How I write, Part 2: Getting Away

Shameless plug! DIY Chick Lit is free this weekend on Amazon—get yours now (and tell all your wannabe-chick-lit-writer friends).

Everyone loves to get away, and it’s something writers dream of. But like I wrote in DIY Writing Retreat, you don’t need a bunch of money or time to get away. “Getting away” just means changing your scenery, and there are ways to do that every day, if you want to.

Here are some reasons I need to get away:

  • I have to write a brand-new pitch letter and I really don’t want to.
  • I have to revise something, and I really, really don’t want to.
  • I want to research something.
  • I want to get some new ideas—I’m feeling bored with what I’m working on, and it needs some facts/background/new ideas to make it more interesting.
  • I can’t make myself write anymore, but I want to get something
  • I haven’t left my house in a few days and I’m starting to feel like a hermit.Getting Away - Alicia de los Reyes

And here are some ways I get away:

When I don’t want to do something, I go somewhere totally new and random. My personal favorite is a library in a different town. Thanks to the Rollinsford Library, I revised my thesis. In a new town, there’s very little chance you’ll run into anyone you know, so you don’t have to explain yourself or worry about distraction. It’s fun to be in a new place, and a library doesn’t require you to interact with anyone. You can put on your headphones, open up your laptop, and be “that” guy/gal.

Going somewhere different somehow makes it clear that this task is a departure and not what I have to do every single day for the rest of my life. When I’m done, I can go home. So that means that I will, at some point, be done.

When I need to research something, I try to go to an actual physical place related to what I’m doing. Maybe that’s a library (I’m lucky to be able to go to the gorgeous downtown Seattle library, which has almost every book anyone could ever want). Maybe it’s a setting related to a story I’m writing: a dock, a baseball field. Maybe it’s a place where people who I’m writing about hang out, and I try to interview them (for me, that’s usually a church).

The Internet is vast, but people are deep. They will give you much more information than you can get from the most well-researched article; they can point you to other people, give you the real story, make you consider your story from a viewpoint you hadn’t thought of. Getting out and talking to people is scary, but people love talking about their experiences. So don’t be a hermit. Sometimes I give myself a reward for being brave and asking a stranger questions (a latte with a crazy amount of sugar in it).

When I want to get new ideas, or I’m just feeling kind of bored with whatever I’m working on, I go to a museum or a new place. I go with Andrew on a day trip to a new town and we explore all the local stuff there is to see there: cafes, shops, local history museums. Travel, even to someplace an hour away, wakes up my brain and makes me feel like the world is a big, interesting place. Because it is.

When I can’t make myself write anymore but I really want to feel like I finished something, I go to a coffee shop, even just for 45 minutes, and bang out a draft of something. I either set myself a bite-size task (“just write one blog post”) or I free write for a while. Sometimes I get ideas, sometimes not, but it’s all practice. Not every day is going to be a stellar writing experience.

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I have the luxury of having mornings and early afternoons to myself, the trade-off of working in the evenings. If you work a regular job, you might try going somewhere new after work: a new bar or coffee shop where you can sit and write for a bit before you go home, or the library in a different town. If you have kids or home duties, try thinking of it as taking a class or joining a book group, and trade your buddy for another free night. If that’s not possible, you might try joining a writing group; then, at least occasionally, you can host it at your house. It’s not a new setting, per se, but it will shake up how you think of your house (I certainly like my living room a lot more when it’s clean and filled with snacks and friends).

If you tend to be a homebody, I can’t recommend a writing group enough. Even if everyone else in the group is a terrible writer who gives awful feedback, you will have talked to other people about being a writer. You will have said “I usually write X.” A writing group affirms that you’re a writer, which is always a good feeling. I’ve rarely left a writing group feeling anything but inspired and happy about writing. Contrast that with how I feel after trying to make myself revise something alone in my house…

Getting away can be tricky, but it’s worth it.

If you’d like some more motivation and ways to get away for a retreat, check out DIY Writing Retreat. It includes a schedule for what to do every hour of a day- or weekend-long getaway, and even includes a shopping list and recipes, so you can focus on just writing. I’m also creating an e-course based on this retreat that includes worksheets and email-lessons tohelp you actually take a retreat. If you’re interested in test-driving it, you can sign up here.

 

 

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Hello, Write Life readers! + a giveaway

EDIT: Giveaway won! Thanks for signing up, everybody!

I wrote an article about why and how to take a DIY writing retreat over on The Write Life (welcome, Write Life readers!). To celebrate, I’m running a little giveaway.

If you’d like to be entered to win a free PDF of DIY Writing Retreat, just sign up for my newsletter here–I’ll pick a winner on Friday, Nov. 21.

And in case you lost it, you can find DIY Writing Retreat as a PDF here and on Amazon.

Everyone’s invited to the giveaway, of course! Just sign up for my newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/4tnAr.

 

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DIY Writing Retreat for sale

Hi everyone, thanks for playing along with me during the launch of DIY Writing Retreat. It’s now officially for sale right here and on Amazon for $4.99. If you’re looking for a guide that will give you a schedule, writing prompts, ideas for ways to unwind, and even recipes to take a weekend away, then grab a copy for yourself! It’s less expensive than a residency application, not to mention a lot less time-consuming!

Back to our regularly scheduled programming next week! I’m working on a post about how I’ve started getting “involved” at Valley and Mountain.

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Get DIY Writing Retreat free

Yay! It’s here!-Cover

I got the idea to write a guide to running your own writing retreat after I realized that I had run my own writing retreat after I graduated from my MFA program. It was super fun to write–it has tables and lists and recipes! But, alas, the formatting and the glyph-designing and the editing (once again, mil gracias to my BFF Kel and KMR Publishing!) took a while. And then there was summer camp. So, I came up with this idea back in…April? And it is now (finally!) ready for your perusal.

Here’s what DIY Writing Retreat is:

  • A guide to running your own personal retreat to write for one weekend.
  • A schedule (down to the minute) with when to write, eat, relax, and write some more.
  • Motivational writing that will get YOU writing.
  • Lots of writing prompts (if you don’t know what to write) and ideas for how to make a writing goal (if you do).
  • Easy recipes and a shopping list so that you don’t have to think about eating.
  • Ideas for adventures to take in between writing sessions.
  • Instructions for fun unwinding activities, like how to make a God’s eye, for you to do in the evenings.

And it works–following this schedule for three weeks, I wrote all of the text for DIY Chick Lit. Yes, all of it!

DIY Writing Retreat is going to be available here and on Amazon starting Oct. 3. If you’d like to download it RIGHT NOW, great news, you can! Sign up here and I will send you a link to get the guide for free. You’ll also get my monthly updates AKA ezine “Greetings from Bookland” where I share all of my deepest darkest secrets and occasionally a recipe for cupcakes.

So, to recap, you can sign up here to get updates from me, and then I will send you a link to download DIY Writing Retreat.

Thanks, friends!

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