I’m just finishing up a month at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), my first foray into a residency at an artists’ colony. My days have been all writing-writing-writing, punctuated by peaceful walks and reading books in a porch swing. Evenings have been centered around enjoying the creative works of my fellow artists—poetry, prose, paintings, drawings, installations, performance pieces, and musical compositions. To sum up the experience: WOW!
Packing up now, I’m concocting ideas to bring to the upcoming summer months this same kind of inspiration and creative energy. Here are some suggestions for how to turn whole days into personal writing retreats, for you and/or a young writer in your life. In preparation, trawl local newspapers and other event listings, and keep an ongoing list of gallery openings, free concerts, theater and dance shows, author visits, etc. in your local area. Also, reacquaint yourself with the offerings at your nearest parks—nature trails, wetland walks, swimming lakes and the like.
On a day you designate a writer’s retreat—
1. Write for [you fill in the blank] hours in the morning, with no distractions. (Yes, that means turn your phone off.) (No, not on vibrate—off.) (Actually, put it in another room entirely.)
2. After that, go enjoy some nature—a walk, for instance, in your neighborhood or at a local park. Alternately, cook a favorite food or crochet a bookmark. Those are inspired activities, too!
3. Write some more. You decide on length of time.
4. It will probably be evening by this time. Take in an art event: go listen to music, browse a gallery, watch a show, or attend a reading.
String a few of these days together, and I bet you’ll be feeling creative and cranking out some great writing! That’s my plan.