Tag: Writing Tools


Writer’s Retreat

With the semester winding down, I am ready to focus all of my energy on writing and my upcoming book tour. Since the start of finals week, though, my batteries have been pretty low. As I worked on projects and essays, I kept thinking about how much I’d love to go on a writing retreat. If you’ve never had the opportunity, writing retreats are amazing, like a spa for your brain. You get to just focus on relaxing, getting your creativity flowing, and exercising your writing muscles. So, I’d love to go on a writing retreat, but I don’t have the extra money or time right now. But it got me thinking: why don’t I just have my own mini-writing retreat at home? Wouldn’t that be amazing?!

YES, it would be amazing! And that’s exactly what I am going to do. Wednesdays are my day off, and traditionally I’ve bogged them down with errands, chores, and other things that get in the way of my writing time. Today, I’m going on my very own retreat. The more I thought about it, the more I got excited. A retreat is a perfect way to get out of school mode and back into full-powered writing mode. To begin, I wrote down all of my favorite parts of going on a writing retreat and came up with a relaxing schedule for myself.

Julia’s Mini-Writing Retreat

7:00 a.m. Wake-up: brew a pot of mango green tea and write out goals for the day, and start writing!

A cup of tea can do a world of good

A cup of tea can do a world of good

9:00 a.m. Take a break for breakfast with Shane

10:00 a.m.-Noon Work on current chapter (goal #1 is to finish chapter by the end of the retreat!)

If you get stuck, try writing in a journal

If you get stuck, try writing in a journal

Break for lunch

1:00-3:00p.m. Continue work on chapter

Break for Yoga

Yoga helps me focus and relax

Yoga helps me focus and relax

Dinner: something delicious, healthy, and indulgent like this recipe for asparagus stuffed shells!

Relax: watch a movie, read a book, take a walk, spend some time in the garden…let my brain unwind for a bit

Before Bed: At least another half-hour of writing and set goals for tomorrow

Retreats are meant to be revitalizing and rejuvenating, so the important part of planning your own retreat is doing what is right for you. Whether you have an hour or a whole day, you can plan your own writing retreat. You can start with prompts from a writing guide (I recommend Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer), meditation, a run, some free journaling, a piece of chocolate cake–basically, whatever helps you get in the groove.

The most important part of a retreat is in the name: it takes you out of your normal world and helps you reconnect with your writing. For that reason, I’m going to take a break from social media for the day (after I post this) because it is the one distraction that draws me away from writing every time. So, no matter what you need a retreat for, turn off your cell phone, put your chores on hold, and have a wonderful time treating yourself.

See you when I get back! ūüôā

Happy Wednesday!

What would your mini-retreat look like?




When Life Gives You Lemons: Write About It!

After this class is over, I want a t-shirt that says, “I Survived E-Publishing & Web Design L&I SCI 685.” The lettering would be all in gold glitter–possibly diamonds–because after this weekend, I deserve at least some glitter. Remember back on Friday how in my ignorant bliss I rambled on about my great writing groove and how much I’ve been writing? Enter, my web design project. I had planned to work on it Friday and Saturday night, and have it completed by the end of the weekend. Such innocence.

Long story short, I worked on the project for four hours on Friday only to discover that I hadn’t saved it in the correct format. Oh yes, there were tears.

It’s okay, I told myself. You’ve got all day Saturday. You can fix this.

I woke up extra early on Saturday to begin work. Two hours later, after managing to¬†tweak the web layout with some simple code, I got a little cocky. I figured I was ready to make some big changes. And totally screwed the entire layout up, and I mean BAD. Everything went wonky because I deleted a few lines of code and couldn’t undo the damage.

As you can imagine, I reacted the way any 26-year-old professional writer and graduate school student would react: I threw a temper tantrum. Tears, yelling, throwing things across the room, I did it all.

When I finally calmed down, I realized I was overtired and did the only thing you can do after a temper tantrum. I took a nap. Yup, just like a five-year -old.

I’d forgotten just how magical naps are. When I awoke, my friend texted me and asked if I wanted to go HORSEBACK RIDING. I immediately turned from a five-year-old in to a twelve-year-old girl and squealed. After riding horses, we grilled outside because it was a gorgeous 60 degrees (I had no idea, being trapped in my cave of despair all morning), and ended up at the Roller Derby after dinner. Have you been to one? Imagine Xena in roller skates. It was crazy awesome, and I instantly wanted to be a Derby Girl–until my husband reminded me that I have a bleeding disorder.

*Sigh* Oh well, I’d just have to kick my assignment’s butt instead. Sunday, I did just that. I am proud to say that I made actual progress during the five hours I worked, and even got to play outside a bit and watch an old Donna Reed movie with Shane.

But why am I telling you all this? What does this have to do with writing? Nothing. I did absolutely no writing over the weekend. I hardly did any reading. I always hear people saying that writers write every day. If you are a writer and feel inadequate because you can’t commit that time, I am here to tell you that you are not alone. There used to be whole weeks where I didn’t get a chance to sit down with my thoughts. Months. It physically pained me not to write, but what was worse was the guilt: How can I be a writer if I don’t write?

Life happens. Sometimes you end up riding horses or¬†screaming your head off at a roller derby.¬†I wouldn’t have skipped out on those things for anything. In the long run,¬†actually going out and experiencing life helps make me a better writer than staying cooped up in my cave and thinking about what they would be like.¬†I planned on spending all of Sunday morning working on the sequel to Seven Stones, but I have a serious project due this week. So, what is a writer to do? Write a blog post about it! This is the first chance I’ve gotten to write for two days, so I figured I’d make the most of it. In my writing, I’ve learned that ALL experiences–good, bad, and ugly–can be used to your advantage.

Which brings me to my writing tip of the day. I’ve been reading Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer.¬†I’m not the biggest fan of non-fiction, so a writing guide has to be good to keep me turning pages. I’m happy to say that Writing Tools is full of inspirational tidbits and excellent workshop exercises to help get writers doing what we love best: writing! Here’s the tip that really hits home for me: Discount Nothing.

“Some days you will write many poor words. Other days you’ll write a few good words. The poor words may be a¬†necessary path to the good words.”

As someone whose rewritten her current manuscript three times, I know that this is true. Words, whether they are gems or stinkers, are still words. Some days, you get to write them down. Other days, you just write them in your head. No matter what life throws at you, you are still a writer.

Here’s to a New Week of Writing! Happy Monday!

Ever have a story you wish you could write? What’s stopping you?