I spent last week on retreat at a family cabin in the mountains. It has no internet, no cell service, no television service. It’s on a lake in the Adirondack mountains and is quite cozy, has a huge fireplace, and is a perfect place to settle in and write. It’s also a great place to retreat from the constant news cycle and constant hammer of data and stimulation, which helps my ADHD brain calm down.
Heck, even as I write this I have the news on in the background. I know I shouldn’t, but I do.
While I don’t get to do these retreats more than a few times a year, they are incredibly valuable to me both as a writer and as a person. Having the opportunity to not deal with my phone constantly pinging me with updates from Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, the news, TikTok, and the various places I’m on social media is important. I know for a lot of people the FOMO (fear of missing out) is big, but for me that quiet is a relief. I’m also old enough that I remember a time before all of these things existed, so part of me longs for the silence.
During that week, I wrote over 10k words on the second book in my book series. It’s currently sitting at about 40k words (a little over halfway since my target is around 70k). The quiet makes it easier to create. I typically write about 1,000 words per sitting, though I don’t write every day. There are many days I am too fatigued, in too much pain, or dealing with real life, so I write slower than some. Generally speaking, it takes me about 6-8 months to produce a first draft in my experience, though I have won NaNoWriMo a few times, so I know I can do it. I just don’t often have the luxury of that kind of time.
Part of my routine during this vacation was reading. I finished two books in the gere I’m writing in, and started a third. And now that I am home, I am reading one of my first non-fiction works, “I Alone Can Fix It” by Carol Leonning and Philip Rucker. I haven’t read much for nonfiction, but I find the writing in this good enough that I can follow it. Even if it’s not my usual fare. I’m doing this partially because the subject matter interests me but also because I am trying to read things out of my comfort zone to expand my knowledge of the craft. I also buy books to study the typesetting, editing, and formatting because that is part of what I do, after all.
I know this is a lot of a ramble. I’m having a bit of brainfog today because the smoke from the Canadian and Pacific Northwest wildfires hads settled in my area, which is making it hard for me to breathe (I’m an asthmatic). My hope is that the incoming rain will knock some of it out of the atmosphere, but we will see.
Back to the vacation, however. I can safely say that if you have the opportunity or ability to shut down the world for even a day or two, you may find–as I do–that the creativity you are struggling with comes roaring back. Disconnecting with the constant thrum of input is invaluable to me as a writer, and while I am definitely an internet native (I started going online in the 90s), I also see the benefit of just…not. Enjoy the quiet.
Also, when I got back, I hadn’t missed anything of serious importance. If World War III had started while I was gone, my mother would’ve called the land line and warned me. So the FOMO? It’s a lie. Taking some time offline won’t mean you miss everything. Heck, like me, you might not miss anything at all except a few memes and a couple emails.
In short, I’m back all the richer for my trip, and I’ll be getting right back to the business of writing, Twitter, and the rest. It’s nice to be home with my cats, but no small part of me continues to long for the quiet of the lake where I could write and listen to the loons call back and forth in the gloaming and mornings were shrouded in mist so thick I couldn’t see past the end of the dock, and it felt like the rest of the world ended there, in the smooth, glassy waters of Loon Lake.
E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry as an editor since 2009, starting at Divertir Publishing and eventually partnering with her close friend Richard Belanger to begin Insomnia Publishing.
Ever since childhood, E. has been an avid reader and writer of fantasy. The first chapter book she remembers reading is The Hobbit, followed swiftly by most of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. In high school, she perfected the skill of walking while reading without slamming into anyone. Mostly.
When she isn’t reading or writing, E. is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and has a B.A. in European history from SNHU. In addition to her many historical pursuits, E. is a musician of multiple instruments, a cat mom, and a loving wife to her husband, J. E. also speaks out for the disability and chronic illness communities being a sufferer of chronic migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.