Photo by Lawton Cook on Unsplash
The last writing related post was about finding your groove, discovering your process and what works for me as a writer. (Let those creative juices flow, baby) One thing I didn’t mention was the magic of having a few days alone. This is especially important when my kid messy, half renovated house is filled with children, noise, gib dust and paint fumes most of the time, and there is little to no real-estate left in my brain.
Recently I was lucky enough to disappear into a private hideaway to spend four days writing. The first day, the change of scenery, packing, travel and set up etc killed my flow so I just focused on reading a friends ARC (advanced reader copy) and give some feedback. Who doesn't like relaxing in a warm caravan ALONE, with a beautiful book?
Day two began and I was writing by 7.30am, full of blissful excitement knowing I could write all day without distraction. By lunchtime I’d managed to write 6500 words and was only half way through the day!!
I was in the flow, and nothing was going to drag me out of it. Toilet breaks are seriously overrated - and at the same time, a necessary evil. The whole limping hike to the camp ground toilet and back, I was watching the movie in my head, having those conversations my characters had to have and itching to get back.
By 8pm, I'd written nearly 12,000 words and had the writer shakes. Having not eaten anything since 7am other than a few nuts and crackers, and riding a caffeine high, I drove to pick my friend up from town and hunted down something to eat – I needed carbs...and maybe even chocolate!
Day three, I was up bright and early, leaving Fi to sleep resulting in another 6,500 words before lunch, actually if I am honest...before breakfast. Then my lovely friend convinced me to go for a walk for some fresh air and to stretch my neglected body. We had some brunch and an hour later I sat down to write again. It wasn’t long before I realised normal behaviours such as walking, eating, and breathing fresh air had broken me.
The rest of the day was a struggle, I just wanted to lie down and take a nap. When I began to feel as though I was having to drag words out of me kicking and screaming, I gave up! Having only written 8500 for the day, 1500 shy of my goal, I shut down the computer and relaxed with my friend joking about how her good intentions had ruined me! It was one of those...Just kidding...no seriously...ha ha you did...nah just kidding... moments. Luckily she knows I love her despite her murderous tendencies (for my mojo that is).
The next day I decided to do it my way, coffee and starvation was the key. Yes! I am weird. As long as I feed my brain occasionally with some brain food (nuts and the like), I can go until the shakes start. I can pull this off for a few days, but it is no way to live for much longer than that. My husband is always telling me to ‘just go for a quick walk, it will help, or have you eaten?’ to which I normally respond, ‘Don't interfere with my process babe...I’m in a scene.’
Little did he know his suggestion was potentially a torrential downpour on my raging fire of creativity.
Well, Fi went for her walk, to get coffee and fresh air. She leisurely had breakfast and munched on Whittaker's chocolate – yum. While I ignored her (other than brief laughter breaks) and tapped on the keyboard all day. I hit my goal of 10,000, crossing over 30,000 words for the three days writing which felt amazing! And I did it my way – cue Frank Sinatra.
Never mind that when the writer shakes hit I wasn’t able to drive back home to Wellington. I had Fi - bless her cotton socks - well actually probably Merino socks 'cause she's a cold fish...but I digress. Then I ate a burger and fries to stave off starvation, instead of my pre-prepared and normal salad and protein. This last day I was so focused I didn’t even stop for breakfast. Again – I am weird, best not to emulate me.
This weekend, while a raging success book wise, it was a good lesson. What works for one person may not work for others. I wrote more than I have ever written, locked in a caravan, with artificial light, limited fresh air, little food and water, and lots of coffee…who knew that would be the perfect environment for creativity!
Again...this probably will not be published in the 'how to' manual for writers of 2017... but you should try it one day. Maybe not the starvation/de-hydration caffeine high part but the escaping to a private hideaway part - now that is worth doing.