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  • Writer's pictureJorie Kramer

Writers, Retreat!

Updated: May 14

Before the blog, I’d like to share that a couple of friends and I recently got together and created a podcast, Larimer County Snapshot News. Our goal is to share news and information from around Larimer County, and to help residents across the county connect. The hosts are myself, James Sims, and Adam Eggleston, who designed our lovely cover. Our guest for the first episode was author Laura Pritchett, who talks about her recently released novel, Playing with (wild)Fire. Listen to Snapshot News at https://www.fcpublicmedia.org/lcsnapshotnews/episode/1e75eff6/larimer-county-snapshot-news-may2024. We’re also on Spotify.

 




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Writers, Retreat! 

 

I’m starting a list of great opening lines from books. Here's my first: “In the Long Run, We’re All Dead.” It’s from, Four Thousand Weeks, Time Management for Mortals, by Oliver Burkeman.  That line made Mark and I laugh. The book promises a different goal than squeezing more work out of the time we’re given. We’ll see if it delivers.

 

I recently managed the gift of 58 hours of unstructured time. This gift was thanks to a writers retreat, sponsored by Writing Heights Writers Association. Those 58 heavenly hours allowed we writers time for whatever we needed for our art: solitude, community, or learning.

 

Would I be able to manage this incredible gift of time well?

 

I’ve been on lots of adult retreats, all spiritually based and tightly structured. This retreat, however, was my first where what I did was totally up to me. The organizers scheduled classes and social gatherings, but they were completely optional. I could hermit away in my room. Or, I could go to every scheduled event, and spend the remaining time hiking around the Rockies. Or, I could choose to do absolutely nothing and not be judged.

 

I set a few intentions for using my retreat time wisely. Number 1:  I would only write, and not go to classes or gatherings. 2. I wouldn’t hike. 3. I wouldn’t open any social media apps.

 

But, once I arrived and looked more closely at the schedule, I realized a few of the classes might help solve problems I have with my writing. So, I went to those. I also went to all of the social hours because some of my cohorts read from their works in progress. And, during the only sunny afternoon the never ending blizzard afforded us, I took a walk with snowcapped Mt. Meeker in the background. My soul lifted and my head cleared after that!

 

With all that, I never needed nor wanted social media time.

 




My wise time management paid off well. On the evening of the second day of the retreat, I noticed my word count wasn’t increasing significantly over what it usually is at home. At the same time, however, I realized I was writing differently. The words flowed more freely and more creatively.

 

Later that week, back at home, it dawned on me that a mystical sense of community had formed amongst my cohort. I had felt that mystical community on the spiritual retreats I’d been on. I hadn’t realized, though, that a similar community would form with my fellow writers, none of whom I knew before the retreat. I don’t want to sound too woo-woo, but I’m pretty sure it was being in community with other writers that amplified my creativity and elevated my work while I was on the retreat.

 

A quilters' guild was also meeting down the hall from our room. Their door was always open and I loved peeking in at them as I got in my hourly steps, which were absolutely necessary to keep my joints from freezing up. Their conference room was serenely quiet as each quilter sewed, or arranged fabric pieces into beautiful patterns on their wallboards. Just glimpsing them at work juiced my creativity even more. I’m sure they were amplifying each other’s creativity, as well.

 

My big takeaway from the retreat? Community is important - whether it’s a community based on a spiritual practice or on an art. Being in community with others nourishes and strengthens our practice on levels too deep to see with the naked eye.


Maybe it even elevates our time management skills.

 

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Have you ever been made to feel like the busier you are, the more worthy you are? I wrote an essay about busyness and self-worth, which ties into this whole time management thing. Read America Runs on Busyness, which is part of God, I'm a Jerk, on Kindle Vella, and let me know if this has ever happened to you. 

 

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Thanks for reading! Take care and let’s talk soon.

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