This past Saturday, I went on a writer’s retreat with my weekly writing group, the Solitary Scribes. It was a time where we stepped away from our daily responsibilities for the day and focused on our writing.
And we thank our spouses and children for understanding this need and supporting us in our calling as writers.
As I’ve thought about it afterwards, I’ve pondered what I’ve gained in that one day. I came out of it with new insights into my current project, with a fresh sense of the direction of the story. The time spent brainstorming crystalized my thinking. I was able to use the time we set aside for individual writing to free write pages of story flow (the closest I come to outlining now). I have a foundation from which I can jump into the novel.
Today, I’m struck with the thought that retreats are not only for writers. I remember other jobs I’ve held and how the non-stop, high intensity of some of them begged for a time away, to contemplate and recharge. But time away from the job meant time involved with family and church and chores. And the phone hovering with a call from work about a crisis.
How do we do it? How do we recharge? We think vacations help but all too often they can be just as intense with
traveling, seeing new places, adjusting to new things. Do we really rest or just expend the same amount of physical and emotional energy in different places? I used to plan an extra day of vacation so I could have a day of “rest” before heading back to work. I needed it to unwind and then rewind.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve learned the value of down time, of stepping away. Now, on Sundays, I don’t do anything associated with writing, both the creative and business sides. Now the day is a time to relax with a movie or a book I read for fun, not to learn the craft, and a pleasant dinner out.
I regret not knowing this when I worked my other jobs and life was on the go seven days a week.
So, make some time to step away, even if it’s only half-a-day, or a couple of hours. A complete break from “normal” activity to let the body, mind, and spirit re-orientate.
What are some of the things you do to recharge, to unwind?