Harnessing the Transformative Power of a Writer’s Retreat

Deutsch: Retreat
Deutsch: Retreat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you read or listen to many coaches for authors, you might notice them saying the same thing.

The first purpose of inspirational writing is to change yourself.

You may or may not agree with that idea, but you probably have noticed that often when we teach something to someone else, we are the ones who learn the most.  Personally, I have always found any kind of writing to be transformational.  Even writing computer user guides can teach you something about writing.

The process of organizing our thoughts or simply writing them, at the very least lets us know what our thoughts are.  Sometimes when we’re lucky, our writing creates beauty and wisdom and inspiration for others.

Most of all, writing is a form of self-expression.  What else could we be put upon this earth to do, if it is not to share our best self?  If writing calls to you, why not see where yours will take you this summer in an even more concentrated way and take part in a writer’s retreat?

You may already be planning on attending a writer’s retreat or creating your own.  Whether your retreat is 15 minutes or the whole summer, give yourself the chance to learn, grow and explore your unique self that you’re expressing.

In the next few posts, I’m going to offer some ideas on how to increase the expression of your self in a self-driven writer’s retreat. You deserve something that goes beyond your typical routine with writing and you can do that on your own.  However, if you want to include other writers, that’s great too!

Had you planned on giving yourself the gift of a writer’s retreat this season or this year?

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Energy Booster for Writers

writing
writing (Photo credit: found_drama)

This is the final post in my current series of blogs about taking the brakes off of your personal energy and innate goodness.

Today, I am sharing ideas about why it matters for writers to understand our personal energy, and to be aware of the type of energy that we’re putting into our writing.

Nowadays, most of us are bombarded with information and writing that is packed with different kinds of energy.

Some communications are uplifting, funny and inspiring.  Others are angry, demeaning, fearful.  Of course, many pieces of writing are boring because the energy of emotion is not present in them at all!

Your writing has an energy to it that often reflects the kind of day that you’re having.  This doesn’t mean you should only write when your energy is “good”. Sometimes, the “negative” energy is just what a story needs to create drama and interest.  So, it’s not necessary that your energy becomes all sunshine and roses.  However, it’s helpful to track your energy over the course of time to notice how the type of energy you are experiencing and creating affects your writing.

south to north view of chicagoland area
south to north view of chicagoland area (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Energy Boosters for Writers worksheet is something I’m putting together for my 7 Elixirs class for Writers that I’ll going to be offering this fall in the Chicago area.  It’s based on the writing coaching work that I’ve done in the last few years.

I’ve noticed that finishing projects often requires that we manage our energy for the toughest part of writing which is when we are refining our work.  This is the time when we throw out good and sometimes great ideas for the sake of a story or grant application or marketing brochure or memoir.

This worksheet may not make complete sense, because it’s out of context to the rest of the course that I’ll be giving.  Yet, I’m sharing it anyway because it’s rather self-explanatory, and shows you a different way of managing your time and energy in conjunction with your writing.

Energy Booster for Writers Worksheet

Hope you’ve enjoyed this series of blogs!  Tomorrow, we’ll be back to some literary musings.

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Does the Soul of Your Book Have Cravings?

Kashmir: Symphonic Led Zeppelin
Kashmir: Symphonic Led Zeppelin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In many ways, I’ve had an ideal writer’s life for the last few years.  For a while,  I was very frustrated with myself, because I felt like I was doing the novel-writing process in the wrong way, and that I was missing some right way to be creative.

For the last six months, I’ve taken a different approach to giving birth to my novel.  Rather than thinking of novel-writing as a project or task to be completed, I’ve begun to work with the soul of my book, and treat it as though it were a person rather than an inanimate object that will sit on a shelf or in the Amazon cloud.

One thing that has been helping me to move forward is to look even more closely at the parallels between creating a novel and giving birth to children.

My child-bearing experience was different from many women.   I stopped working as much as possible when I had both my kids and enjoyed the pregnancy.   I believed and still believe that women should treat themselves very kindly when they are pregnant.

On the whole I look back at my pregnancies as some of the most enjoyable times of my life, because I felt that I was doing sacred work.  My belief was that my children were special people being sent by God to live in the world and take part in the Great Turning of our world.  I still believe they are my greatest creations.

Yet, I also feel that the books that I’m writing could be contributions to changing the way we look at the world to support a Great Turning towards honoring life and the earth more than greed and materialism.  Creating the novels has actually felt more difficult for me than having children.  So, I’m starting to honor more and more what I did when I was pregnant.

