Writer’s Retreat

Hey everyone, Flobo here with your weekly (or semi-weekly) dose of well…ME!

Wait, please don’t leave!

OK, today I want to talk to you about one of the more important parts of writing (or doing anything artistic or creative). You know what I’m talking about: THE GETAWAY

I returned it with a full tank of gas, bro!

I used to scoff when people told me that they couldn’t reach their daily writing goals at home due  to the fact their surroundings weren’t “inspiring”. The ultimate First World Problem, I found that as silly as someone saying they couldn’t eat meat off of the bone because it was just “creepy”. But alas, after moving into an apartment without roommates, the problem got to me too. Because I had a roommate at my old abode, most of the day was shared with the other person living in my apartment. At night, I was compelled to maximize my “alone time” and work on my first book, two hours at a time. I was like Neo in that movie that had two terrible sequels. When I moved into my own apartment (for “peace of mind”, ironically) I just couldn’t focus. Facebook and Twitter were my Weapons of Mass Distraction. My word counts dropped and what I did write now needed more drafts in order for it not to suck. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed to get out of my apartment, for nothing else but to encounter new experiences to write about.

My film production writing partner and I (you can follow him here) decided on the concept of writing retreats. Every month or so, we would pack up and travel somewhere off the grid to get some writing out of the way. Now, it’s not like we went into the wilderness or anything, but something just enough outside of the ordinary so that falling into your old habits wasn’t possible. For example, staying in a hotel with Internet access (but the stuff you had to pay for daily) was enough of a deterrent to not spend all day surfing the web.

Or at least, looking for unprotected hotspots.

You don’t have to go to a hotel to get writing done, though. There’s a bunch of places you can show up with your Great American Novel.  There’s one place that I DO NOT go to write however. These places are coffee shops. In fact, I treat coffee shops as if they are that neighborhood on the other side of the tracks. Get in, get your joe, and get out. Every hack comedian has some bit about how coffee shops are pretentious atolls in the great sea of normalcy. Now, I can go at length as to why my large coffee should never be called a “Venti Pike”, but the reason why I never go to a coffee shop is the clientele. I live in Los Angeles so I  can be a little ignorant in saying this, but you can never get a seat in a coffee shop. Every  restaurant is littered and crawling with other “writers” (of print and screen) that would rather be seen clacking away on a keyboard than actually getting work done. The freshman biology major surfs the web for hours while she nurses one small cup of black gold. Crowds of people create fire hazards by pulling all kinds of chairs to make some sort of  9-person “Supertable”. The local Coffee Bean looks like some sort of hipster triage.

But I digress.

If you have ever seen the movie “Collateral”, you could probably see my remedy coming. In the flick, Jamie Foxx’s character kept a picture of a beach in his cab and looked at it when he wanted to go on short 5-minute vacations. This technique is very helpful. You’ve heard of a picture being worth a thousand words, right? Well this picture:

My other house is a Yacht.

Has a different vibe than this picture.

There's actually a town called "Niceville, FL". Have you been? I have.

Pictures can do a lot to help you “visualize” being somewhere else. But what about if you need to be physically somewhere else? Well, for me that depends on your writing utensil.

If I am using my cellphone or a small notebook to write, I usually go to Parks or Diners (where the coffee is plentiful and people leave you alone if you avoid the lunchtime rush).

If I’m using a journal to write, the sky’s the limit. I’ve been to beaches, the pier, the top of a hill after a hike, public transportation (bus rides are the best for people watching)

If I’m on a laptop, motels and business centers work the best for me. Because I’m paying upfront for a space, I make sure I don’t leave until my goals are met. There’s something to be said about the financial incentive. It’s almost foolproof. I say almost because how many times have we paid for a gym membership and not showed up to pump iron?

What? That was just me?

This week, I’m taking a writer’s retreat to Las Vegas. You could argue that town has its own litany of distractions, and you would be absolutely right. It’s a tax write-off, so everything else is just dividends!

Until next time,

–Flobo

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