Following on from my recent blog post from a few days ago, on Planning a Personal Retreat, which you can read here: https://livingfully2017.wordpress.com/2019/06/06/planning-a-personal-retreat/
I am embarking upon a three day writing retreat.
Ok, so I’m not actually going to be staying in a cute and cosy log cabin in the woods, but I did feel that in line with my teenage dreams from years ago a picture of a log cabin was a necessity – don’t you agree? 🙂
As per my earlier post on planning a retreat, I have carved out some space and time for myself to focus on a couple of projects that are important to me. I am fortunate enough to live alone and have a cosy flat which affords me the opportunity for creativity and solitude. I have also taken three days off work so that I can focus more seriously on my writing, and also intersperse that with a couple of other creative projects, and taking that time off means that I have given myself a sense of accountability to use it well. I had tried to plan working writing time into my after work time in the evenings and at weekends. However, this didn’t quite work for me. There would be days when I’d feel particularly productive, creative and motivated and I could use the time well, but on the whole that plan and intention just seemed to slip by the wayside. After work I’d come home and would have to organise dinner (however quick and simple that might be for a bachelorette! 🙂 ) but I’d also want to use the time just to unwind, or on a good day maybe go for a walk or do some exercise inside, and of course I’d get caught up in frittering away my time online. Additionally on one night of the week I’d attend a Bible study and prayer group, and throughout the week I’d also make time to pray, so really the writing after work plan wasn’t fitting in with my lifestyle and concentration levels after work. I have in the past taken time off, 5 days I think which in addition to the weekends gave me a lovely 9 day stretch of time to focus on working on my book. I don’t know about you with your creative or other pursuits, but I feel that with creative projects you can’t merely schedule in a little bit of time every day to really do your best work. Blogging helps me to write regularly, and it doesn’t require the same amount of emotional and mental concentration as writing my novel does, but it is so helpful in keeping up the practice of writing on a reasonably regular basis (although I apologise for the times when I seem to go ‘AWOL’ due to life getting busy). I also write regularly as a part of my role at work doing policy and research work, but that involves formal business writing, which although I am quite proficient in, for the most part it isn’t such a passionate affair for me as creative writing is.
For me, setting aside focused creative writing time involves a build up and a cool down in a sense. The build up, or preparatory time is moving out of the zone of my Monday to Friday work schedule and easing myself into a more creative ‘space’. Over the past few days, since Thursday (it is Sunday as I write this) I have been gently easing into this by blogging about preparing a personal retreat, and then getting my home organized a bit so that I won’t be overly distracted by pending housework (although there is still some stuff needing done, but isn’t there always? It’s important to have some set aside tidy space to be creative, but at the same time to ensure we use the time fully even if that means we need to attend to other less pressing ‘chores’ in other rooms at a future time. Boundaries need to be drawn around our set aside time so that we can pursue our dreams and not lose them in the midst of the day to day of our lives). I also spent some time sitting quietly with my thoughts, processing some emotions including difficult ones, and I have been spending time in prayer and resting, walking outside and engaging again in adult colouring in. These things may seem unrelated to the task at hand, but it sometimes takes a little time to allow our minds to inhabit a focused creative space to engage more fully in a specific project.
However, I also realise the importance of not allowing ‘preparation’ – both internal and external – to become a distraction from what I actually want to use the time for. And it can so easily become a distraction, because for some strange reason we can tend to find reasons to not focus on the things in life we love to do and create.
So, all in all, this blog post is me giving myself a bit of accountability by sharing it with you. This is ‘life as it happens to be’ for me right now, and you are all an important part of that journey. So hopefully this will allow me to move more determinedly out of the preparation space and into inhabiting a focused creative space. I may or may not leave my home over the next three days, we’ll see, and hopefully if you don’t see much from me on my blog over the next few days that will mean I am being productive and creative elsewhere, and will have more to share with you on my ‘return’. If however, you do see more of me here, feel free to give me a sharp reminder to stay focused and stop procrastinating, and get back to it! 🙂
So, over to you – do you have any creative projects or ventures planned this year? I wish you all the very best with them, and with your reading and blogging. xx
- Writing Goals: For the sake of keeping myself accountable, I think I should specify some writing goals to achieve during my time. As much as I’d love to say my goal is to write for, say 8 hours a day for the next three and a half days, that may be a little unrealistic and discouraging if I don’t meet that. It takes time to read over what I have already been working on (for the past several years!) and quality is important, not just quantity of time or words. So instead, I’ll set a minimum standard and aim for writing (not including re-reading time) at least 15 minutes every hour for a minimum of 7 sessions a day. I hope and intend to write for a few hours at a time, but at least this way I am not adding extra pressure to myself during the creative process, but am setting goals and boundaries to ensure that I don’t just fritter away my time and not get anything done. Here goes….wish me well 🙂 x