Today I write this post from my a desk that is not my own in a room with no one in it....no child saying, "Momma, I am hungry!" or an older boy saying, "You ready to do history?" or a dog that makes disturbing noises making me think she should go outside or the clock telling me it's time to get dinner started for my family. Today I woke an hour after my usual time and I awoke to silence. Today I lounged in my sleepwear while making sausage, an egg and sautéed kale with a side of guacamole (store-bought- didn't make that) just for me. Today I only got drinks (hot tea) for myself. Today I wrote out 2 blog posts already (this being the third), did research on those blog posts, submitted a manuscript to Julie Hedlund's 12 x 12 forum for critique, wrote to a possible critique group member, wrote to another blogger about the possibility of switching to WordPress.org so that maybe one day I can work with some affiliates and perhaps make just a little bit of profits with my blogging since I spend so much time on it and really enjoy it so much. I also organized my folders of blog materials and PB idea materials. All of this and all before noon and lunch! Today I didn't have to hide my chocolate treats.
How is this possible, you may ask? Don't you have a small child? Don't you homeschool? Don't you cook everything from scratch meaning placing yourself in a kitchen at minimum for 20-30 minutes per meal per day (assuming you have all that planned out?)?
Well.... Yes...to all of those questions. And as I sit here and enjoy my sushi from the restaurant just up the road, I'll tell you how.
#1 I have an incredibly wonderful and supportive husband
(this post is dedicated to you, sweetheart)
So about a month or so ago, I felt in over my head...overwhelmed, stressed and just plain tired and burnt out. Wait...that wasn't just a month ago, that was the last 4 years or more of my life....or has it been 19? LOL.... but anyway, I digress --- about a month ago I was really thinking that while things were overwhelming I absolutely MUST let myself continue my writing because, well, I'm finally feeling like 'me' again and realized I shouldn't have ever let myself stop and I really must figure out how to make this work WITHOUT sacrificing the other priorities in my life(being a wife, being a mom, homeschooling, cooking from scratch, etc.). I saw a post somewhere about how even beginning writers MUST consider their work a REAL JOB...whether it's paying yet or not. That got me thinking... here was my husband going off on another conference...the second within the last year.... I didn't feel, though my heart longed for, ready to go to the big SCBWI conference in New York this year. (maybe next year, honey?) And the price...wow.... gulp. But I thought...hmmm..... what could I do with the three days time if I didn't go to New York and was by myself instead? Soooo...... I approached that wonderful husband of mine. Right now his schedule has finally been smoother (It's been really super awful the last 5 years- that's putting it mildly) and now he gets a few days off at a time. He said as long as it was during time he had off, he was fine with it. In fact, he did #2 for me. 🙂
#2. Find a hotel
I wanted something a lot cheaper than the hotel would have cost me in New York... that wasn't hard! I found one local, close to the store and one of the only restaurants that we can eat at (might not frequent this too often though...I don't think my body is appreciating the rice after eating mostly Paleo for the last couple of months - taste buds, yes, body, no) and has a kitchenette so I can cook most of my meals (the sushi is leftover from last night's quick dinner - I'll make everything else myself!) It's a nice setup in a safe location and fairly affordable.
#3. Make a Plan
So what to do while I'm there? Well- I didn't plan out hour by hour what I would do.... but I had some basic goals in mind:
- Work on My Blog - This post is being written a week in advance. I do not always have time to write posts each day, but I like to be able to put up something new 6 days a week. This means when I get the chance to write several posts, I do. I try to have a week's worth done in advance so that if something happens to prevent me from writing at all, I can still post something.
- Work on my current WIPs! (That's Work in Progress if you don't know) - I have 4 that are in manuscript form but still need lots of revision and another one or two in very rough idea form.
- Look over my old WIPs - These are the old ones that I was working on before taking my almost 5 year hiatus. A couple I had actually written a couple query letters on... it's been so long... I don't even remember all the details in them. SO now is a great time to read over and revise. I did pick one to do that with (therefore I'm calling it current). I can't believe how much easier it was to hack away at it and make revisions I wasn't willing to do 5 years ago! LOL.... not recommending that for every WIP you do though!
- Study my Resources - I want to put in some time to learning the ins and outs of the SCBWI website and learn what's there for me. I also want to spend some more time on the 12 x 12 site so I know what's there and make it as useful as possible throughout the year.
- Follow my fellow bloggers. I've been following many but do not always have the time to read them all. This time may allow me to figure out which ones are the most beneficial for me so I can be sure to keep my eyes on them even when I'm too busy for the others.
- Whatever Else I May Think of While I'm Here!
#4 Bring Everything You Can Think of (That pertains to writing of course)
So this is what I brought with me:
- My Computer!!! Do you remember life without computers? I can but I cannot even imagine what I'd do without it!
- My cell phone (yeah, I still have that need to check in at home...and I do miss them)
- Clothes - comfy ones- yeah I look like a bum but I'm comfy!
- Food - I do not want to waste time going in and out for meals.... while I may take a walk to clear my head if needed - I don't want to HAVE to leave.
- Extra Pencils, Pens, highlighters, paper, etc.
- File Folders - ones that already contain things like WIPs, articles on blog subject matters, etc. and empty ones for any PB ideas I may come up with while I'm here!
- Resource Books: I brought the 2014 Children's Writers and Illustrators Market, the SCBWI The Book: The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children, Ann Whitford Paul's Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication and a variety of other books I'm currently reading or using as reference as well as the printouts of PiBoIdMo posts that I never got around to reading all of....
#9 watch 200th episode of Criminal Minds because you just can't miss that....oh...I guess that won't apply to the rest of you....
# 11 Read, Write, Sleep...repeat....over a course of time...
I intend on continuing my retreats on occasion. It won't be monthly - but maybe bimonthly if we can work it out and it WONT always be three days as this one is. I just felt I was sooooo behind in things and overwhelmed and needing a rest that I insisted this first one be three days. But you do what you can. Maybe you're lucky and can pull off more, but even a day to yourself to do what you need to do to get your writing on track is important!
Have you ever gone on your very own self-made writer's retreat? Tell me about it 🙂