DIY Writing Retreat + Bootcamp

At the end of Day 3 I’m asking myself Why?— Why am I doing this to myself- not allowing myself to do much of anything that doesn’t pertain to the novel?

I do other things, of course, because life is full of so many other things than writing. I just made kombucha (it’s on a time schedule), and I picked blackberries & blueberries (they too have a timeline and will disappear in a few weeks or days, a delicious part of PNW living). But by framing my day as a writing retreat I’m building awareness of what I’m doing when I’m not doing what I said I’d be doing- writing the novel.

The day begins with so much idealism, and ends a bit sweaty. Earlier I wrote: What is your ideal day? Or weekend? Or life?

My ideal is a writing retreat in a forest, with good coffee, motivation, lots of reading time, and good, healthy food I don’t have to prepare.

To that end, or something that resembles it, I keep crossing things off my schedule, rearranging my life so I can devote more time and energy to this one thing, finishing the novel—If only I can perfect the kind of Focus that keeps me in the writing seat for several hours at a go.
But I like to think of myself as an active person, and Writing is a sedentary sport–I like to think of it as that, then figure out ways to make it more physical.

Before Bootcamp starts at 9am online I get out for a short walk/run around the forested hill nearby to clear my mind and get my blood pumping. Then I’m ready to stand in front of my computer screen on a tall, adjustable desk with a sit-down desk next to it for writing by hand. In the far corner is an art table covered with maps at the moment. I toggle between desks, turn off my camera, lift small weights while I listen. I know multi-tasking is out, but this is the best way to I’ve found to stay focused, keep my bones strong, maybe get some tone back in my arms (typing and cursive aren’t cutting it), all while pursuing a writing life.

Today’s discussion revolved around ways to calm the reticular activating system in our brains- the part that makes us think writing is somehow threatening our survival. I do Yoga, deep breathing, and lots of other activities to help me focus and calm my brain, but I don’t always link them to my writing protocol. Sometimes I draw before writing, but even that becomes more about the drawing than the calming (Here’s a post about drawing just for the health of it One Finisher brought up the idea of checking in with herself, maybe doing a body scan. I like the idea of asking myself, How are you doing, love ? with a British accent (imitating life coach Brooke Castillo). Or, since I’m learning French, Comment ça va, mon cher?

No matter how much or how little I get done each day I’ve found it pays to be kind to myself and others. When that’s not happening it’s time to return to some deep breaths and let the rest fall away until tomorrow, then try again.