A writing retreat isn't a spa, but hey, a girl can dream.

A writing retreat isn’t like a spa, but hey, a girl can dream.

Tomorrow I start a writing retreat on Cape Cod. So while I know I’ve said before that writing is a tough life, that’s not to say there aren’t certain perks. A regular writing retreat is definitely one of them.

I try to do one every year for at least four days, and preferably a week. And when I go on a writing retreat, I aim to stay offline as much as possible — no email, Facebook, blog interactions, or Twitter. I’m there to make progress on a book, which means putting all those other things away for a time.

When I planned this retreat many weeks ago, I didn’t realize that this week is “Screen-Free Week” (April 29-May 5). Who knew I was being trendy?

Scheduling this kind of time off the grid can be challenging: arranging for child care, writing blog posts in advance, attending to bills ahead of time, etc. But it’s important for writers to do this from time to time. I get much more work done when I’m in a fresh place — and when the meals are taken care of by someone else!

Yeah, it's actually more like this than a spa.

Yeah, it’s actually more like this.

A writing retreat is relaxing, but it’s not a spa (see idealized image above). I work hard while I’m away (see photo at right).

I’ve been on writing retreats at monasteries and other religious communities, and that’s wonderful for my spirit, but I’ve also done successful writing retreats just by checking myself in to a cheap hotel for a couple of days.

Once a few years ago, a deadline was looming that I could not postpone, but I couldn’t seem to make concentrated time to work on it. Family, work, household, church, students . . . . There were so many other priorities. I was getting pretty stressed out. So with my husband’s blessing, I used hotel points to check myself in to an inn not ten miles from my house for a weekend. I brought with me only that one project — no other writing and certainly no outside distractions (though my family did come meet me there for dinner on Saturday night). It was a very successful retreat and I came away astonished by how much writing I could accomplish when I set boundaries for everything else.

I won’t be checking my blog this week, though posts will continue to go up due to the automagical wonders of WordPress. I’ll be working on a manuscript and maybe generating some new ideas in the process.

It’s amazing how a change of scene can get the creative juices flowing.

 

The idealized image of the spa (I wish) and the let’s-get-real image of an actual writer at work both come from Shutterstock.com and are used with permission.

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