My goals for a two-week writer’s residency

September 21, 2010

I’m on my way to northern Georgia for two weeks at The Hambidge Center, an artists’ colony I’ve written about a lot on this blog. Two weeks of solitude and reflection! Two weeks of connecting with other creative spirits! Two weeks of daily walks in the woods! And most importantly, two weeks of working on my book.

Road to one of the studios at Hambidge.

Here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish:

Finish revising my manuscript. I’m planning to hand it over to my literary agent for edits in early October, which means I’m nearly at the finish line (for this round). I’ve got a few big-picture issues to work on, including strengthening my theme and beefing up the third section. This is what I’ll spend most of my two weeks on, and I can’t wait to see the finished product!

Work on several other creative pieces. I’ve had a few personal essays in the works for months, including a Modern Love column (partly for practice, partly because being published in The New York Times column is on my bucket list). If I finish revising my manuscript, this is my next priority.

Re-read Your Life As Story. Well, in truth I’ll probably skim the book. I found the memoir-writing guide by Tristine Rainer to be so helpful a year or so when I read it, that I think reading it again — while at a different point in my writing process — will be beneficial.

Write columns and guest blog posts. When I need a break from my manuscript, I’ll work on a few guest blog posts and columns I’ve been thinking about for a while but haven’t gotten around to, including advice about transitioning from journalism to memoir.

Think about what’s next. I’m planning to take some solitary walks in the woods to have quiet time with myself. I want to think about my priorities in life so I can make a good decision about where to go from here. Do I want to write another book? Go on another adventure? Or would I feel more stable in a full-time job? Should I move to Washington, D.C., Brooklyn, or somewhere else entirely? I hope to make these decisions in the coming months, and having some alone, in-the-woods time to think about my options always helps.

Now your turn: If you had one day to yourself, without the distractions that come with work, the Internet and even family, what would you hope to accomplish? How can you make that happen?

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    11 Replies to “My goals for a two-week writer’s residency”

    • Alyssa says:

      The thought of you in Modern Love just made me giddy! Do it, do it! I can’t wait to read what you come up with.

      Also, re: guest post on transition from journalism to memoir. Oof. I’m struggling to get rid of technical talk and thoughts of grammar in the personal essay class I’m in. Feels like so long since I’ve written w/o those restraints. Could definitely use advice on that.

    • Karen Walker says:

      Hey, Alexis, if you decide to check out Brooklyn, let me know. My son lives in Park Slope. He’s single and very cool (if I do say so myself). If I had one day with no distractions, I’d get a chapter or so written on my fiction piece and further flesh the nonfiction book.

    • Jessie Carty says:

      If I had one day to myself with no interruptions?

      I’d actually, probably, go a bit insane at first thinking I’d have to plan, organize and make the most of it.

      Most likely, I’d want to just read and maybe scribble away in my notebook. A few poems perhaps? Maybe an essay or two?

      How can I make it happen? Actually, not too difficult. Just send my husband off to spend the day with his brother out of town but making myself step away from the computer would be the hardest part. Checking email or facebook gives me a nice break 🙂

    • Two weeks in the woods doing nothing but writing and reading and hanging out with other writers? That sounds amazing! And soul-refreshing! Have fun!

    • Andi says:

      I hope that in your solitude you find lots of inspiration!!! I can’t believe how close you are to finishing your book, so exciting! If I had one day to myself I would drive to the beach. 🙂

    • alisha says:

      Have a great retreat! I’m craving some time away to do nothing productive, just sit and read a novel. 🙂

    • Alexis, I hope your retreat is a great experience and you accomplish a lot.

      As for the occasional day to yourself, I actually write those into my calendar. I’m also one who tends to choose a day of reading as the ultimate fun.

    • Alexis Grant says:

      Thanks, everybody! I’d love to respond individually to all of your comments, but I’ve arrived and already out of Internet time! More updates soon… Appreciate all the support.

    • Awesome goals! I can’t wait to hear all about what you accomplish.

      If I had one full day, I would start with some coffee, blog reading and novel outlining. I’d work for a large chunk of the day on writing the novel and also do some blog writing, guest posting and other miscellaneous Internet things throughout the day. Mainly focusing on the novel though.

    • Heather Rae says:

      I love that you’ve put some real thought into what you want to accomplish while you’re at your writer’s residency. I am always more productive when I’m organized (which I have not been lately). I need to take a few days to organize my priorities for the coming months. I’d like to finish the outline for my next manuscript and then make a timeline and budget for my travel plans. And now that I’ve written that down, I realize I need to schedule the time to do it. Thanks for the post!

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