Tag Archives: prompts

Strawberry Creek Lodge – Writing Retreat – Spring 2016

Blog 1 – The Retreat

Anticipation.

It’s been building since the day we left last year, brought on and encouraged by the positive results and the lasting effects of concentrating for days with one’s own muse. More time! So in answer to that request, we extended the trip one more night on the long weekend, which gave us one more full day of retreating to write. It’s funny that we need to retreat in order to bond or reconnect with our inner creativity. It’s the way life is, though – fast paced and loud, demanding and insistent. Surely a retreat is not always necessary – it’s a mini vacation for the mind and soul. If one truly takes the time to focus on “self”, while appreciating others’ need to do the same, the results are amazing and the argument for retreating is unarguably natural medicine for the ailing spirit.

Commitment.

Planning and soliciting attendance isn’t necessarily difficult or anxiety building until you get closer to the day and unanticipated events happen to cause holes to appear in your apparent flawless and effortless planning. Life happens – things come up that you cannot possibly foresee over the course of a year. The need to have minimum numbers causes the added pressure to ensure all the seats are filled. We are all thankful that a distress call put out there attracted the attention of like-minded individuals who could make the weekend getaway. Financial strains this year had me even questioning my spending; however, the benefit to my mental well-being far outweighed any other argument. It just means more work upon returning home.

Benefits.  

Nature. Focus. Amazing surroundings. Like-minded souls sharing your love for words. Ability to socialize, materialize, compromise – or just disappear into your own world, as needed. As a writer, the solitude is a blessing and it is made even more inspiring by the beautiful setting and lodge.

No – you don’t have to go away to write, but a retreat is an experience every writer should try during their writing journey. Most will go back for more – year after year. Others will savor the experience and move on, knowing they can always go again when warranted. For me, it is a place I could imagine retiring to in order to write to my heart’s content for the rest of my life… the whole working for a living thing-money and paying bills- thing that stops me for now. Every trip produces more work and creates memories shared with writing colleagues. Fellowships are forged – friendships are solidified. The wonderful thing about Strawberry Creek Lodge is the myriad of delightful nooks and crannies where one can hole up for a time or stake out for the duration; the rooms are wonderful sleeping and private working quarters to spread out your tools and prepare to produce; the meals… the meals are marvelous. Imagine being called to the table by the cowbell at set times to enjoy amazing meals with your retreat pals. No cooking. No dishes. No cleaning.

Pitfalls.

None. Unless, of course, you count the fact that you won’t want to go home and you might attempt to kidnap Brenda, our awesome host/cook, because you never want to have to cook again… ever…

As a dedicated writer, invested in your passion – you will utilize every moment possible to focus on your words; be kind to yourself with rest and relaxation; socialize at appropriate times; connect with your inner creativity and nature. For those who couldn’t go – there is sadness in what life brings – but there is always next year.

A Writing Retreat. It is not something that is necessary – but it is something life-altering to those with a serious passion for word creativity. The retreat is a great way to immerse yourself in the beauty of solitude away from every day distractions to focus specifically on writing. It’s a recharge for the creative battery.

See you next year – keep on writing!

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Never Ending Stories

As it drags into the final hours of the day, the final day of my holiday time off, I can’t help but reflect on last year and all that was “write” even though thoughts of “all that is still left unwritten” ring in my head like the bells of Auld Lang Syne. With the wine drained and the mistletoe packed away, one can now focus on the writing journey ahead (or the next bottle of wine…)

For this writer, 2010 was a year that produced some very high highs and some very low lows. Not everything pertained to writing and it is sometimes very difficult to separate the writing life from life in general – they both have such an effect on one another. Despite all, I would have to say for things “write” it turned out as best it could in some areas and most wonderfully in others.

Committed to Blogs: January 2010 propelled me out of the blogging gate with a promise to post as many as I could during that first month to my word press blog – I posted 24 and it proved to be my best month with a total of 137 blogs posted by the end of the year (an average of 11/month). This number only considers those posted here but I also blog many stories and writing prompts on the internal section of our writer’s group member blog. It also does not include original material that I might have posted to my own web site http://wildhorsecreativearts.ca or that I posted on a new blog I started on March 30 at Blogspot called Diet: Just Do It. I changed the title midpoint through the year from Diet: Just Do It or Die because of the negativity the title expressed. I was trying really hard to be positive in using my words to relate the progress of my “challenge” and therefore I was also trying to produce encouragement – to myself. I managed an additional 49 posts to this blog, including a review on a health guide published by Vibrant Nation. During 2010, I was also asked to be a guest blogger on Vibrant Nation, a 50+ international site for women – there I can re-post any work I publish here and also post original work, if I so choose.The re-posting is a wonderful way to spread my words and create an awareness or connection. During the summer I incorporated a publishing company and that meant another blog to post to – this time on the business of taking others words and dreams to a published end.

Included in Books: The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County (WFSC) compiled a book of writing prompts and challenges intermingled with original artwork and writing samples         submitted by 17 members of the WFSC. As one of these members, I had several pieces of writing published as well as several illustrations including the cover art. Writing Prompt Journey – The Road to Your Creativity expresses what any writer wants to portray – passion, imagination, creativity, and a love for the written word. In the book Christmas Chaos, released in the fall, one of my short stories was accepted as a submission to be published as one of twenty-five original short stories to do with “Christmas gone awry.”

