Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Rushing Around to Relax

Next week is a beach week - Edisto Beach, South Carolina. Once or twice a year, we get away from responsibilities, travel three  hours to the coast, and kick back in a brightly painted, screen porched (for mosquitoes), simply furnished vacation home that belongs to a generous friend of ours. Internet is skimpy, so when I find a signal, I rush through emails for anything urgent and put everything else on the back burner. When I'm not walking along the surf, eating seafood or sharing a drink with hubby, I'm writing on the novels. Nothing to do but what I want to do.

However . . .

For the two weeks before I go, I run around like a crazy woman putting affairs in order. I have to blog ahead of time, write editorials, finalize markets for the newsletters, and prepare the website. I pay the bills ahead  (remember, no easy online access at the beach). I clean out the chicken coops, leave enough food and water, and arrange for the eggs to be collected. I put the garden on an automatic timer (I'm putting seeds in a nursery bed this week to be prepared for April). Then there's stopping the mail, checking what's left in the refrigerator, and planning what food to prepare and take with us.

I get exhausted trying to relax!

But I make myself do it. Once I'm at the beach, all stress falls away. I'm forced to slow down, think, scheme, and write. And oh how much I accomplish!

In the past, I've actually grabbed one of my adult children and assigned him the job of taking care of the home place. All I did was pack up my writing paraphanalia and take off - no stockpile of food other than the necessary popcorn, a couple dozen eggs (hey, they're free), bourbon and tea bags. I packed one small bag and wore the same shorts, pants and t-shirts. I drafted six chapters, edited several others, and felt so satisfied by week's end.

I feel it's necessary for a writer to get away. Plan a month ahead or take a spur-of-the-moment dash, but escape to Nirvana. And do it for more than one day. Yes, pass the kids off to someone else. Yes, use your vacation time for just you and not for Disney World. Yes, carry a writing partner, if you like. I take my spouse who's quiet as a mouse unless I need him. He lights up a cigar and pours a bourbon when it's time for me to read the latest chapter - more for me to hear my own mistakes than for his feedback, but it works.

Get away, people. For more than one day, too. It takes a few days into a week for you to completely shed the burdens and awaken each morning to just your writing. Avoid electronics as much as possible. The point is not to fall back into your regular routine.
  • Swap houses with someone.
  • Rent a cabin in the mountains or a beach house - just make it serene.
  • Check out your National or State Park system for cheap or free get-aways. They have specials as well as yearly memberships.
Still scratching your head about where to go? Can't afford to do so or don't have any options? Then do this. Shut off the electronics for a week. Send away kids and family who might not cooperate with your personal retreat, or at least design new rules for the week, putting yourself off limits. Disrupt your daily rut and enjoy new freedom -for one week.

One week once a year. I suggest twice a year, if possible. This rejuvenating, self-enrichment period of time will draw serious creativity to the surface. I promise. And planning for it like a wild person for one or two weeks beforehand will be SO worth it.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Hope---It only happens once a year, and it's only for a weekend (we get there Friday evening and leave on Sunday afternoon) but I go to a writing retreat at an abbey (I prefer to call it a monkery). No TV. No telephones. The room you have (to yourself) is sparsely furnished, the food is simple, and the grounds...a lovely place to walk. So, there is nothing to do but write, write, write.


Laura M. Campbell said...

What a great idea. The idea of taking a road trip somewhere to write has been tugging on me lately. I'll have to check my state park system for something cheap. The woods are always very relaxing for me.

On a different topic...I'm a newbie gardner. I grew herbs, a pepper plant and a tomato plant last fall. When should I put everything back out for spring? Do you recommend any books or websites to help me?

Mary Ingmire said...

I love the getaway idea. This week we're housesitting and grandcat sitting for our daughter. Had some great brainstorming time. And we have a beach trip planned for April. If getting out of town isn't an option, how about a morning, afternoon, or entire day at the library? Libraries have big tables where you can spread your piles of paper.

Unknown said...

You're so right Hope. Nothing is more rewarding than working your tail off so you can have a lovely week of vacation!

Hope Clark said...

A lot depends on where you are. I have everything in the ground by April, and my seeds are started now in the garage. Planting depends on your last frost date and your USDA zone. Here is a chart to help you.
Good luck!


Jean said...

A week of isolation from day-to-day stuff.


Oh, no! It's only a dream.


BECKY said...

Oh, I need just that sooooo much!