Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Personal Retreat

Last February, a friend told me that writing poetry has helped her be a better prose writer. Writing poems has trained her to express her ideas more concisely and vividly. I was intrigued; I'm always looking for new ideas for improving my writing. I've rarely written poetry other than haiku, so I asked her for some recommendations for books on how to write a poem. I immediately ordered the instructional books as well as a book of African-American poetry a different friend had recommended. The books arrived; I put them in a pile separate from my other to-read piles; and . . . . nothing.

More-important writing projects, house repairs, trips, and life in general bumped poetry to the side. I looked at the pile of books longingly each time I walked by, sometimes picking a book up to look inside and smell the paper and ink.

Almost a year later, the pile still awaits. But now it awaits next to my suitcase. My husband will be taking a business trip to Denver this month, and I'm going along. I'll see some friends one day, but otherwise I'll be studying and reading and writing poetry.

And, of course, eating dark chocolate.

It will be like a writing retreat, except by myself. No workers to supervise; no phone calls to answer; no doctor appointments to go to; no meals to cook; no birds squawking next to an empty bird feeder—no distractions at all. I'll even skip exercising; it shouldn't be too harmful to go a few days without. Total poetry immersion.

I went on a personal retreat once before and was astounded how productive I could be when I wasn't being pulled in twenty directions at once. I came home from that retreat refreshed and eager to start writing the novel I had mapped out. I'm excited to try a personal retreat again with a project I've been looking forward to for so long.

Have you ever taken a personal writing retreat? How did you benefit (or why didn't you benefit)?

When I blog again at Novel Spaces on January 21, I'll let you know how my retreat went. In the meantime, I wish you many productive writing days.

—Shauna Roberts


Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds like fun. This is a great idea; I don't think I've ever really done it. I will now, though. I do like both writing and reading poetry, though the urge comes and goes.

soul healing Hawaii said...

sounds great.. I'll try this one if i got some time to rest. :)

Shauna Roberts said...

CHARLES, I think it should be lots of fun! What sort of project do you have that could benefit from concentrated time away?

SOUL HEALING HAWAII, getting the rest first is critical. Otherwise, it's too easy to spend the retreat catching up on sleep.

Jewel Amethyst said...

I really like the idea of a personal retreat. I need to do that some time soon.