Full Circle Communications

March 2011
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ease in writing?
"Ease in writing" comes from a poem by Alexander Pope, the British poet:

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.

Note he (and I) didn't say "easy writing." But just as dance lessons can help get you around the floor more gracefully, the goal for this newsletter is to share a tip or two to improve your writing.

DIY Writing Retreat

Blond woman writing
Do you have something you want to (or need to) write, but can't get to with all the distractions of life?

Maybe you are ready for a writer's retreat, which Joanne Lozar Glenn, an experienced retreat organizer and participant, describes as "time you set aside to focus on writing to the exclusion of your other day-to-day responsibilities."

She offers a weekend-long retreat every year--the next one is March 18-20 in Rehoboth, DE. She also says a "Do-It-Yourself retreat" can work, and she explained how. As further fodder, check out some of her recommended books below.

Q: First, what is the advantage of a retreat--how can it help your writing?

A: In your normal day, you probably have jobs, kids, and dirty dishes pulling at you. Your creative writing gets buried under the weight of all those responsibilities. By setting aside specific time for a retreat, you put your writing front and center. You give it time and attention. That to which you give attention flourishes. That to which you deny attention dies.

Q: What might a DIY retreat involve?

A: Doing it yourself involves deciding when, how long, and where you want to retreat, and how you want to spend the time you've set aside.

For example, years ago, two friends and I decided to meet at a West Virginia State Park, rent a cabin, and conduct our own writing retreat. We chose West Virginia because it was equidistant from where each of us lived--Tennessee, Ohio, and Viginia. We arrived on Friday and left on Sunday. We set up maybe four two-hour sessions, with breaks in between, and we each brought ideas for writing and books to share. It was great fun writing together, having solitary time for reading or hiking, and then sharing dinner and a walk under the stars. I went home with a number of drafts that I then worked into finished pieces.

I've also done a solo DIY, where I've taken myself away to a beach or to the country, and used the time to write uninterrupted by work, phone, or family commitments. Or the ubiquitous Internet.

Instead of traveling, some people use the "staycation" concept to create a writing retreat at home. This is good for saving time and money--as long as you clear your calendar of appointments and your home of distractions so you can sequester that time for writing!

Q: Who would most benefit from a solo DIY retreat?

A: Probably someone with a clear writing goal, like finishing an article or organizing her novel, because it's hard to stay motivated and purposeful if your focus is too general.

Q: For those who decide they prefer a more traditional retreat, explain yours.

A: For the past five years, I've been leading "get away and get writing" weekend retreats at Rehoboth Beach in March. I started them because I kept hearing participants in the writing classes I teach say they never had enough time to write. The premise of the retreat is to get away from the distractions of home--the dirty dishes and dust motes calling your name--and write what you need/want to write.

We write from prompts, which could include lines of a story, or a meditation, or a piece of art or music, or we might do specific writing exercises. We build in time for one-on-one consultations, and also for working on that project you've been promising to approach. There's a lot of sharing (all of it optional), and some alone time. And we include time to gather on the porch of the B&B that serves as our headquarters on Saturday night to read our work or just talk shop in front of the fireplace.

This retreat format is just one of many possible variations ... for instance, last year I did a writing workshop specifically for caregivers. It was just a few hours, because most caregivers have limited time and resources.

RetreatBooksRetreat in a Book
pen and paperJoanne Glenn also shared some favorite books to use at a retreat or in other situations where you want to foster creativity. (Note: Where possible, I have added links to the authors' websites, so you can read more about the authors, rather than linking to booksellers.)
  • Anne LaMott's Bird by Bird is great for getting a humorous perspective on writing.  
  • Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way and Susan Tiberghien's One Year to a Writing Life are structured approaches to developing your writing, good if you're someone who likes a more clearly defined path to being creative with writing. 
Get in Touch!

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Full Circle Communications, LLC / Alexandria, VA / 703.212.0349