Often times writers push themselves to the limit then wonder why they suffer from anxiety and doubts. When we push ourselves to the point of exhaustion, the well runs dry. We end up plowing our way through metaphorical bramble. Or we trudge across a creative desert thirsting for that first inspired sentence to a best-selling novel or a Pulitzer Prize winning news article.
When I mention retreat I’m not talking about indulging in procrastination. I’m not even talking about attending a writer’s retreat since that often involves workshops and master writing sessions. I’m talking about taking the phone off the hook, disengaging from the world and not thinking about writing at all. Often inspiration comes when we’re washing the dishes, walking the dog, or hiking in nature.
For writers who have been putting in their time everyday, take a vacation for even as long as a week (if there isn’t a deadline to meet). Spend time with family members or friends. Go camping. Go to the beach or travel to place that could even inspire your current novel or your next one. I know that when I wrote Agnes and Yves, I longed to visit Paris and San Francisco. I even believe that I would have written a better novel if I could have grounded my body in those locations to pick up the sensory of my characters.
For those of you who crave structure in your life, do the Artist’s Way program or the parts that don’t feel like drudgery. That would include the artist’s date and the daily walks as well as, the morning pages. But if you want to completely free yourself from the task of writing for a week, skip the morning pages. Although if you use those pages to delve into any subconscious blocks, they prove fruitful, thus releasing you from an emotional desert.
For anyone who feels miserable with the writing process in general, reassess whether or not you truly want to write. Often times people go into writing because a teacher or parent encouraged them to write, but they don’t actually enjoy writing. Some times people think that writing is the easiest art form or the most accessible and they indulge their creative spirit with writing. But we can engage in a myriad of creative endeavors that are more fulfilling, especially for gregarious social types. Face it, writing is a lonely process that isn’t suited for some personality types.
However, if you find yourself feeling refreshed and ready to jump into a writing project after a retreat, then stick to writing. I have been writing professionally since the age of 22 and I have trudged through many proverbial deserts in regard to writing. Yet, I stick with writing because I get more benefits from it than not. I love expressing myself through written words and I especially enjoy fleshing out characters that appear in my novels.
If you can ask yourself on a bad day what you would do with your life even if you didn’t earn money at it, and writing comes up, then this is your calling. However, if you don’t enjoy sitting your butt in a writer’s chair and staring at a computer screen for hours at a time, then perhaps a career in performing arts would appeal to you instead. I don’t believe in self-torture or high drama in which writers trot out their neurosis du jour. During this age of energy shifts and transformation, it’s important that each of us lives out our true destiny and not try to live up to some ideal projected on a movie screen (or to please our parents).
In the meantime, retreat from writing, and when the inspiration begins pouring through you, launch your next project with renewed energy.
I am an astrologer and intuitive coach that specializes in working with entrepreneurs and artists. Sign up at Whole Astrology for a session. I’ll start coaching sessions by Skype in late August. If you are an agent or editor interested in pursuing my short fiction or novels, please contact me at patriciacrowherlevi at gmail com