A Creative Retreat to Start the Year
After finishing my draft I felt moody and a little depressed. I wasn't in the mood to do any of my usual planning for the new year and didn't feel like picking up any new projects. Fortunately a couple of my writer friends felt the same so we met up for a creative retreat to refuel.
Our goals were threefold - take stock, get inspired, and set intentions for the new year. The only other intention we set for the day was to nourish ourselves, physically, intellectually, and spiritually.
It ended up being exactly what we needed. If you find yourself stuck or in need of a boost I highly recommend doing something like this. Grab some friends if you can, but if you can't you can also do this solo. Here is the agenda for our day. You can always add or subtract, or move things around, depending on how much time you have and what your specific goals are.
A physical warm up. Something gentle. It doesn't need to be long or involved. Our routine looked like this.
-Stretch up to the ceiling, raising both arms. Reach first with one arm then the other. Repeat a couple of times.
-Roll down through your spine until your fingers or hands touch the floor. You can bend your knees if you have to. Gently shake your upper body, head, neck, arms, like a rag doll. Feel the stretch in your hamstrings. Breathe.
-When you are ready roll back up through your spine. then lie down on the floor. Bring your left knee up and cross the right over it into a 4 stretch, pulling the left knee towards you until you feel the stretch. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch legs.
-Lie on your back, feet flat on the floor. Imagine a string extending from the bottom of your pelvis up the length of your spine and out through the top of your head. Take deep breaths. Picture each breath traversing the length of that string, all the way down to the bottom of your pelvis and out the top of your head as your breathe in and out. Do this for 10 breaths.
-Roll over onto your side and push yourself up into sitting. Then get on all fours. Place your toes on the floor so your feet are at a 90-ish degree angle to the floor. Arch your lower back. Then move your hips back, only as far as you can go and still keep your lower back arched. Be gentle. Move slowly, forward and back, keeping the arch in your back.
-Where are you on your current projects, and what did you accomplish in the last year?
-Acknowledge both your struggles and your achievements.
-If you are doing this in a group, ask each person to bring a quote, or two, that they love to share.
-What were your favorite books in the last year? What is on your reading list for next year?
Lunch - celebrate your accomplishments with a treat. Champagne is great, but if you don't drink, or don't want to, pick something else.
Take a walk
-Weather permitting, take a short walk to get some fresh air and move your body. If you aren't able to, do something active for 20-30 minutes. It does not need to be strenuous.
-Pick something that makes your inner child, or inner artist, happy. Anything but writing. You can color, do a photo project, dance, play twister, draw, paint, etc. This idea is to use different creative muscles than you do when you write. We picked up rocks on our walk and painted them, as new writing buddies.
-Have one person pick a prompt. Set the clock for 30 minutes. The only rules are no thinking and no judgement. Just write. whatever comes up. You don't have to share them with the group when you're done. The idea is to work outside your writing project, but if that is all you can think about then do it.
-Some ideas - And then she said... Once upon a time... Never was there ever, a greater... It was a bright and shiny... You can look up many on the web. Don't agonize over it. Just pick one and go.
Afternoon tea or coffee
-This is one of my favorite, every day rituals so my group put me in charge of it. I brought loose leaf tea, crumpets, Devonshire Double Cream, Irish Butter, fancy Strawberry Jam, and organic half and half for the tea instead of milk. Decadent and luscious. Do whatever floats your boat.
-What do you want to accomplish in the next year? What do you need to do each month and week to accomplish it? Goal setting is not my strong suit, but one of my brilliant friends points out that it is easy to look at larger goal and get overwhelmed. Breaking it down into bite sized chunks that you can focus on one at a time makes it easier to accomplish.
-Think of one reach goal. Something you doubt you can finish or pull off, but would love to. I like to think big. Even if you don't reach it, it will make you stretch further than you think you can.
There is nothing better than taking a day to relax and reset. Even if you don't think you have the time, carving out half a day can make a huge difference.