Reflections on a writing retreat

[blog]

I’ve been enjoying a very nice writing retreat. Technically I’m still doing the retreat now, so it feels a bit weird to be writing a blog post on it. But I want to process some of these thoughts during my retreat.

First, the what:

I’m doing my retreat in the afternoons. I currently live abroad, and international travel is restricted. In exchange for accommodation, I work an easy 1-2 hour(s) shift in the mornings, so sometimes I get some writing done beforehand. The remainder of my days (aside from basic maintenance like meal prep and the occasional social something) are being devoted to writing and editing. This retreat runs roughly from the middle of July through (at least) the end of September. Sometimes I write at the beach or the library, but I typically type in the kitchen or on the floor by my bunk.

The good?

  • My brain is loving the amount of time I’m giving it for creativity.
  • I’m getting a much more energized effect in my writing, I think because I’m devoting much more time than usual to it.
  • No one is pressuring me to work another job.
  • I can take the occasional day to rest that side of my creativity and focus on something else. Today is actually a good example of that. I still did some typing, but I also wrote this blog post, found and updated an old online resource, did some more drawing for IBwaD’s cover, and went on a nice hike.
  • IBwaD is plotted as my longest book yet (it’s already surpassed ItU), so it feels good to be almost done with the project
  • I typically have an extra dose of creativity in the mornings before shift
  • I’m progressing noticeably faster in writing and editing
  • I’m performing better and more reliably in consistency checks
  • There are less other constraints on my time since I’ve specifically set aside this time for a writing retreat
  • And I can get real Cadbury here 🙂

The bad?

  • I’ve found myself putting a bit too much creativity-related pressure on myself. I’m having to remind myself that taking the occasional day to do something else is actually a good thing since I can recharge.
  • The spacey air people tend to get from me seems to be getting worse
  • F*ck the nights are cold here (I currently live in the southern hemisphere)
  • I’ve been having a bit of a nerve pain problem. That’s more a coincidence of bad timing, since I had a really rough sinus infection in July. If I understand it correctly, the inflammation from the infection hit the nerve and set off mid-facial nerve pain (which has been causing facial numbing, weird pinching sensations, and aching pains). Cold triggers it.
  • I haven’t figured out a firm end date yet, which adds an unfortunate level of uncertainty around things like future travel plans, changing my writing name, budgeting, and discussions with family. That being said, the COVID-19 situation back home in the states also adds a layer of uncertainty.
  • Speaking of COVID-19, that is still background stress. This is also just unfortunate timing, although I would like to point out that this retreat was loosely planned before the virus hit the news (and I was already in the country).
  • I don’t have a car and I prefer to edit by hand. There’s nowhere to print in town, so I have to either get a lift from someone or take the bus roughly an hour each way.

Ultimately, most of the negatives listed are just coincidences of bad timing. The positives vastly outweigh the negatives to the point that I would like to have more writing retreats in the future.

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