by Korina Moss
Over Christmas break, I took my teenage son on a cruise. The vacation was the first real travel we’d done in two years. Don’t let the fact that I used the words break, vacation, or travel fool you into thinking I didn’t work while I was away. I still have a crazy spring coming up that includes the release of Cheddar Off Dead, my first Cheese Shop mystery, and a deadline to finish writing the third book in the series.
|On the balcony|
|Writing from my car (Oct)|
Before the cruise, having fun had become a fuzzy memory since the pandemic. I’d gotten used to focusing almost solely on work, but when I’m feeling too much pressure and stress, I experience writer’s block. The best trick I’ve used to combat it is to get a fresh perspective by changing my view, literally. I can do it by simply working in a different room or taking a walk. I’ll even drive somewhere and sit in my car to write. But my favorite safe way to do it is with a solo retreat.
Here’s a checklist of what makes up my perfect solo writing retreat:
My own space. No coordinated writers’ retreats for me. I can’t have anyone else around—I’m too social. I also need the freedom to wake, sleep, and write when I want, brainstorm ideas aloud, make faces when I’m trying to come up with the right way to describe an emotion, have music or silence, and most importantly, go bra-less.
No internet or TV. I have no willpower—social media will beckon me. I need to allow my brain to get quiet for longer than five minutes without picking up my phone. When I do this, the best ideas germinate, and creative sparks ignite.
|Tiny house in the Catskills|
Everything at my fingertips. Some of my fellow moms check into a hotel for uninterrupted writing time and treat themselves to a nice restaurant for dinner. I prefer to be in a vacuum. Since my retreats are generally only a few days long, I prepare my dinners ahead of time, so I don’t have to be interrupted with cooking. I bring plenty of easy food, snacks, and Coke Zero. Bonus: No restaurant, no bra.
Walks in nature. As I said, I like my retreats to be solo, but even I get stir crazy. I like to have a nice place to walk, breathe in the fresh air, and get rejuvenated for more writing.
A pretty view. I’ve found this to be the most essential factor. I need something beautiful to stare at while my mind is in motion. Even though I have a nice view at home overlooking the woods, sometimes a total change of scenery is what I need. I prefer a view that feels open rather than closed in, which is why I love the water. An open space seems to unlock any constriction I may be feeling, unleashing my creativity, as well.
|AirBnB in upstate NY|
Of course, going on solo retreats isn’t always feasible. But any time I can get away from home, I carve out some quiet time to let my imagination roam free with no pressures, no restrictions, and no routine. Just give me a good view to summon my muse.
Have you ever treated yourself to a solo retreat (even if it’s not writing-related)? What’s on your checklist?