As you probably know by now (unless you’re new here—if so, welcome!), I’m writing a book. Not a short ebook, but an actual full-length non-fiction book. It may be the biggest project I’ve ever undertaken (aside from raising a child). I started working on the book close to a year ago, and I’m only half-way through the first draft.
This is partly due to the fact that I didn’t work on it at all between January 15 (when I started working full time) and sometime in May. I’ve also been spending a lot of time on research this summer—reading, taking notes, organizing notes—that kind of thing.
Now I get up at 5 am most weekday mornings to get an hour of writing in before hitting the treadmill at 6. Weekends are hit-and-miss. Needless to say, it’s slow going.
So when I decided to attend a mobile web usability course with Nielsen Norman Group up in Minneapolis on September 9 (i.e. this past Monday), I thought it would be a good opportunity for a writing weekend getaway.
I emailed my cousin Hanna whose apartment is conveniently located minutes from downtown Minneapolis and asked if I could be a writer-in-residence for the weekend. She said she would be up north camping, but I was welcome to stay at her place.
Perfect. Quiet apartment. No responsibilities. No wifi. 7 minutes from Wedge Community Co-op.
I arrived on Saturday early afternoon and got situated (that took about five minutes). Then I went to The Wedge to stock up. Pizza, yoghurt, chocolate, mineral water—the essentials. I returned to the apartment ready to write.
Over the course of the past week, I had been in the process of moving my completed content from WriteRoom to a MS Word document. (I love WriteRoom, but I was getting to the point where I needed to start citing sources, and I had also started thinking about self-publishing, so I thought I’d better get my book into a decent format before it got too unwieldy.)
I managed to finish this process at some point on Saturday and then started working on Part 3 (of 5). Throughout the course of the afternoon and evening, I noticed something amazing: I was experiencing flow. I didn’t feel hunger. I didn’t feel thirst. I didn’t feel like checking Facebook every 10 minutes. I didn’t even feel like leaving the apartment to spend some time in one of the many eclectic coffee shops in the area. By the end of the day, my book contained a total of 33,013 words.
I slept well and got up the next morning as soon as I woke up. I drank some water and went straight over to the computer to write my weekly message to the Simply Enough Inner Circle (if you want to receive these, just enter your email in the black box at the top right of this page). Then I ate some amazing granola with the best yogurt ever and went to work on my book.
I took a few breaks to plug into the network to look up various pieces of information, but mostly, I just wrote. Not until my stomach was growling did I break to head over to the Wedge for some lunch. Later in the afternoon, my body started craving movement, so I decided to walk the 1.2 miles over to The Nicollet, a local coffee shop. They make their own chai. It was wonderful.
After a couple of hours, I walked back and wrote until my brain started slowing down significantly around 7:15 pm. By that time, I had added 3,510 words to my book. Success!
I finished my writing weekend by watching the documentary Happy, which had been sitting in my Netflix queue for quite some time. It reminded me of all sorts of awesome things like cohousing, the value of community, and the fact that you can actually improve your happiness level by improving the lives of others.
Taking time away from everyday life and responsibilities is great for creativity and productivity. That’s why my next dream vacation is to somehow—magically—get accepted to Martha’s Vineyard Writers Residency. (It could happen…)
But until then, I’ll look for other opportunities to get away and write—even if it’s just the local coffee shop. (And continue my 5 am dates with my MacBook Pro.) Because writing is good for the soul.