03 February 2011

The Getaway

At a certain point in my revision process, I was feeling stuck. I was at the very point in the endeavor where I was far enough in to feel overwhelmed, but not far enough in to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. What did I do? Well, I have a few tricks up my sleeve for getting unstuck, but one of my favorites is "the getaway."

This can take many forms. Most simply, I put the work to the side and distract myself with something else — checking email, poking around on etsy, blogging (how meta!), or making myself a snack. Or it can involve getting out of the house altogether, going for a walk around the block, or going to my neighborhood bakery for a latte and a croissant and some creative thinking time. Or, every once in a while, it can mean taking my writing with me, and changing the scenery altogether.

A few weeks back, I made a date for one of these mini-retreats with one of my writing buddies. Not everyone has the time or the opportunity or even the inclination to join a writing group, but I do think it helps to align yourself with at least one person with a similar goal, who makes you feel inspired. This particular WB had the inspiring idea of a field trip to the Redwood Library & Athenaeum in Newport (pictured above), a gorgeous, quiet space where we could get some writing done. Turns out, I managed to meet my three chapter revision quota, revised an extra chapter, did some useful journaling, and went back and noodled with an earlier scene — and my WB was able to relieve herself of a sticky revision problem. By putting ourselves in an elevated writing environment, my WB and I elevated our creative sensibilities. And by getting ourselves away from our normal surroundings, we gave ourselves a fresh sense of perspective.

And then, of course, we treated ourselves to a lovely celebratory lunch. Part of working hard is knowing when (and how often) to treat yourself right.

Do you allow yourself "getaway" time, with or without your writing?


  1. This post has me wanting to hop on a plane and head to the Redwood Library. It's funny how something as simple as a change of scenery can change our thought patterns.

    It may be because when you take a break you are often literally changing the frequency of your brain waves from "beta" waves (the most alert -- and sometimes agitated -- state of conscious thought) to "alpha" waves, which are much slower and enable us to access our subconscious more easily. Can you tell I have an interest in neuroscience?

    Thanks for the post. Looking forward to more in the "getting unstuck" series:-)

  2. From now on, when I find myself on etsy or watching reruns of The New Adventures of Old Christine, I will tell myself I'm giving my beta waves a break! : )

  3. There you go. And I'll keep telling myself that my current almost complete avoidance of beta waves is making more "creative."