Carve out time and space to write, and protect it as Cerberus would guard Hades

I’m writing this post from a cabin in the woods. Truly. I’m in a small town on Vancouver Island, and I travelled about five hours to get here. I know it’s over the top to say I drove down icy roads to get here, but that’s true, too. Life provides the drama, and I lock in at 40 km/hour in a 90 km/hour zone and ride it out.

I booked a long weekend for myself as a writing retreat. I left my partner at home, hired a catsitter, paused my email, put on my out-of-office. I have a goal for the weekend, and a writing schedule for each day. I’m keeping this post short because I need to get back to it.

If you’re serious about writing, you need to be serious about the act of writing. I’ve written before about committing to writing every day. But every few months, or every year, or whenever you can manage it with your other commitments, arrange to take a writing retreat.

Ideally this retreat will be away from home, routine, and regular demands. It can be agony to be alone with your thoughts for days on end, but you will be able to accomplish more in this retreat than you can in weeks or months of slogging away in small doses. The small doses count, they really do, like saving for retirement or flossing your teeth nightly. It’s like staying on top of your finances: recording your incomings and outgoings daily or weekly makes it easier to file your taxes once a year. But a few times a year, it serves you well to do a deep dive into your larger budget and financial goals.

You don’t have to drive five hours or book the proverbial cabin in the woods to make your retreat legit. Try swapping homes with another writer friend, or petsitting, or doing a farmstay in exchange for a block of labour-free time in solitude.

You owe it to your writing community to be generous when sharing your ideas and feedback. You owe it to yourself to be miserly when sharing the time that you could be using to write. Guard this time. It’s yours.

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