Expressed on the Web: I was asked to write three stories (two published on line in 2010) for an artist’s web site – the pieces were posted on the summer solstice and the autumn equinox. I contributed content for approximately 10 web sites in this past year and ‘keeping up with the Jones’ on the social media sites, faces, pages and tweet decks made for a huge on-line presence, whether or not they know it’s all me – I’ll never know. I read a funny tweet tonight that made me stop and think “writing is 3% talent and 97% avoiding the temptations of the Internet…” Sometimes you just can’t get around it, though 🙂

Prompted on Saturdays: Creativity is abound on our writer’s web site – just read the blog posts in response to the prompts posted every Saturday. The book mentioned above used posts from the web site to establish the content and submissions for the current book. I find that prompts do everything from creating panic to creating potential. I have used prompts to create a continuing story, as have others, and it is even more challenging to ensure you don’t just use anything and everything – forcing it to fit does not always produce a desired effect, even if it “completes” the task. It is amazing to see the differences in each post even though they are inspired by the same words, phrase or idea.

Living the Writing Life: As I said before, all else in life goes on around you, and you can be propelled by it, controlled by it, or driven by it – it is all inspiration, if you allow it to be. Stay focused on your goals. If you make writing an important part of your life it will propel, control and drive you because passion does that. The time ahead comes to us as we move forward and what we do to get there is our choice – we can do lots or we can do nothing – it does not matter for it waits for no one. It is the writer who puts down pen instead of words who falters.

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Writing on Writing Prompts

Writing prompts are very useful and necessary tools for writers to use. Yes, you have those projects you are working on all the time but it is a good idea to stir up the creative juices by throwing in something totally different whenever you can. This process allows you to free yourself from the confines and the binding stress of having to produce only one massive thing that may stretch before you without end, and only remind you of how long it has taken to get to this very point.

It does not pull you away from your goal of finishing that specific writing project. It does, however, fuel the fire.

By challenging yourself to write something totally different at intervals during a large project, you keep your creativity fresh and alive. Step away from the novel and the research and treat yourself to a writing prompt that will produce an off-the-wall, new, way-out-there piece of writing. Let the prompt take you to places  you have not gone with your writing; create a new character and a new plot within a short piece of writing that allows you to see beginning, middle and end. It might even inspire a longer version at some point in the future.

The whole idea of the prompt is to keep ideas fresh and flowing. Once you have enjoyed the treat, you can return to your project.

You will be surprised that the fluid motion of free-fall and prompt writing lubricates the creative muscles and brings a renewed freshness to your longer work.

In the same way we are inspired by others and their writing, we can inspire ourselves by experiencing any and all writing exercises. You might not even share these with others but they are still a boon to enhancing your own skills and honing your craft. If you do choose to share, do so with those who can give constructive feedback based on the prompt and your attempt to “step outside the box.”

Remember, as writers the most important thing is to keep on writing. When the creativity feels stale and you are chugging along, poking at the keys – try a prompt. You will feel refreshed and invigorated. Opening yourself up to the opportunity allows you to channel those words to paper. A patterned attempt at these will surprise you, for inside the writer there dwells another realm where stories are constantly brewing…

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The Color Purple

This is not about the movie – that was a long time ago and I don’t even remember if I watched the whole thing, but I do remember Oprah Winfrey was in it.

This is about a writing prompt I received via email and it said just simply: “The color purple – write about it.”

It stuck with me through the day and I wondered on its meaning to me – not that I sat there thinking “hmmmm, what does the color purple mean to me and what should I write about?” What I mean is, I couldn’t let it go and decided I just had to write something on this prompt. Call it a mid-week writing prompt, if you will, but any prompt that probes the creativity and challenges your writing process is as good as any other that might be presented at a more opportune time.

Purple. Usually associated with royalty although “royal blue” has the name. The word I would use to describe purple with is regal. It is rich and full and pleasing – IF – and that’s a big if – it doesn’t have too much red in it or venture too close to magenta or mauve. Those variations of light purple just don’t do it for me. Turn me off just about as much as periwinkle does…

With purple, I can imagine cascading vines, rich and lush against a white trellis.

I imagine misty mountains in the early morning just before the sun breaks through the peaks, their base still mired in the depths of night, when color starts to creep in with the dawn.

I imagine the far side of the rainbow where the color spectrum takes a dramatic turn in dark contrast to its counterparts. When it takes on too much black I imagine eggplant but not black cherry because that has too much red and not enough blue.

It is funny the direction that writing might take depending upon your mood and your thought patterns at the time. It could have very well went the way of emotions prompting you to write how you feel about the color not about what you see. Personally, I like deep, rich purple but not for anything specific other than perhaps in a painting. It is not my favorite color and I probably wouldn’t wear too much of it – however, I recently bought a striped shirt with deep purple, black and white – it has sparkles of silver throughout as well – so I wore it to the dinner theatre.

The funniest story I have of purple is when I bought my car. When I returned from Toronto in 2005 after a brief writing sabbatical there, I was without wheels until I got back to work here and found an apartment. I applied on-line for my car – purchase and credit – and it was approved without me ever having to go into the dealership. It’s nice when you have specifics and are not picky about things like that – this worked great! Talking to the salesman on the phone after the deal was approved, he said he would pick me up and I could get my car. We talked and in passing the color of the vehicle came up. I said it didn’t matter as long as it wasn’t purple! There was silence on the other end…

Needless to say, any of you who have seen my car knows it is NOT purple, but recorded on my registration as “maroon.” Acceptable.

So much for me and purple – for tonight anyway. Remember when the notion hits you to write about something, anything, just do it because that’s what writers do!

Keep on writing… purple, green, blue….

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