Monday, August 29, 2011

Getting Away From It All ...

Most authors have unique writing processes, little tricks to help them write well. Mine is simple - just getting away from it all. When I've completed my research and am ready to begin the next novel, I plan a writing retreat to some place that will inspire me and feed my creative process.

When I was ready to write my "Waters of the Dancing Sky" novel, I took off, alone, for Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. I brought all my research notes with me, colored pens, and a roll of white paper. It was time to create my fictional village on paper. I needed to know where my characters would live, what the town looked like.

I settled into my room at Rock Harbor Lodge, got my supplies out - but found it difficult to get down to business. There were trails to hike, a lighthouse that beckoned, moose roaming the island, and Lake Superior lapping against the rocks beneath my balcony.

So I headed out to explore this wilderness island, chastising myself for not getting down to work. After all, writers need to write, don't they?

Of course, BUT... it was then that I discovered my secret to writing well. To write effectively, I find that I need to achieve a delicate balance among three things: learning, creating, and being.

"Learning" is the exploration, research, travel, taking in and absorbing of information. "Creating" is the process of shaping that information through your unique perspective, rearranging bits of information into something new and meaningful.

"Being," however, is the piece that we often tend to ignore in our fast-paced world. It is the process of letting go, of clearing your mind, of doing nothing except absorbing the world around you without the need to analyze or fix anything.

As I settled into the natural rhythm of Isle Royale, I thought about this. I gave myself permission one morning to just sit out on my balcony as waves crashed below me, as diamonds of sunlight danced with the seagulls. I lost myself in the waves, in the magic of this mysterious lake.

I had nothing to show for that morning - nothing except a burst of creativity. I felt that I'd absorbed things deep within my soul and subconscious, things that soon began to surface in the pages of this novel.

Just being... and getting away from it all... Try it, you'll like it!

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay


  1. Lovely way to soak in before pouring out (on paper). I could get caught up in that scenery, too. It's the silence I love but seldom experience. Not having the means to go on a solitary retreat, I have to be content to stay home, and that, because of the busy street I live on, seldom includes silence. So I have had to learn to live with it and just take a day here and there to wander through quiet gardens and take pictures. It's a good second-best to a longer retreat. And I try to take time to read. One of my friends doesn't like to read while she is in the middle of a writing project because she is afraid it will influence what she writes and it may lead to unintentional plagiarism. But I find inspiration in reading provided I have a book I can get temporarily lost in.

  2. Janet,

    You're so lucky to have such an opportunity let alone gift! I one day hope to write my first book. It's a dream that many bloggers have I guess. But thank you for providing such vivid set of mental images; it sounds idyllic.

    I will be back,

    Best wishes,


  3. Keith, if you truly want to write that first book, you need to pursue that dream, one day at a time. You can do it! My best to you.

  4. Diane, I hear you and I also find great inspiration through reading. Even if you can't escape into a wilderness setting of solitude, you can find - and write about - unique perspectives within your busy world. Best to you!