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Writer Retreat Envy- Creating a Pause for Inspiration

Getting your muse back and other tips on tapping into your inner eureka.

Illustration by Alex Martino
Illustration by Alex Martino

It’s a typical weeknight in our home and the energy and accompanying volume is at mach ten. I’m in the kitchen cooking up a storm which also means leaving a disaster in my wake. Messy is the sign of creative genius of course. I’m multitasking and chopping greens while engrossed in a podcast. My teenage daughter has commandeered the kitchen as her art epicenter. Paints and papers sprawl across the table, inhabiting every square inch. I watch as she channels Jackson Pollock and creates a beautiful splatter technique on canvas, consequently bespeckling the wooden table. She cranks up her music playlist which is curated for inspiration. Upstairs, my son elicits warbles and wails from his electric guitar. He shreds in homage to the 70’s rock gods. His bedroom door is closed but I can still distinguish between riffs. The house sizzles, sings, splats, and shreds. The converging sounds meld together. It’s a mashup of Ozzy and The Sugarhill Gang, Rush and Seth Godin. I can only hope my garlic potato mash comes together as well. I’m reenergized after a long day and chop in sync with the beat. The sound of the garage door opening alerts us to turn down the chaos. My husband is home. He is a quiet soul and may very well have coined the Grinch’s famous phrase, “All the noise, noise, noise, noise!”   

Truth be told I also covet quiet. It’s when the creative muse comes to me in hot showers and early waking hours. She’s an early bird. Studies show that creativity flows best when we feel settled and our minds are in a relaxed state. It’s when I’m not distracted, stressed, and trying to force a solution that the answer pops into my brain. Eureka! I’ve started carving out time in my day to elicit more eureka moments. A “pause” where I can find a few minutes of solitude and serenity. The elusive muse is like the girlfriend who starts finally coming around, when you stop trying so hard.    

I’ve been working on a big, exciting writing project but have hit a road block. My daily pauses haven’t worked on this particular assignment. I think it’s because I know I have something important to say and it’s making me a little anxious. I’ll need more than a pause to connect with this deeper work and make it happen. I decided on a retreat and began looking into options. Hmmm, ten day silent meditation sojourn requiring a silence vow. Gasp! I’m a lover of words and communication, this option seemed maddening. Five day women’s writing retreat, hosted by NYT best-selling author, on the California seaside. A cool $10,000. Zoiks! That’s a college payment for my daughter. Most options were pricey, required a very long pause (ten days!), or not my scene. When all else fails, it’s time for ingenuity and a little DIY. I called a relative and asked if I could house sit while they were away this month. Eureka! I’m excited to spend three nights in Delaware, a short drive from the ocean. My own writer’s retreat by the sea. The muse is being coy but I have a feeling she’ll turn up. It’s hard for her to resist a perfect rendezvous point. I know it’s precisely when I stop worrying if she’ll show, that she indeed does.  She’s not the only one who can play hard to get.

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    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

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