Usually, the first week of November finds me on a beach in South Carolina with 10-12 other writers, enjoying a writers' retreat. For 2020, even before the pandemic hit, we were nervous about being in the United States during what was expected to be a highly polarizing election. With Corona, it became a non-decision: any thought of the trip was cancelled.
Writing retreats are one of the ways I keep up my writing progress through the year. I've got a lot of responsibilities at home, plus a full time job, so my writing time is pretty minimal. In a typical year, I can manage 4000-6000 words per week, but on a writing retreat, I can often do 20 000 to 25 000 words, which is a major jump forward. Being able to just concentrate on my writing, plus the fun, energy-boost of being around some amazing and entertaining folk turns on the creative flow at full volume. (The relative warmth and sunshine helps too, energizing my inner lizard from winter sleep to summer productivity.)
I really miss having that break this year.
|Pictured: not this November|
However, I have a bunch of unclaimed time-for-time through my day job, so I decided to try an at-home writing retreat. I've been managing about 1000-1500 words per week since the kids went back to school in September. For my writing retreat, I did about 8000 words, which puts me within a chapter or two of finishing my WIP. (For those looking for perspective, a 300 page book is about 90 000 words, and my books tend to be 100 000 to 130 000 words.)
It's hard not to compare what I usually do on a writing retreat with what I was able to do this time. Usually I write for about 5-7 hours throughout the day. For this week, I wrote for 2-4 hours. I am very aware that my energy levels are still quite fragile and that I needed to be able to preserve enough to function as a parent during the evening.
I'm glad I took the time. It felt good to be able to concentrate on my writing. I've had to switch my writing time from the afternoon (when I was traditionally able to do 1500-2500 words in 90 minutes) to the morning (where I'm only able to do 500-700 words in the same amount of time). Usually I have to turn off my computer when the words are just starting to flow and I can feel my brain starting to spark with ideas. For this week, I could keep going and it was a real pleasure.
Going back to the regular routine is hard, but its necessary. I do like my day job and the people I work with, but it's not my heart's calling. I keep hoping that someday I'll make enough money with selling stories to support myself and my family. That would be one of my happily ever afters.