Retreats and Mentoring in Writing Part 5 of 15

Hello, and welcome to the new people who have come to this blog, jump in and comment. This pat 5 of 15, so plenty of comments are needed. Yesterday I had a guest blogger so check out Carrie’s comments about prompts and writing.

I must admit that for me a retreat is a welcome idea, in theory of course. I’d possible hole myself up in a locked room and avoid all contact with the outside world for days, okay maybe to order in so I don’t have to cook, but still.

The idea of a retreat is appealing since it allows one to do exactly what they’ve been intending to do all along, write that novel or book. When I say write I mean write. Not checking email, not blogging, not anything just you and a pen and paper, or a computer (with no Internet… say windows 98 and it Microsoft office or some old version of computer thereof… that should do it!) In a way that will force the issue of procrastination from all thoughts because face it, all of us procrastinate more than what we would admit to.

My biggest procrastination is going to a writing class or a retreat. I have children under the age of five. I can’t write when it’s so structured. I can’t write when it’s not. I could go on, but the simple fact is that I’m fearful of the outcome. You know the one, the actual I finished an entire two novels, but oh really? that’s great but when I was there I was sooo productive I finished three. Pride I suppose, we all want to be the best. But that’s not what a retreat is for, you do your best work for yourself there.

The other one is the fear that if I critique, I’ll be hurting some people. I suspect I’m not as thick skinned as I should be. Bear in mind though I’ve got a pretty thick skin, just ask me to show you all my rejection skips for the short stories I wrote! The file, I think is about 3 inches thick, and it goes back about 7 years…

By the same token critiques and retreats are vital, since without one of my classes, my writing would remain in the duh zone, where I would be wondering why that author published and I wasn’t. One of the critiques pointed out that I had a strong urge to write novel short stories. read it twice I had to. One of them pointed out think plane and balloon, got it now?

I simply needed to look at what the majority of people were saying. I also looked back at the rejection pile, and noticed something, the last few ones, have written comments on them, advice from editors. I think that came from being in a writing class and retreating into my writing. I needed the time to write and the place to write and the people who wanted me to do my best.

My question for today is this: when you write and have let others read do you take all advice or glean from it what is most important and why?


  • AmberInGlass

    I can really relate to the whole procrastination thing. It has been hitting me really hard as of late. It is almost a downward spiral. You start making excuses and you start falling and it is easier to continue procrastinating than it is to start climbing back up. And if depression hits because you aren't doing what you want to because you are too busy making excuses; well then it is all the harder.

    It is really hard to be objective with critiques no matter how tough your skin is. There are times when someone might tell you the only way to get published is to change a character or even cut out an entire character or section from the story. As the author it is hard to change our baby like that.

    I think for myself I really try to just get the most important parts out of the advice given me on my work, but that alone is really hard to do and I have not found a fail proof method for it.

    Somehow I feel like I've written alot without saying anything, but when it comes to advice on your own work, I really think it should be considered on a case by case basis. You have to take into account what they are telling you to do and you have to decide for yourself how much of your baby you are willing to give. Someone might not have any problem removing an entire character from their piece, and all the plotlines that go with it. Others, however, may draw the line on that feeling like it really sacrifices too much from what they intended.

    The good news is, there are alot of markets out there, and one person's idea of a good read is not the same as anothers. It really comes down to a matter of persistance.

  • jenniferneri

    Great question! I have to say that it really depends on who is doing the critique. Some people are just right on the mark, every time. Others, well, I take it all with a grain of salt.
    I also have two five and under, and wow – time to write is challenging! I find that I cannot write for extended time anymore, I do it in spurts. They have me well trained. LOL

  • Marnie Elizabeth

    RE: Retreats
    Is it hard to be inspired when you're on a retreat? I'd be afraid that without my daily life I'd be at a loss for things to write about. But who knows, maybe without all the useless chatter going on, my writing voice would get some real attention and get stuff done. It gets so distracted!

    RE: Critiques
    My roommate texts/calls/emails me every time she sees a grammatical error. I cannot tell you how thankful I am!

    I have a pretty thick skin and would like to have critiques, but I feel a little bit self-absorbed asking someone to do that for me. A professor gave me a B on a research critique this semester. But she gets the definitions of sympathy and empathy confused. Ha! I didn't listen to her advice so much. But I digress…..

  • dubuas

    I have procrastinated myself into a corner. I always told myself that I was meant to be a writer, studied to be a writer, then quit school to become an air traffic controller in 1981 (forgot all about creativity during those years)! After retiring in 2007, I finally had time to write, but I've been lost as the proverbial goose, not to mention listless and depressed. Last spring, I got a letter inviting me to submit a sample to Brown U for consideration for attendance at their Summer Writers' Symposium, and, I was stunned when they actually invited me to attend. Whether it was subconscious sabatoge or not, I broke my foot a week later, had surgery & couldn't go. They've invited me again, and I'm down to the deadline & can't find a fresh thing to write about. I tried all night. Am I afraid that they'll say "no" this time? Or, am I afraid that they'll say "yes", I'll get there & they'll say, "sorry, you aren't who we thought you were". I think I may be sick.

  • Rebecca

    I think that in life all of us procratinate to an extent. my only hope is that I can rewrite some more edited things… I'm not sure how much I want to do. But I need to do it.

    Simple right? Not so.