My Irish Writing Retreat

My Irish Writing Retreat

My Irish Writing Retreat

If you’re a writer, you probably have an imagination.

At least, that’s what I told one of my nieces, years ago, when she was coming up on her teenage adventures. She was concerned about what her peers thought about her. Long after they had moved on to shopping and movies and sports events, her main source of entertainment was pretend play. She spent hours in her room, making up stories, acting them out and then writing them down in a notebook.

I didn’t see anything wrong with using her imagination like that. Truth be told, I still pretend, too.

  • When the dishes get out of hand, I sometimes pretend everything is in order so that I can stay focused on my work.
  • When I have a looming deadline and several other obligations piling up on me, I pretend that time stretches out to accommodate me. Somehow, everything works out.
  • When life gets monotonous–and sometimes it does–I turn to fiction writing, make a new scene, and become a new person for at least a few minutes.

Isn’t that what writers do?

Melissa Donovan from Writing Forward had this to say:

Breakthrough Writing Ideas

I recently got stuck in a story that I was working on. The characters were in the middle of a conflict and I had to find a way for them to get out of it. There were plenty of options, but I wasn’t sure which one they would choose. I tried to think through it, but I just thought myself in circles. I tried writing a list of possibilities, but that didn’t help me make a choice.

Then I decided to do a little pretending. It wouldn’t be interesting to show the characters working out a plan for overcoming their conflict in the narrative, but I could certainly write a dialogue scene between them, then file it away and write the action scene. I sat there and played out a conversation between two characters. It was almost as if I was performing an impromptu scene. It was a little awkward at first, but the conversation moved along. The characters worked out a plan and I saw the path they would take.

I was basically playing and pretending. Play-acting in a little one-person scene and pretending that I was my characters. And after struggling for several days to work out a problem, I got to a solution in just a few minutes.

I think that’s pretty amazing.

For me, almost all my fiction writing is a form of pretend. It’s how I escape, how I experience new worlds, how I learn about new roles and other civilizations. It’s the kind of fun that wraps around my mind. It allows me to find solutions to my problems and, I think, it makes my writing more vivid.

This week, I’ll be using my imagination to take a trip to Ireland, where I’ll participate in a writing retreat. My goal: to finish at least a rough draft of one of the non-fiction projects I’ve been working on.

In reality, I’ll be popping a travel video of Ireland into my television whenever I’m in the main area of the house, and I’ll be playing Celtic music on my computer while I write. Most likely we’ll have something like Irish stew for dinner one night.

One of the great things about this kind of traveling-writing retreats is the lack of expense. My children can come to Ireland with me, all in the comfort of our home. No airline fees, no need to eat out, no trying to find my way around a continent I don’t know. Without those distractions, I have great hopes for a productive week.

I’ll be in Ireland tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, and, if the going is slow, I’ll be there Saturday, too.

And what will I pretend next week?

I’m thinking Japan.

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