Artist in Residence — at HOME

artist in resI’ve declared that February is “Leave me alone I’m writing a novel” month. In other words, for the 4 weeks of February, I’m going to do my best to achieve the focus I’ve generally managed to find in writing residencies, but in the comfort of my own home.

If you’ve ever been to an art colony, you know what I’m talking about. I haven’t done that many, but I’ve been to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts a number of times (including their property in France) and I’ve been once to Kimmel Hardin Nelson Center for the Arts, The Hambidge Center, and Ragdale. For different reasons, these were all wonderful experiences and for the most part I got a lot of writing done during each residency.

However, since I returned from Ragdale at the end of November, I haven’t done much writing. I’ve made a little progress on my new novel, but not much. I’ve had other projects that needed attention, but with more focus I believe I could have been further along on the book. I need a residency, but I can’t get away just now (I don’t want to board my elderly dog for a long period) and, frankly, I shouldn’t need to. I’ve got a nice house and good workspace. What I need is . . . discipline.

So, here’s what I plan to do during the month of February (and beyond, if I can keep it up):

  • Keep my Internet/Social Media usage to a minimum. I’m a Facebook addict, I admit it. I find it fun and also useful. It’s unrealistic to think that I’ll be able to stay away altogether, but I’m going to make an effort to limit myself. Only at night? We’ll see.
  • Stay out of the coffee shop. For the past year or so, I’ve been a regular at a local coffee shop. I get a little done there, so it’s not a total waste, but I spend time on travel and money on coffee unnecessarily, and I also expend energy on blocking out distractions. I’ll try to limit my coffee shop visits to my writing group’s weekly “write-in”–a chunk of time one afternoon where we come together just to write.
  • Write morning and afternoons. When I’m at a residency, I usually work all morning and all afternoon, punctuated by walks to clear the head, and sometimes work in the evening, too. At home I’m less good about afternoon work. Instead, I use afternoons for errands or cleaning. I do have a lot of reading that needs to get done, though, so that will be my evening “work.”
  • Keep working on the weekends. I do this more or less anyway, because for a writer it makes no difference whether the day is a weekday, a weekend, or a holiday. At a residency, this is even more true. The day of the week is irrelevant. There’s nothing special about the weekend.

If I’m able to stick to these resolutions, by the end of February I should be very close to having a very solid draft of my new book. Wish me luck!

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  1. I do wish you luck, Cliff! I need the same kind of discipline. It’s so much easier in a retreat setting where distractions are virtually nonexistent. You inspire me to do better, and there’s really no reason why I can’t, so I may undertake something similar during February. It’s an “inside” month anyway; I should take advantage of it. I hope you’ll surface now and then and let us know how it’s going. Here’s to lots of progress!

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