Writing Retreat, at Home

Writing Retreat, at Home

What is the ‘staycation’ equivalent of having an ‘at-home writing retreat’? Whatever it’s called, that’s how I spent the weekend of 9/12-9/13. My goal was to spend those days brainstorming ideas, sorting through them to determine which were short, medium and long term projects, and then to choose some and determine goals, milestones and schedules. And, if I still had time and energy, I’d sit down to write.

During the week, I compiled a list of prep tasks to help me make the most of my time: take Monday off from paying work (that’s just good sense); order/acquire food so I don’t have to cook unless I want to; get the ‘big sticky note’ sheets of paper I still had at the other house; clear my office floor/make room to move around; drink lots of water!

My sweetheart, Mol, made a hearty breakfast Saturday morning and then left me to my work.

My Sweetheart and Muse making sure I was fueled up.

I started by putting three sheets of paper on my office walls. My idea was to throw all the ideas I had about writing up on that first sheet. No idea was too ambitious, too out there – true brainstorming. I wanted to have everything in one pile, at one time. The determination between Short-Medium-Long term was a bit more pragmatic. I have a hard deadline for submitting a short story to Nerve Endings (10/4), while some activities are foundational for others. I did have to restrain myself a bit so that I didn’t stuff everything I could imagine doing in short term on that list – imagining is not the same as finding actual time between being a full time employee, parent, home room teacher and academic technical support person, partner, kitten dad, and human being attempting to survive Our Current Apocalypse. I still may have been overly ambitious, we shall see.

I defined Short term as between now and November 1. Medium is between now and end of June 2021. Long term stretches from now to the end of 2022. The Nerve Endings submission is on the Short term list, along with doing some research on some of the other goals and projects. Also deciding what I’m writing about for NaNoWriMo 2020. Seems like, given the year we’re having, I should either try to write an even more outrageous apocolypic story than we are living, or write something comforting and sweet.

Dominating the the first month of the Medium list is NaNoWriMo, which I’m returning to after several years away. The remainder will be spent working on my novel manuscript. The goal is to have it ready for my early readers by the end of June. During this time, I will also be doing research on publishers, editors, and all things related to getting a novel (My Childhood Friend the Serial Killer) published. The stretch goal within that time frame is to research the MFA low-residency program at Goddard in Port Townsend – requirements, application process cost and funding options, etc.

The Long term list includes securing a publisher/editor for my novel. And potentially applying for the MFA program.

Along the way, I will be researching places to submit scifi/speculative fiction stories and erotica. I had put working on my Patreon page on the Short list; after some reflection, I decided to push it to Medium, timing it with getting my manuscript ready for readers and a copy editor.

The third sheet of paper had some dates and schedules. The Nerve Endings submission deadline went up. A blog posting schedule went up (at least every other week). And so on. I’m leaving all of this up on my wall for a while. I like being able to go to the schedule to see what I should be working on. This is helping me stay on target.

And I did have the energy and time to do some writing. I sat down with a notebook and wrote out four pages for the erotic story on Sunday and continued on Monday, along with getting a blog post out.

All and all, the process was fun and productive. I found it really wonderful to spend a large block of time concentrating on and prioritizing writing as work and also as a major part of my identity. I was successful in doing what I set out to do. And I feel that I got some momentum and enthusiasm for taking up work that has been gathering dust. It was such a good experience that, with encouragement from my sweetheart, I’m going to retreat quarterly. Perhaps one of those upcoming times, I’ll retreat somewhere other than my house.

Covid willing and the sea don’t rise. *knock on wood*

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