Today may be National Groundhog Day, but if I have my way, I won’t be seeing my shadow, and I certainly won’t have time to check if ol’ Punxsutawney Phil has seen his.
Instead, I’ll be completely off the grid enjoying a DIY solo writing retreat.
Running away from home
A few months ago, I found myself in a desperate state. I was buried in content audits and facing article deadlines, but my remote work routine was not working. I couldn’t make any headway without myriad distractions interrupting my flow.
I desperately needed a quiet place to work where no one knew my name.
On a whim, I booked an Airbnb, packed a bag, grabbed my laptop, and set off to Palm Springs – some 100 miles away – eager for a change of scenery and some time alone to write.
Getting away to get grounded
I’ve learned to make due as a writer and content strategist in busy newsrooms and trendy, open concept tech spaces. I thought there would be fewer distractions working from home, but now I know better.
Susan Ito, a teacher at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, says, “Just being away from our own familiar homes — with their never-ending calls of laundry, house tasks, and errands — created the perfect writer staycation.”
How to plan a solo writing retreat
Ready to plan your own DIY solo writing retreat? Here’s a basic list to help get you started:
1. Decide on your location.
If you can get away for a few days, consider Airbnb. I prefer a separate studio or full home space without an on-premise host so I can truly be alone.
If a short-term rental isn’t feasible and if you know someone with a guest cottage, ask if you can use it for a few days. Or, try house sitting as Ito and a small group of friends did to create a writing retreat. Or, if you can completely eliminate distractions at home for several hours, schedule a day-long retreat to enjoy a bit of uninterrupted writing bliss.
2. Figure out the time-frame you can be gone.
I set out on a Thursday evening so I could have all of Friday and Saturday to write before returning home on Sunday. An overnight stay or a single day can work just as well too, especially if you’re doing a trial retreat at home.
3. Pack essential supplies.
I brought along a few of my favorite things on my retreat, including a journal, my favorite pens, some books, a Kindle, snacks, and a Bluetooth speaker to enjoy my go-to playlist.
Even if you’re retreating at home, gather whatever gets you in a writing groove to create a retreat-like experience.
Refresh, renew, reboot.
In addition to finishing an article and making meaningful headway on a content audit, my solo writing retreat gave me a change of perspective and a clean slate from which to create.
The time I spent away from home also provided an opportunity for me to refresh my work routine, enabling me to reset my work-life balance once I returned home.