Creative Retreat 2017: Part 1

8:25 a.m., 5 August 2017


I am currently in Auburn, California, which is about 120 miles east of San Francisco. I am ensconced at my favorite chain hotel along I-80, weak morning coffee at the ready to my right and the following items to my left:

Colored pencils
Bakhtin’s “Rabelais and His World”
A blank, unruled sketchbook
A book about learning XML
A copy of “Getting Things Done”
Several knitting projects
Valeria Luiselli’s “Los ingrávidos”
Noise-cancelling headphones
Protein powder
A swimsuit
Plastic spoons
A pack of American Spirit light-blues

My intention for the creative retreat is to somehow dawdle, dally, and experiment with everything in that list during the next 24 hours or so. That, and also write… a lot.

My writing goal is 9 poms of 25 minutes each before I leave Auburn at noon tomorrow, and I give myself permission to focus on any project I may choose (and I have a lot of them). Ideally I would like to focus on just one of them, but a serious contender for the award of Winning My Whole Attention has not yet presented itself. Rather than sitting here being indecisive, I’ve determined that the following schedule might work for me:

  1. 9:oo a.m. — Random writing prompt: 25-minute pom** + 15-minute break. Tweet progress.
  2. 9:45 a.m. — Random writing prompt: 25-minute pom + 15-minute break. Tweet progress.
  3. 10:30 a.m. — Random writing prompt OR continued work on previous entry: 25-minute pom + 15-minute break. Tweet progress.
  4. 11:15 a.m. — Liveblog progress right here! (1 pom)

I’ll see you here around 11:15! Hopefully I’ll have wonderful things to say. Or… maybe I’ll have something that’s less than wonderful, but more than trivial. I’m hoping for major insight into the creative process today. Cheers, everyone. Off I go!

  • * For those of you not in the know, a “pom” is short for a burst of timed writing. It is short for “pomodoro” and comes from The Pomodoro Technique, which I used when I was still doing academic writing. It works for many academics — it certainly worked for me back then — so I thought I’d try it out with my other projects (albeit slightly adapted, mostly because I like to reward myself with a longer break). Read more about the usefulness of it on Lifehack. It’s not for everyone, but it’s worth a shot.
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