I recently checked my calendar and noticed something exciting. In the first week of July, there are zero appointments on my calendar! Now, I love coaching the 60-some clients I am working with this year. I love getting on Zoom calls and helping professional artists and budding writers build lives around their creativity. And…I love the weeks when I have space to do my own creative work.
With all that space next week, and it being an American holiday, I decided to take the first week of July as an at-home writing retreat. My time will be focused on making serious headway on my book, The Busy Woman’s Guide to Writing a World-Changing Book. My birthday is smack in the middle of it, so I may take some time for a massage and dinner with my sweetie.
How to design an at-home writing or art retreat? With all the roles we play and things we do, it’s not easy. But it’s possible. I have written about this before, but I’ll share the current practices I use to structure an at-home retreat.
Set an intention. Mine is: I am deeply and happily immersed in the work of writing this book. While I may work on other things too, my focus is my book.
Set a goal. My goal is to complete the revisions on this draft and to go over the whole book to make sure it’s organized in a way that is most useful for the reader. This is an ambitious goal, but I find it helpful to set goals that really engage my focus and energy.
Set aside other things. I have a lot of other projects on the docket for the fall and for 2019. (I can’t wait to share with you!) But this week’s focus is on making as much progress on the book as I can. Its next step is giving it to a few beta readers, and I want to get it in shape as soon as I can.
Set space. I will set aside cooking and cleaning by making a giant salad and making sure I have other food for the week prepared or delegated. The studio will be clean and ready to work. My writing space will be in my office, at the Botanic Gardens, and as a treat, a cafe nearby.
Set up physical support. Walking and exercise benefits my creativity enormously, so I will make sure I have that on the calendar. There are some new aqua classes at the rec center that I am eager to plunge into.
Set focus. I am always challenged by doing my work simultaneous to posting on social media. Shots of me working on my book in the Botanic Gardens are fun and hopefully inspiring. But do they help me hold my focus? I will decide next week if sharing my progress helps me or detracts from my focus on writing. Sometimes it’s good to go into the writing cave solo.
Set boundaries. This one seems obvious but it’s rare that we actually set up boundaries to serve our focus. My boundaries for the week include letting my husband know that I am focused on the book, and that I will be diving into it first thing during the day, taking time midday to work in my art studio, and then resuming work in the afternoon. Other boundaries include not checking email until midday, after a solid writing session.
Set up fun. When we’re working in a focused way, we also need to give ourselves a break with some delight and fun. I will have time each day to continue with the 100 Day Project – about 15 days left! Spending time making art always calms and replenishes me. I will also plan to go to a movie one night.
What about you? How can you set yourself up for an at-home retreat? It could be a day, or two, or three days. Make it yours and make it work for you and your project.