Monday, January 18, 2010

Mentor Monday: Inspire Yourself

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! To say Dr. King was an inspirational person is an understatement. He helped transform the thinking of (at least) our nation. People will be finding inspiration in his life's work for generations.

For me, inspiration is the happiest part of the writing process. It brings with it a focus so intense, there's nothing to do but write. Something so magical should not be left to chance. The permanent number two on your writing list of Things to Do should be Find Inspiration. (Number one on your list is Sit Down and Write, but you knew that.) If you wait for inspiration to strike, you could be waiting for a long time.

Attending conferences, workshops or retreats is a great way to keep the writing fires stoked. In a few weeks I'll attend my fourth Kindling Words (KW) in Vermont with Janet and Diane. It borders on crazy how psyched I am for it. 

According to the KW website, "Kindling Words is an inspiring retreat where accomplished authors, illustrators and editors meet, talk shop, participate in workshops, and inspire each other." They had good reason to use a form of the word "inspire" twice in that sentence. KW truly is inspirational. Participating in KW, however, isn't easy. You have to be published, and you have to snag your retreat spot in a lottery.

What can you do if KW is exactly what you want, but you're not published or favored by Lady Luck? Check your regional chapter of SCBWI to see if they offer any retreat opportunities. (While you're there, mark down the dates of your regional conference and then go to it!) If you can't find a retreat, or if what you find is just too expensive for your budget, create your own retreat.

Decide what you want from your retreat then make it happen. Maybe you want uninterrupted writing time. Maybe you want unstructured time for clearing your head. Maybe you need to do some research. Probably you need to do a bit of each. The point is, you need to plan things out before you take yourself on retreat. You might just plan to bring a few writer friends with you.

A few years back, Write Sister Diane Mayr organized a successful small retreat for children's writers at Poland Spring Inn in Poland, Maine. Twelve writers participated in Writers' Asylum Retreat, and it remains among the best retreats I've attended.

If a retreat is what you're after, look around. See what's out there. If there's nothing, then pull your own together. You'll be happy you did.


Diane said...

Don't forget the awesome Chautauqua retreat held each summer! Talk about inspiring!

I'm Jet . . . said...

Oooh! Excellent post, Andy.

Andrea Murphy said...

Thanks, Janet!

Chautauqua! How did I forget about Chautauqua? Thanks, Diane!

Mur said...

Thanks for the inspiration, Andy! :)