Dear Writer-Friends,

I've been self-publishing since 2011, and I've shared the knowledge I've gained in two books: the Indie Author Survival Guide, Second Edition, and For Love or Money. I'm not an indie rockstar or a breakout success: I'm one of thousands of solidly midlist indie authors making a living with their works. These books are my way of helping my fellow authors discover the freedom of indie publishing. Write on, writer-friends!

S.K. Quinn, Independent Author of Science Fiction

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Ch 6.6 Give Yourself A Creative Retreat

  
(This is an excerpt from my Indie Author Survival Guide, available on Kindle and Nook.)

Ch 6.6 Give Yourself A Creative Retreat
Once I actively looked for ways to boost my creativity (see Training Your Intuition), I found lots of opportunities, but few that really fit my needs. Often conferences are aimed at beginning writers. Retreats with just me and my writer buddies are fun, but often end up with champagne popped and drunken references to "Vonnegut in the 80's!" that no one remembers what they meant, but they were pure brilliance at the time (I'm looking at you LT Moore).

Ahem.

I wanted to gather some of the great brains I knew into one place for a Creativity Retreat, but my great-brained-friends were scattered all over the globe. So, we had to deploy some technology, but we bent Google+ Hangouts to our will and made it happen.

It exceeded my expectations, which were high to begin with, given I was meeting with people who were treasured critique partners, outstanding writers, and friends I've known for years, one very nearly since I first put fingers to keyboard (blowing kisses to Dianne Salerni, Adam Heine, and Rebecca J. Carlson).

The Idea Was Simple
Gather online to amp up our creativity. This was not a time to talk about the industry, or publishing, or critique a particular manuscript. It was a chance to pick the brilliant minds of our fellow authors for help in identifying our creative "veins of gold" and tackling our worst writing problems. And cross-pollinate by simply bending our minds to a common task.

It. Was. Awesome.

The Execution Was Even Better
We made up our own agenda. I organized, polling each person to see what they were looking for up front and directing some of the activities, but mostly we self-directed during the retreat. We also exchanged a chapter and introductions before-hand, just to get a feel for each other's work (I had read everyone, but they were new to each other).

FIRST HOUR: "Vein of Gold" activity. (I discovered this exercise in a workshop given by the amazing Kat Falls, author of Dark Life, who I later found learned it from Julia Cameron who wrote The Artist's Way). The idea: Bring a list of 5-10 books or films in the genre of our current WiP that we loved, or that really moved us. Figure out what these stories have in common. Ponder how we can enhance those commonalities in our current work. Whatever we love about these works, that is our "vein of gold" creatively speaking. We should be mining those "vein-of-gold" areas for our best work.

SECOND HOUR: Discussion: what is your most vexing writing problem at the moment? Each member brought a problem and the group discussed it, making suggestions, brainstorming how to tackle it. Some were specific to a craft issue, others were broadly related to a current WiP obstacle.

THIRD HOUR: Go where the pain is; go where the pleasure is. - Anne Rice What stories are you dying to write? What stories are you afraid to write? Why? We didn't get through all four of us with this one, because of time, but this was the most personally helpful of the discussions for me. Fear is always my personal demon (see Fear and the Creative Worker). I'm always fighting it to move forward. Having face-to-face discussions with my fellow (incredibly talented and helpful) writers about my fears in writing a certain upcoming story? Incredibly valuable.

I encourage you give yourself the gift of a Creative Retreat. Design your own, fit it to meet your needs, and find the right people. It was well worth the time invested.

  
(This is an excerpt from my Indie Author Survival Guide, available on Kindle and Nook.)

1 comment:

  1. This is such a great idea, I tend to like to meet with people in person, but, like you said, sometimes that is not an option.

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