If you’ve never participated in my online writing retreat (or if you have), you’re in luck! I’m delighted to announce that I’m bringing Inspired back for a new session on July 14, 2018! If you’re on the fence about signing up or you need a reminder about how great it is and why it works, keep reading.
A “writing retreat” can sound self-indulgent, but there’s actual research out in the world about how and why the writing retreat model helps people get more writing done and feel better about it. Instead of trying to cram your writing into weird chunks of time and trying to get writing done by yourself, a writing retreat gives you the dedicated time, structure, and community support to do your best work. You might even find yourself having fun!
When was the last time you carved out specific time in your life to get writing done that wasn’t prompted by the panic of an approaching non-negotiable deadline? A lot of people write in frantic and exhausting binges (all of those people who write their conference papers on the plane on the way to the conference) because they aren’t centering their writing into their lives. People try to cram writing into these weird pockets of time around everything else they’re doing. We “fit in” writing between everything else we’re doing instead of making our own creative ventures the centerpiece our our lives. [And don’t get me wrong. Sometimes you have to work around other things in your life. New parents, for example, have to write around the needs of babies. There are times when other people’s needs surpass our own. You can still be a productive writer in little chunks of time too.] The idea of prioritizing our own writing often feels weird and unfamiliar and a little bit scary precisely because it means prioritizing ourselves and our own creative work. By making a commitment to a writing retreat, you’re taking some inspired action and letting your inner gremlins know that you and your writing are important and you’re absolutely not messing around.
Inspired works for a lot of people because it gives you structure, that secret sauce that propels you forward. Structure isn’t anything more magical than creating containers of time for writing, but making and sticking to a structure is often harder than it looks. If you’ve ever had a day to yourself where you think, “I’m going to work on my writing ALL DAY.” and then haven’t gotten anything done, you’ve likely run into the problem of having a big chunk of unstructured time without a structure in place to use the time effectively. Huge swaths of empty time without structure seems great, but left to our own devices, most of us decide to eat Cheetos instead. Here’s the other thing about structure: it’s one of those weird things in life that’s hard to do on your own. I make my own structures to get stuff done in life (as I talk about here and here), but sometimes (often?) manage to totally disregard my own best intentions. (Yeah, how many times have you scheduled writing time into your calendar like you know you should and then completely blown it off? Me too.) For many people, it’s easier to follow other people’s structures than those of our own making.
The beauty of a writing retreat is that someone else has made the structure for you. Other people’s structures are often way more effective than our own. This is why people need things like syllabi and schedules. Creating structure for other people is also why my #ShutUpandWrite sessions work so well for so many people. Having a structure in place that someone else made eliminates the chance that you’ll talk yourself out of doing what you know you need to do. I’m a big fan of Mel Robbins’s Five Second Rule: must act within five seconds of thinking that you should do something. If you don’t act within those five seconds, you’ll talk yourself out of doing X thing [in this case writing]. Structure is that thing that catapults you over the wall of resistance (usually your own feelings) that’s holding you back. Most people don’t bounce out of bed in the morning and feel delighted to get writing done. Successful writers have developed schedules and writing practices that don’t leave them room for making decisions about whether they want to write. Writing becomes just something they do. As I’ve argued here, habits and structures are marvelous tools to combat the feelings of shame and fear that so often come up when people sit down to write. Sure, you might be feeling paralyzed by fear, but your structures and habits don’t give you time to get mired in the terror of the blinking cursor on the blank page. You sit down and start writing because it’s just what you do.
One of the biggest and most persistent myths about writing is that productive writers write in total isolation. Many of us learned that great writers sequester themselves and produce mind-blowing prose in complete solitude. A lot of us have probably tried writing like this and found that no matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t get writing done. Writing in isolation is hard because writing is often a surprisingly intense encounter between you, your thoughts, and an empty page. You might sit down to write and suddenly find yourself terrified and absolutely convinced that you’ll never be good enough to write anything that anyone would actually read. The intensity of the writing experience sometimes overwhelms people because most people can’t stand feeling that much fear and shame at once. Faced with a potential tsunami of awful feelings while writing, most people (quite understandably) would rather not do it.
Writing in community makes writing social and take away much of the frustration, fear, and shame people feel when they write.
To make writing social, I host #ShutUpandWrite on Twitter every Tuesday at 11am EST. Not only does #ShutUpandWrite create structure for people, but it also gives writers some accountability and community support. #ShutUpandWrite now has regular writers who show up every week to get writing done with me. I’ve really loved seeing the community grow and getting to know people. We check in, say hi, and then write. After we’re done, we check in again and talk about what people accomplished. And I cheer for everyone! I love cheering people on and helping to make writing more fun and social for people rather than a chore. #ShutUpandWrite gives people just enough structure and community to be productive writers. #ShutupandWrite is the tiniest little piece of magic I do, but it gives people a mini-writing retreat every week. For free! And lest you doubt the power of an hour a week of structured writing in community, people have finished writing entire articles and chapters because of #ShutUpandWrite. No kidding.
Inspired: Dedicated time, structure, and community.
And now’s the part where I do some absolutely shameless self-promotion and tell you that Inspired, my online writing retreat, gets people huge results because it brings together all of the elements that make for a productive writing experience. When you join Inspired, you’re committing to your own creative ventures and showing the entire world that you and your writing matter. You’re making a commitment to yourself. You also get the structure I’ve made for you. Based on feedback from previous Inspired sessions, I’ve tweaked the schedule to give you some nice long (but not too long) writing blocks in the morning and some shorter ones in the afternoon when most people start fading a bit. And because this is my writing retreat and I believe food is vital to the creative process, I always make sure to schedule time for snack and lunch.
YOU get to do the community support part. You and your fellow writers make up a virtual community in which you get to talk about your writing as much as you want. What might you say about your writing? You might talk about what’s standing in your way, what you’re struggling with, what you hope to accomplish with your writing time, victories and successes that you’ve had, or ideas you’re trying to make come to life. You can ask the community for the specific help or support you need. And you’ll get a whole lot of cheering and encouragement to keep writing and moving forward. We’re all in this together. [Conversations about snacks and playlists are also always encouraged!]
And this stuff works. The last few times I’ve run this retreat, people have made unbelievable progress on their projects. People have finished chapters, written entire conference papers, worked through tricky theoretical problems they’d been avoiding, tackled research they’d successfully avoided for months, and made amazing breakthroughs at the eleventh hour.
Are you ready for this? A lot of people have told me that Inspired not only helped them get writing done, but that they had fun doing it.
Ready to get Inspired?
Hey, me too! Come join me and get some serious writing done on July 14, 2018, starting at 11am EST! For $47, you get an entire day of writing support, including a structure that works, dedicated time, community, and some coaching and a bunch of cheering from me!
Register and save your seat here: