Last month, I created my DIY writing retreat for a weekend. I stayed at a wonderful Airbnb artist loft, which happened to be an attic. Once my curiosity balanced out (hello, I stayed by myself in an unfamiliar place. I was checking everything out, especially the interior design lol), I was able to focus on writing. I ended up working on a horror novella.
Fast forward to March—now most people are panicking over the coronavirus. Rightfully so. There’s been a confirmed positive case in Shepherdstown, which is only a town over from me. My job had already locked our lobby to keep the public out. We can only help our customers over the phone for now. Starting today, we all have new schedules. Some departments get to work from home. I didn’t get that lucky. However, since only two employees can be in each department at a time, I volunteered for the afternoon shift. I don’t have to go to work until one p.m. My mornings are free, and I plan on taking advantage of it. So, I’m recollecting what I learned during my writing retreat to help me make the most out of my mornings, until my old work schedule returns where I go in at eight a.m. Maybe focusing on my writing and art projects will help reduce my stress and anxiety over the fear of the coronavirus…
Here’s the top three things I learned from my DIY writing retreat:
1. So many times I’ve made the excuse of I can only work in a cafe or public place. Not anymore. I was very productive all by myself— morning, afternoon, and evening. I didn’t need the background noise of customers and baristas. I didn’t need to people-watch to get my creative juices flowing. If I could concentrate at the quiet artist loft, then I can concentrate at home.
2. It was a good idea that I planned beforehand what stories I’d work on before heading to my writing retreat. I also see that I can be quite flexible with my plans changing without it taking a toll on my mood. I have OCD and am used to routine. My plan was to finish my escape room novella. I had also wanted to revise my urban legends novella but didn’t hear back from my beta-readers in time. Not sweating it, I only focused on writing my horror escape room story. I also wrote some comic diary scripts but didn’t draw anything. My wrist was sore from all the writing.
3. Alec Longstreth is a genius! I follow his advice when it comes to drawing comics. Turned out, his advice of writing down your schedule for the day also works for writing projects. The list I created right after eating lunch or breakfast (depended on when I woke up lol) really helped me stay on track and focus on what I needed to do. The modify column helped keep pressure off. It’s okay if you can’t complete a goal in the time allotted—you can always save it for a different time slot.
***For anyone who has ever participated in a writing or artist retreat, what did you end up learning about yourself?