What Do You Need as a Writer? Three Things Highlights Gave Me

Highlights desk

I am over at the GROG with a post about my recent Highlights trip. Hop on over there to find out what I loved the most.

When Your Writer Self Gets Smacked with a Reality Stick

I love writing retreats. I’ve had the great opportunity to attend one particular retreat, organized by brilliant YA novelist Val Patterson, and led by multi-published Candice Ransom, for three years in a row. It feels indulgent to spend the weekend in a hotel room by myself and talk over dinner about books and writing and actually write. It feels fabulous to be wined and dined and focus fully on writing.

I’m a mom of two young kids, and I normally write amidst the chaos of early mornings, my day job, busy schedules, and “mom-look-at-this” interruptions. But getting to focus on my writing for two days really helps me. There’s time to think. Time to read. Time to take a long bath. Time to actually absorb what I’m learning.

I loved gossiping about our writing and talking about what we love about each others’ work.

When you are with a group of writers—even a group of writers with much more experience that you, like I was—one thing was really clear. WRITING IS HARD WORK.

3rd Annual Writing Retreat, Luray, VA

3rd Annual Writing Retreat, Luray, VA

There is no getting around it. You can be a great writer and still have struggles within the industry. You can write and write and write, but revision is down and dirty tough work.

It wasn’t discouraging for me to be reminded of this. It lifted me up. It helped me realize that I’m not alone and that slogging through the work every day is just what you have to do.

Not only do I enjoy the camaraderie of being with other writers, but I also enjoy the solitude of the journey. The two hour drive there and back prepares my mind, gives me time to sift through ideas, and think. I recorded voice memos to myself about a new book possibility on the drive back.

And then…

The inevitable happened. Upon returning to the real world of my family (that I missed very much), packing lunches, grocery shopping, laundry (which has to be carted elsewhere while we renovate our laundry room), catching up at my day job, preparing for upcoming presentations, and so much more, this writer feels like she got smacked with a reality stick.

You know that one that makes you snap out of it. The one that makes you realize that whole weekend might have been a dream?

What I find most difficult about that slap is that I have to spend a few days trying to find my way again. I know there is lots to be done, but it’s like searching for a light switch in the dark, in a house that’s not your own. You bump into walls, you try to find something familiar, but you just want to have a little bit of light.

I’ve spent the last week trying to find my way out of my writerly bliss, back to my real routine, and making a plan for what lies ahead for my revisions.