Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘finding time to write’

When you think of Las Vegas, writing retreats may not be the first thing you think of.  Booze. Gambling. Scantily clad women. Hangover-esque bachelor parties. But not writing.

And yet, Vegas is an unexpectedly awesome place to have a writing retreat.  Think about it. There are usually cheap flights and deals on hotels.  The rooms are often quite large – many are suites which have comfy living areas perfectly suited for a bunch of writers to get together to critique or draft.  If you want a distraction but don’t want to waste time, everything and anything you could imagine is usually located within the hotel you’re staying at.  There is no need to even go outside.  You can eat anywhere from a food court a to five star restaurant, see a show, go to the spa, drink, dance, shop or gamble…all under one roof.  This cuts time wastage to a minimum.

And if you’re looking for inspiration, there’s no place better.  I mean, come on.  The place itself is a massive temple to the imagination, to the absurd, the sublime and the tragic.  Vegas is humanity dressed in its most colorful follies.  It is surreal.  Grotesque.  Glittering.  The only thing it is not is boring.  I dare you to walk the length of just a single hotel in Vegas and not come away with at least 3 new ideas for stories.

So, yes, Vegas is actually a fabulous place for a writing retreat.  In fact, I just got back from one yesterday (my second in Vegas).  A group of my writer-friends from Viable Paradise and Taos Toolbox decided it would be nice to have a retreat just for women (no offense, guys, but sometimes it’s nice for us to get away from you).  We wrote, we went to the spa, and we wrote some more.  In just two days I got more writing done than I have in the past month.  Better yet, I got excited about my project again — mostly because talking about it in person with other writers reignited my ethusiasm.

Many of us engage with other writers through writing groups — often online, exchanging manuscripts and feedback via the twisty tubes of the interwebs.  Sometimes we do Google chat or “hangout” online or Skype, but it’s no substitute for live, in-person interaction, for being able to bounce ideas off each other, share worries and triumphs, swap industry gossip and tips, and get to know each other better.

You can do all this at Cons, of course, but they’re so…overwhelming.  There are so many people and everyone’s attention is being pulled this way and that.  Small writing retreats offer a chance to develop relationships and support each other — both as people and writers — that Cons never could (at least in my opinion…please feel free to disagree in the comments!).  Writing can be a very solitary activity and the friendships formed at retreats and workshops help you feel tethered to a community when you’re beating your head against the keyboard alone in your office at 3am.  That is invaluabe, and thus the time and money sacrificed to travel to retreats and workshops is (again, in my opinion) money very well spent.

So, if you’re debating attending a workshop or retreat, I advise you to debate no longer.  Go.  And, if you’re thinking of planning one, I recommend Vegas.

Read Full Post »

Okay, so I know this is all my fault…after all, I’ve been aware that I’d be teaching a new class this fall for months (and months, and months).  I really could have gotten a head start on the lectures at any time.  I even had very good intentions to do so.

But I did not.

And now…oh, now.  I’m barely keeping my head above water over here, folks.  It’s 6pm and I just put the finishing touches on a (frankly) pretty sloppy lecture on Maya rituals for class tomorrow.  There’s a pile of exams to grade.  They are quite literally leering at me.  I’ve got nothing (zilch, zero) prepared for next week.  Heck, I’m not even sure what’s on the syllabus for next week.

And writing, you ask?  Writing?  What’s that?  I think I got a few hundred words in over the weekend, but who the hell even remembers the weekend anymore?  That was months ago.  Or so it seems.

I have been told by pretty much everyone that I do much, much better (as a human being in general) when I’m busy.  It’s true, of course.  A little structure in one’s life goes a long way towards shaping action productively (or, at least, preventing entire afternoons spent on the sofa watching back episodes of Dancing with the Moderately Famous People), but the last few weeks have thrown me a little more structure than I can handle.

This too shall pass, I know.  But in the meantime, I’d welcome suggestions for ways to find time to write.  I know a lot of you out there juggle full time jobs, kids, and so on and still manage to squeeze in those precious writing hours.  Where do you excavate them from?  How do you get your brain to ignore the huge piles of Other Stuff you need to do and focus in on writing?

I’d welcome suggestions, as I currently seem unable to prioritize even 30 minutes a day for my writing.  Tricks?  Tips?

Send help!

Read Full Post »

Most days I like to think I’m pretty damn good at keeping all my juggler’s balls in the air.  Home life.  Work life.  Writing life.  Social life.  Most writers, even successfully published ones, have day jobs they must structure their writing around.  Many of us have families.  All of us have unexpected joys and tragedies to deal with.  It’s part of life.

Those of us who’ve decided to make our writing a priority have devised ways to work it into to our daily lives, carving out spaces and times that we try to keep inviolate.  For some it’s a set time each morning or night, hewed from the dark hours before or after kids and spouses and pets and chores and day jobs claim our attention.  For others it’s a set word count for each day or week, or an office no one else can enter while we’re working, or a cafe we can slip away to.  In the usual ebb and flow of life, these strategies tend to work.

But what about when the unexpected happens?  A baby enters your life.  Someone close to you dies.  You get bad news about your health.  You move houses, or jobs, or spouses.

What do you do when the Big Life Decisions intervene, when that carefully constructed scaffolding gets bumped and comes tumbling down in a shower of ill-fitting pipes and jagged-edged 2x4s?  How do you keep up with your writing then?

Finding the time to write isn’t the only problem here.  So is focus, creativity, and space to think.  When you’re consumed by important things happening in your life (good or bad), how do you summon the mental discipline to focus on fictional worlds and characters, on the struggles of people you’ve given creative life to, but who – quite frankly – will still be there when your personal situation settles down?  Sometimes I can channel whatever is consuming me personally into my writing, other times all I do is hit a wall my mind flatly refuses to find a door through.

I don’t have answers here, just questions.  But I’d be willing to bet nearly every writer I know has faced these same problems at one time or another.  If anyone has insights or advice to share, I sure would welcome them!

And now…I’m off to use my mind lasers to cut a way through this damn wall and WRITE.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: