Releasing expectations … the fine art of stepping back

As I write this, I am midway through my fifth writing retreat with my good friend Marie Bilodeau, and I am feeling more relaxed than I have in a long, long time.

A really, really, long, long time.

I wasn’t expecting that. While each of our past retreats has looked a little different from the others, they’ve all had one thing in common: a focus on productivity. On words. On goals. Because that’s why we go on a writing retreat, right? I mean, to do otherwise would be …

Well, spectacular is what it would be. And fun, and therapeutic, and restful, and … and the list goes on. Interestingly, I didn’t even know how much I needed downtime until we got here. I mean, I knew I’d been pushing myself pretty hard lately (read: the last year … or two or three), and that I’m not particularly good at stepping back, but as far as I knew, I was handling it just fine.

A lot of things happened in my personal life the week before retreat (a lot ????), however, and when we arrived at the cottage, I kind of just … deflated. Only I did so in the best possible way, because I gave myself permission to just … not. Not worry, not push, not force, not do anything that didn’t bring me joy.

For the first three days, that involved a lot of hot-tubbing, relaxing in front of the fire, walking in the woods, good conversation with Marie, good food, and reading. Oh yes, and going Pokémon hunting, because Community Day (my first!). ????

It helps that neither of us is facing a deadline at the moment. We’re both at the beginning of new books, and each of us poked at our respective stories now and again, but for the most part, we let go of our expectations for them during this week and chose instead to take a step back. To retreat in the truest sense of the word.

And it has done wonders for both of us. Today, we gently returned to our computers, being mindful of our moods and energy levels. We’ve taken two hot tub breaks, Marie took a nap, I went for a walk in the woods (and caught more Pokémon!) … and the words have still happened. It’s been wonderful.

We’re here for two more days, and then I’ll be going home with a solid first three chapters and a whole new respect for balance in my life.

Now if only I could retain the lesson … ????




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2 responses to “Releasing expectations … the fine art of stepping back”

  1. Julie Czerneda Avatar

    Yup, yup. It’s too easy to slot creative activity into the same hamster wheel approach as, say, getting an entire house painted (not pointing, nope) in a week, perhaps out of “day job” habits or mores or, as you say, expectations (ours and everyone else’s).
    The problem with that? Time spend not being creative is critical to making new and wonderful things happen, and to our overall health. Going off as you and Marie have is a terrific reset but also a firm reminder of that.
    I’ve had to put such time on my weekly schedule and yes, other stuff pushes me back on the wheel more than I’d like, but every moment free enriches us–and makes the writing easier! Thanks for this post!

    1. Lydia Avatar

      Habits are sneaky things indeed … especially the bad ones, lol. This retreat has been a reminder of that, and a wonderful opportunity for a reset. Glad you enjoyed the post!

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