Here are a few things I’ve noticed.

During both pregnancies, I had cravings for foods that I never liked before then.  The one I remember the most is pink grapefruit juice.  I couldn’t get enough of it while I was pregnant with both of my children, and hated grapefruit juice before that time.   I still like to drink it every so often, because it reminds me of that special time in my life.

Led Zeppelin, January 1975, Chicago
Led Zeppelin, January 1975, Chicago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My novel has different cravings.

While I’ve been writing my novel, I’ve had a strange desire to listen to Led Zeppelin music, which I didn’t like at any other time in my life although, though I had always loved the song Kashmir.  As I started writing more deeply, I started to get weirdly obsessed with listening to Kashmir, and then decided maybe I should listen to more Led Zeppelin and found I now like it.

It’s the strangest thing to me, but I feel like somehow Led Zeppelin music has a certain kind of soul to it that the soul of my book craves.  For someone who is fairly introverted and loves quiet, lyrical New Age and Classical music this attraction to Led Zeppelin music feels odd.

On top of that,  I started writing my own music and lyrics.  That has helped me to hear the book’s story.  I attribute these new connections with music to the soul of the book requiring me to be lyrical in a different way for it.

When I was pregnant with both of my boys, I had a certain way of living that I’m now embracing with novel-writing. While pregnant, I allowed myself to:

  • Trust that something bigger than myself was working through me.
  • Treat that time of giving birth as a holy gift and treasured it.
  • Enjoy the process of listening to what the soul of my book needs to grow and flourish.
  • Act upon what the soul of the new life in me needs.
  • Appreciate that giving birth takes a lot of energy so I deserve to be kind to myself.
  • Allow the new life to come forth when it is ready.
Past Childbirth Scene
Past Childbirth Scene (Photo credit: nep)

This is my way of giving birth to children and novels.  It’s not for everyone.  Other people who I knew worked very hard while they were pregnant and it was not a big deal to them.  They could multi-task.  For the most part, I could only do one thing.

Other women’s childbirth experience was very different from mine, but also good for them.  Just like there are other people who work full-time and write great books, there are many ways to be a writer.  Some people need quiet, some need to be writing around other people.

We all have to find the way to give birth that is best for us.  There is no one size fits all approach to writing.

Have you found your own path to honoring the cravings and soul of your writing?

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Do You Create Secret Journals or Videos for Your Children?

the next four journals
the next four journals (Photo credit: paperbackwriter)

I decided this week’s theme is about how do we leave a legacy with our writing, our art and our life.

Today, I want to start with a simple writing idea.

Before my first son was born, I got the idea to write a secret journal that I would give to him sometime in his teenage years.  The journal would contain quotes from me and his father and his grandparents.  Then over the years, it would contain the wisdom that I have acquired for living a good life as well as expressions of how proud I have been of him throughout his childhood.

It’s been a while since July of 1998 when I started the first journal when I was pregnant with my first son. Now about 14 years later, I have two journals — one for each of my sons.  I’ve been sporadic about adding material to them.  Life gets in the way.  I was reminded of this journal today as I shot a video of our house and garden as a reminder of their early life for my boys to add a video component to my “secret writings”.

It’s easy to forget how short life is.  We think it will go on and on forever.  We worry about the daily challenges of life — making a living, getting a promotion, buying a new car, getting our kids into the “right” schools, saving for retirement and so many other transitory concerns.  We get annoyed with our kids for stupid things they do, or ourselves for being less than the person we wanted to be.

My inspiration for writing journals for my children is my mother.  She has always been a great letter writer.  I have a chest full of letters and keepsakes from her.  My mom also taught me how to ask deep questions about life from the time I was little.

Unfortunately, I have very little from my father in the way of written expressions of love or wisdom shared, and I can only remember vaguely the things he shared with me.   I have photos but they aren’t as powerful as written words when it comes to sharing wisdom.  He wasn’t a talkative man either, so I sometimes wonder what mattered to him in life.  I still miss his presence in my life, four years after his passing.  It made me cry to see what he had written in my son’s journal back in 1998.  I am so glad that I asked him to write something when he still could.

There’s no guarantee my kids will appreciate their wisdom journals from me.  I just hope they will know that I cared enough to think often about their future happiness as well as my own.  I want them to know that I will always be wishing them the best for them from wherever my spirit takes me.

If you have kids, it doesn’t matter how old they are, or even if they’ve moved out of the house.  Think about sharing your love and wisdom with them in a journal or video. For there will be a time when you won’t be around to show how much you care.

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