20 Jun

As the weekend of the annual Coeur du Bois retreat approaches, it makes me think about how important those few days of the year are to my writing process. I can’t think of anything that stimulates my creativity more than secluding myself in a cabin with other writers. It’s an entire weekend filled with eating, going for walks, talking shop and working on my manuscript. If you’ve never done it before then I highly recommend it. I accomplished more writing at last year’s retreat than I did the entire rest of the year.

Unfortunately, I can’t write a whole book in one weekend. Just as the retreat creates the perfect writing environment for me, my house has the opposite effect on my productivity. My characters refuse to show their faces in my home. I think my children’s squeals of glee terrify them. Even if I’m home alone, which almost never happens, there are numerous other things that bombard my mind. I’ll sit at the table with my hands poised over the keyboard ready to type. As I tilt my head to the side pondering the next point in my story, my eyes fall upon the small spaghetti sauce handprint on the wall. I immediately become fixated as I find that I can’t possibly write another word unless I clean it off first. It’s important to note that this particular smudge has been there for six months already and has only now passed my tolerance limit. This is just one example but you get the idea.

So, instead I must find other places where I can create my own small cabin-esque environment. Coffee shops, books stores and libraries work for me too. I’ve even sat in my car in a parking lot just to get some writing done.

When and where are you the most productive?


Posted by on June 20, 2013 in Idaho


17 responses to “Writecation

  1. stephanieberget

    June 20, 2013 at 6:33 AM

    That darn housekeeping. I spent most of my life avoiding it, but let me sit down to write and I find tons of stuff I have to do right that minute. As for writing, any place quiet is good. See you later.

    • Jennifer

      June 20, 2013 at 8:21 AM

      Housekeeping is totally overrated. See you soon 🙂

  2. Lynn Mapp

    June 20, 2013 at 7:45 AM

    Hey, I too am getting ready to travel to the retreat. No, I may not be possible to write an entire book, but I’m going to work to get one close to complete. Let’s use those Power Hours! I’ll see you there.

    • Jennifer

      June 20, 2013 at 8:24 AM

      Hooray for Power Hours!

  3. Judith Keim

    June 20, 2013 at 7:46 AM

    It’s hard to give yourself permission to write at home when other things distract you but I think of writing time as going to work. Even if it’s for a short time, it is one of my jobs. The other trick is to plot wherever you are–sitting in a line of cars waiting to pick up kids, etc. So glad you have the opportunity to go to the retreat! Have fun and happy writing!!

  4. Jennifer

    June 20, 2013 at 8:27 AM

    Thanks Judy. You’re right. You have to take advantage of any opportunity to plot, etc. Thinking of it as a job is good advice too.

  5. MK Hutchins (@mkhutchins)

    June 20, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    This made me smile. I’m so used to working in short bursts of time that when I was left home alone for an evening, I kept looking around…wondering when someone was going to interrupt me. Not my best writing time. 🙂

    I hope you have a great time at the retreat!

    • Jennifer

      June 23, 2013 at 8:48 PM

      Thanks MK! I’m glad it made you smile 🙂

  6. Peggy Staggs

    June 20, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    A change of place is one of the best stimulants ever. I tend to write a lot more if I go to a coffee shop or on vacation.

    • Jennifer

      June 23, 2013 at 8:49 PM

      It really is a great stimulant. There’s nothing like a change in atmosphere to get those creative juices flowing.

  7. Corina Mallory

    June 20, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    When I was in law school studying for exams I found that I was much more productive if I got up and moved every few hours to a new venue, from apartment to coffee shop to library to second coffee shop to third coffee shop and then back to my apartment. That was the only way I could get a full day of studying done. If I tried to force myself to work in one place for a full day I’d go absolutely bonkers. I think I need to try the same thing with writing. I agree with Peggy. Changes of place are stimulating. That said, the retreat was a fantastic venue for me last year and I’m hoping to kickstart myself again this year!

    • Jennifer

      June 23, 2013 at 8:51 PM

      That’s interesting Corina. I never thought of changing venues a couple of times but it makes sense. I may have to try that sometime.

  8. thereisfireinthewell

    June 21, 2013 at 3:53 AM

    I also find writing away from home to be best. The problem with bookstores and libraries is I start browsing the books. Though sometimes seeing all the books that other writers have written produces creative envy and has me typing away again. Typing on the train if I have a seat works, but I feel self conscious if someone is sitting next to me, so there is a battle between reading and writing on the train. Reading is so much easier, especially if the train is crowded and I can’t find a comfortable seat. As for vacation, Peggy, I tend to to do a lot of fragment writing in response to what’s going on around me. I did this when I visited Boston, LA, and Chicago. Chicago was my favorite writing excursion vacation. For a writing project, I am still considering writing retreats. Fiction writing classes and my Sunday Writing (in person) group is also helpful, The writing group is really a blessing, even though we do writing exercises to prompts, rather than project writing. Hmm… Maybe I can get the group to alternate exercises and projects by week.
    Thanks for the post, Jenn. It has me thinking.

    • Jennifer

      June 23, 2013 at 8:55 PM

      Thanks for reading my blog! That’s a good point. Bookstores can be very distracting to us book lovers 🙂

  9. Janis

    June 23, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    I write better away from home as well. Fewer distractions, to be sure.

  10. Jennifer

    June 23, 2013 at 8:56 PM

    Yes, the inbox is always full at home.

  11. maryvine

    June 24, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    I smiled when I read about your characters not showing themselves at home. I do best on a NEW/100 because I have to write my number down and post it-held accountable. I also do well in the summers at our NE Oregon property. But then, I have had successful writing times at home too. I suppose it depends on where I am in the story and what the story is about that keeps me going. Personally, I think that I can be distracted in coffee shops, or busy places.


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