By guest blogger Valeka Cruz
Milli’s Fear of Writing post, How To Dream a Writing Retreat Into Your Life, inspired me to think about going on a writer’s retreat of my own. My budget was extremely limited so I wasn’t sure how I would afford a getaway. I shrugged my shoulders and tossed the idea into the back of my mind to think about at another time. I had resigned myself to the notion that, financially, a trip wasn’t feasible for me at this time.
The next day during a conversation with my best friend, I mentioned Milli’s blog and how I would love to get away for a few days to get in some quality writing time. She knew my finances were limited so, in true best friend fashion, she suggested that I go along on her family’s camping trip and use that as my writer’s retreat.
I didn’t want to infringe on her family time but after a bit of coaxing from her and her cousin (also a friend of mine), I was convinced – I would be going on a three day camping trip to Garner State Park!
I hadn’t been camping since I was a young girl and didn’t know what to pack. My friend told me to just bring comfortable clothes, sunscreen and a journal to write in. She assured me that everything else would be there (and it WAS!). I knew that being with friends would be nice, getting fresh air would be nicer and possibly eking out some time to write would be nicest. As great as the idea of writing outdoors sounded to me, I didn’t anticipate getting much writing done with all of the other activities that would be taking place. But, I was optimistic and took a journal and pen with me just in case.
The road trip was long and familiar. My bestie and I took the same route that we travel on our trips home (the park is about 40 miles north of our hometown). Once we made the turn on the highway that would lead us to the park, the scenery became more beautiful. I could feel my mind and body relaxing as I looked out at the rolling green hills standing against a clear blue sky that was dotted with fluffy white clouds.
We made it to the park and found our campsite. The weather was perfect and relatively cool by Texas standards. The gentle breeze made it easier for us as we performed the usual camp chores like scoping out the area, setting up our tents, and unpacking gear.
Despite a brief freak out about not having wifi for my cell phone, I had to admit that there was something soothing about unplugging from the world. It felt good to not have my hands on a keyboard or a phone attached to my ear. Instead, I used my hands to gather wood and my ears to listen to the sounds of nature.
The rest of my best friend’s family arrived and hellos and hugs were exchanged, so I snuck away to do a little exploring on my own. I took my notebook and a pencil and headed out to see what I could find. Maybe, just maybe, I’d find inspiration.
I came across some beautiful tree-lined trails and walked along the river’s edge. I found myself smiling a lot as I continued on my path.
I discovered a nice little place to sit and enjoy the views that surrounded me. I felt very fortunate to be where I was at that moment. I knew I was exactly where I needed to be and it was such a wonderful feeling. I took a deep breath, got out my pencil, and opened my notebook.
My writing mimicked nature. The words flowed onto the paper . . . once I got past a few rocky parts. Some ideas moved rapidly while others were simply trickles of thought. I welcomed each of them as they presented themselves to me because I knew that they all had their own special place in my notebook.
I would take an occasional pause from the words to admire the beauty around me. I wished I could be surrounded by it all the time. It lead me to wonder what beauty there was in my daily life that perhaps I had overlooked because it was too close for me to really see. Maybe there is inspiration in my own backyard that has been untapped and is quietly waiting for me to stumble upon it.
I didn’t write in large volume during the camping trip but what I did write was quality. The ideas I received while I embraced nature are great little nuggets that will surely inspire future projects. And I have some wonderful pictures I can view when I need reminders of my impromptu writing retreat.
An added bonus: I learned that the creative spark I sometimes need may be right outside my door – no tent needed.
You can also enjoy Valeka’s travel story about her camping trip on Milliver’s Travels:
Valeka Cruz (@runningonheavy) is a freelance writer and blogger living happily in Austin Texas with her three fur babies. Her weekly blog, Running On Heavy, provides health and wellness motivation along with life lessons. She loves chocolate, hiking, laughing, hot tea and, especially, writing (not necessarily in that order depending on what kind of a day it is).