowered and accomplished on day two of my retreat. There were other times (especially towards the end when I was making a push to reach my goals) where I did not feel this way, but I kept going.
I’m planning on doing another shorter personal writing retreat again soon, with the goal of finishing my rough draft.
If you’re a writer (even if you don’t consider yourself a REAL writer) may your writing dreams come true. May your writing heal you, move you, change you. If you’ve wanted to do something like this, do it! And feel free to reach out to me for support, with questions, specifics, etc. If you’ve done something like this, I wanna hear all about it! You can contact me HERE or on social media.