Hiya, bookwyrms! I’m back with another ramble.
A couple months back, I started working on an outside experience for my project through my MFA program, the Rainier Writing Workshop. The outside experience (OE) is an activity that you have never done before. It is completely new to you, so that you are able to spread your wings a little and experience more of the world in order to improve your writing.
RWW explained that this experience can be anything from a trip to Europe (though, since the planning of my project occurred in the dark times of COVID, travel wasn’t exactly an option for me) to a new job or hobby. Anything that gets you out of your comfort zone!
As a side note, you don’t have to be enrolled in any school or university to venture outside your perceived limits. Take that polka dance class you’ve had your eye on! Bake a fancy cake! Climb a few trees! You’ll find that trying new things will become a priceless experience for you.
Personally, I decided to go on a writing retreat! I went to the cutest little cabin in Indianola, Washington called Flying Squirrel Studio, run by the kind and amazing Holly Hughes. Indianola is a beautiful town, full of trees, rocks, and nature galore! The cabin is located very close to the beach, and I was fortunate enough to arrive just in time to see the low tide. I walked all the way out as far as I could go!
Indianola is also a very quiet place, when you spend it alone in a cabin. But the solitude was exactly what I needed. With not much else to do besides read the poetry books already on the shelves, make plenty of unique and delicious tea, and tinker with the miniature Zen garden, I forced myself to write my project.
Within the span of one week, I wrote 100+ pages. (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧
Which isn’t exactly a dent in my current, humongous draft (which will probably end up being at least five times that many pages…what did I get myself into?). But that’s a huge step up for me in terms of getting words on the page. Ever since I started college, jobs, and adulting in general, I haven’t been able to get into the right mindset to actually write.
However, through my experience at Flying Squirrel Studio, I realized that I was writing so much not because I had made time to write, but because I placed myself into the right mindset to write. As much as the beautiful and quiet environment helped me to settle down and think, what I really needed as a little mental nudge to get me back on the right track.
My OE went absolutely wonderfully, and I ended up being very kind to myself and proud of the work I’d done. (Even though I stayed up super late and got scared because the printer started printing with a mind of its own at 2 am. ⚆ _ ⚆ Or maybe I dreamt/hallucinated that…I’m definitely a night owl, but I probably shouldn’t have been up at 2 am anyway.)
In any case, take this as a nudge for you to try something new and inspirational! Give yourself the space to write as much or as little as you want and see where it takes you. It took me *part* of the way through my draft. Now, for the rest of the way…
Photo: Holly J. Hughes website, Retreat…to Flying Squirrel Studio!