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The art of surging

Last month I spent four days in the company of acclaimed author Charlotte Wood and seven other writers. Well, I didn't actually meet any of them. Instead, we spent time with one another virtually as I participated in my first on-line writer's retreat. Wood calls this a "surge" and sets you up a month out to clear your diary, get food in the fridge and focus your mind on the creative tasks ahead.

Whilst I hoped dedicated time would enable me to get parts of my third novel into shape - which I was able to - the most important part of the process was honing in on creative ways of working. By setting dedicated goals each day - and letting them be known to the group - I had a great sense of accountability. Every morning I was able to think 'someone actually cares what I'm doing today!' At the end of the day we were asked to look at our achievements "with generosity", so the aim was not to judge yourself but to accept what you could or couldn't get done.

This was a positive way to hone in on how much can be done in one day and, for me, to draw me away from the clock-watching which often happens, when I get panicky about how soon the hours can melt away.

I also came to terms with the different ways I need to "set" myself before plunging into the writing, especially when I've already been out into the world, primarily doing school drop offs. Suggestions around meditations were very helpful and I've dug up my old mantra CD for a few rounds of "Relax and let go" before starting the work.

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