The past couple of weeks, folks in my writing world have been on the go, go, go.
I went away to Cape Henlopen State Park for a poetry & prose writers retreat. Mystery writing friends went to a “police academy” for writers, and the city of Cleveland was overrun with crime authors for the Bouchercon conference. More pals from the great state of Texas met for a weekend and, according to one source, met in a place called the Stagecoach Inn to solve the world’s problem. Oh, and write a bit, too, of course.
I have attended my fair share of retreats, conferences, and writing weekends. After the post-event high fades, I check back over my notes to make sure I have not forgotten some illuminating tidbit of advice.
At last weekend’s retreat, we did two evenings of critiques, some white-board work on characterization, a morning of writing meditation, discussions of memories, fantasies, and how to incorporate basic human drives into fictional characters. All good stuff.
But, as always, there is one major advancement I took away from the weekend. I call it an advancement because it will do just that: push me forward to be a better writer. I call it my Take Away. Every time I go away or attend a writing event, I try to find one clear Take Away that best serves my desire to always grow as a writer.
Last weekend’s Take Away was an exercise on the ideal writing studio. The goal was to focus on the perfect place to write; to walk past the impediments between you and a place and time to write; to speak back to your inner critic; to identify your specific writing goals; and to listen to your Ideal Reader and what that person would say to you.
This exercise was set firmly in the land of woo-woo. It was motivational, addressing fantasies and mental blocks, but it also honed in on something important: what I want to write. I even made a list.
My ideal writing studio is far away physically, but the exercise let me imagine it around me when I am anywhere: home, library, coffee shop. As long as I move past the physical barriers and ignore the mental ones, I can get there at any place and any time.
That’s my Take Away. Close my eyes, and I’m in my ideal writing studio, writing what I want to write.
Have you been away somewhere and picked up an illuminating new skill? Did a workshop reach out and grab you or a panel seem to address you by name?