The Power of Down Time

Last Thursday, I fucked off to a 4-day writing retreat with Sarah Bella. Four lovely days, holed up in a lux hotel, writing, talking writing, drinking coffee and wine at all hours, hitting my steps goals, reward-based shopping. NOT vomiting from stress. Divine, over and over again.

Because I fret over everything, and have a writers’ ability to concoct doom scenarios, and being in a particularly dulled-by-endless-winter mindset, I was convinced I’d be a total fail this session. I had goals for the retreat, but no idea how to go about accomplishing those goals.

My day job is in trucking, and since late January, it’s been non-stop chaos. Shitty roads, broke down trucks, accidents, stranded drivers, deathly cold, all the bad stuff and more. I haven’t had the time to do laundry or cook a decent meal more than once or twice a week, let alone write or think about writing or just get lost in what-ifs.

Not the head space to be hustling into a writing retreat. Thus the fretting over fail. What will I write, and omg it will suck even if I do think of anything because I haven’t thought about tone and mood and voice and word choice. If I write, I’ll just end up deleting later.
While I suppose Sarah Bella’s willingness to listen and an early-early Thursday morning start to day-drinking helped, I am going to take all the credit for my retreat success. Reader, it was BANG UP. I wrote piles of words.

I think, because, I got to swan dive into my stories. Immersion. Isolation. Time to think, to day dream, to lose a little bit of the stress that normally accompanies my writing sessions— you only have these 30 minutes to write, make. It. Good.

When the stress or the fear got to me, I could take a deep breath and chill, or go for walks, or use my words at Sarah Bella. I had hours, instead of minutes. Luxurious. Conducive. Just what I needed.

I tried to take some of that home with me. Finding moments just to think, to imagine, to play with writing instead of going to the keyboard cold. Stoplights are my daydream location. I don’t use my phone while driving. Pill! And I’ve started to tuck away to-do lists and commute tasks (you can apply return address labels on 3 or 4 envelopes at a stoplight).

Of that feels like I’m pushing oughtas down the road in favor of the wannas. So I’m going to have to find the right mix. But, that’s life. Finding the tolerable mix.

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