Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The lure of writing getaways

So my hubs, for anyone who doesn't know, is crazy about lacrosse. He coaches the club team at school. He plays on a traveling league. He plays on a local pick-up league. He coaches at (multiple, out-of-state) camps in the summer. He plays in tournaments year round.

Seriously. It's insane.*

He has two tournaments coming up. Each are three-day trips to picturesque spots (Lake Placid!). I've been to a few of these tournaments. There's maybe 20 teams, of 15-25 grown men** per team. They all get sponsors for their uniforms and helmets, and the lacrosse companies set up promotional tents all over the parking lot. There's a big bracket set up and 3 days are spent whittling the 20 teams down to a couple winners. Then everything gets broken down and a couple month later, it all starts over in a different city, with half the players shuffled between teams and new uniforms and helmets for all.

Notice what a big fan I am.

But I'm going to both of these tournaments, and I have a plan. I'm going to make it a writing-retreat-type getaway. Three days of quiet hotel rooms with lake-front views and room service. Nature everywhere to kick start my creativity.

On the one hand, I'm ridiculously excited about this. I've been craving long blocks of dedicated writing time. This is exactly what I need. The end is in sight. With enough focus, I might just get there.

On the other hand, I am my own worst enemy. I am brilliant at staring at my computer screen for two hours without actually writing anything. I can research and research and research . . .

In other words, I could very easily come away from these trips with nothing, even if I had the best of intentions, even if I ignored all the distractions and kept my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard the entire time.

Anybody done this? Gone away for a few days with a primary goal of writing for massive blocks of time? How'd you do? Anyone have some strategies for using the time to my advantage? For staying focused and productive?

*though lets be honest, it's not that much more insane than spending hundreds of hours writing down what the voices in my head say, and swearing it'll pay off one day.
* uh, right.


Marnee Bailey said...

This made me giggle. Both the parts about the grown men and their clubs and the parts about staring at the computer and not getting anything.

Actually, I was just telling the hubs about this last night. I sat in front of my story and tried to figure something out. For over an hour. It's painful. It doesn't feel like REAL writing when you're just sitting there navel gazing.

I'm trying to give myself some slack. I'm in the middle. I know myself. I know this means that I'm gearing up to write the rest of it. I know that I ALWAYS stall out in the center. I'm not really stalled this time, more I'm working through implications. I know what happens, but I'm trying to figure out how and why. I'm not panicked. More, I feel impatient.

I know I'll get going soon. I just have to wait for it. And try to be patient.

MsHellion said...

Frequently. *LOL* But I think sitting in front of your computer is a step in the right direction, unless your research is all on Facebook. You could always do those blocks for certain sites so at least you ARE researching and not lurking on social media, like I would be. *LOL*

I've printed off the WIP (small print, small spacing) and am now reading through again, trying to get the rhythm back to figure out what the hell I thought I was doing because I'm just out of it now.

Terri Osburn said...

I've attended two actual writing retreats. I don't remember getting much done at either of them. One was way too early in this journey. I had no idea what I was doing, what I was writing, how to even write. But that one did have a really good workshop presenter.

The second turned into a social event. There was much more talking and laughing than writing. But that was also many years ago. This blog makes me want to get a cheap room down at the beach and lock myself away for a weekend.

Better yet, head for the Outer Banks and do this. Considering how far behind I am on this book, I might just HAVE to do this.

Also, these tournaments sound fun. Yes. I said it. Now when are y'all coming back down here? :)

Janga said...

I think the staring at the computer screen is a stage in every writer's process, however different other stages may be. The staring bothers me less than the type-and-delete stage. At least when I'm staring I can convince myself ideas are simmering in my head. With type and delete, I know I'm only producing crap.

I'm skeptical that I'd get anything done at a retreat involving others--unless the dedicated purpose was brainstorming. That might work. However, I would love to take three or four days and retreat to a hotel with my notebook and laptop and room service available. I think I could break my word count per day record.

Terri Osburn said...

Janga, if you're with the right group, there is the added bonus of accountability. And often a lack of internet, which is always helpful. That type and delete thing always feels like a dance. One step up, two steps back, two steps to the left, one step right. I'm moving but not getting anywhere.

Then when it works is when the dance starts traveling around the floor. You have to do the warm up steps to get to the steady movement.

Maureen said...

I've never done the writing retreat, in group, but I imagine a lot of drinking going on... On the other hand, if it were organized for breaking into individual work sessions...might do the trick. Now and then we'll do that at my RWA meetings and it's surprising what can be accomplished in a quiet room with the sound of keyboards all going.

The write my myself retreat is more something I've done at the organizing or editing stages. Taken advantage of a need to be out of town to get my shit together...but I'd like to think that if I were FORCED to spend a week in a hotel room with a good view, that I'd actually add to my word count.

But I have no idea...

P. Kirby said...

Uh, no. While the setting my be idyllic, as a means of accomplishing, hiding away in some picturesque locale has little appeal.

First, for all that I bitch about the hot, dry, desert, I've got my own little slice of heaven, with walking trails, a rural setting, and my fab garden. Second, if I go someplace picturesque, I will hit the hiking trails, all day, till my legs are wobbly. Third, a setting with other people is totally out of the question. I can't write around other people. I can edit, but actual creation requires alone time.

Honestly, provided I can tune out the Internet (difficult), sitting in front of the computer, good book in hand (yes, I need to read to feed the muse), good tunes going, is very productive time for me.

Terri Osburn said...

Pat, I'm with you. Though I need total silence (no tunes!), I'm 3 miles from the ocean. If I went somewhere I'd just be thinking, "Why am I paying for this room when I can write for free at home??"

I've written at Panera and B&N in the past, but 99% of my writing is done in my house. I'm just too practical to bother going anywhere else.

haleigh said...

I'm so sorry I couldn't be around today to keep the conversation going! I love how we each have our own process and style. I'm definitely talking about a solo-retreat. I imagine I would get caught up in the socialization and drinking too :)

I'd never really thought about the staring-at-your-screen times as dance steps in the process. What a great analogy - makes it feel more necessary than idiotic :)