By Leslie Lindsay
|(image retrieved from the Madison Visitors Center website 6.21.12)|
I am having an absolute ball here in Madison, WI at the “Write-by-the-Lake” retreat hosted by the University of Wisconsin. Here’s how life doesn’t get much better: writing instruction, good group of peers who also like to write, good shopping, a nice location, yummy things to eat, and some time alone.
Here are the downsides: I miss my dog. And my family. That’s why I just spent the afternoon doing a little shopping for them…arrowheads and university tee shirts and books…now if I could only find something for the hound).
Another downside to all of this learning and time alone: I perseverate. A lot. As our instructor, Kathy Steffen says, “I am throwing you all of this information like a fireman with a hose.” It’s a lot. I think I have acquired something like 22 hand-outs/worksheets since the first day of class. Have I looked at them again? Well…not exactly. (But shhhh….don’t tell Kathy Steffen).
In fact, there is a little something to this. You see, I got to class from 9-noon every day. I absorb all I can in the form of a little sponge, soaking up tips and techniques that will help me. I may or may not consciously remember them. And that is okay, at least according to our instructor. It’s like learning all you can about something and then just letting it become a part of you. I know, it sounds kind of hoodoo-voodoo, but I think she’s on to something. For some reason, the instruction I receive in the morning hours, powers me up for the afternoon.
But, it’s not so cut-and-dry. You see, like wine or cheese, us writers need time to breathe, air-out if you will. Let the ideas percolate. And so, I went shopping. Later, I will exercise. And then, I may feel like putting all of those tips and tools and techniques to work. It’s not procrastination, mind you. It’s simmering. And it’s writing in chunks, another suggestion by our fearless leader.
“But I must have hours to write. I need 5 solid hours of writing time,” you wail. Oh, no you don’t! And I am learning that. Yes, I used to be (just last week) a 5-hour writer. I may be again if I am really in “the zone,” but I like this chunking thing.
When I go to bed at night here in my hotel/dorm room, my head is full–just overflowing–with ideas, tips, thoughts about my next plotting move, characterization…I am so wound up, I can’t even get to sleep, though I am exhausted.
Now, when was the last time writing kept you tossing and turning like a kid on Christmas Eve?
Write on, Wednesday!
For more information on the retreat I am attending or Madison, WI see these sites:
- Information on Madison http://www.ssec.wisc.edu/clarreo/meetings/2011/madison.html
- We Go Places: http://www.wegoplaces.com/WIMadison_Region_289_Cat_Information.aspx
- Write by the Lake Continuting Studies: http://continuingstudies.wisc.edu/lsa/writing/wbtl/