Today we welcome back fine artist/teacher and novelist Laura Azzi to Write from the Inside Out. Laura lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and is extremely active in the Wonderland Book Club, a monthly gathering of the NC Writers’ Network Wake County members. Laura was one of my 10 Dream It Do Women’s Writing Retreat participants and today she shares some of her insights with those of you out there who are serious about their writing and are ready to dive into a writing retreat. Note: I’m in the planning stages of organizing the 2015 Dream It, Do It Retreat—it will also be at Bend of Ivy Lodge in Marshall, North Carolina, and will be held in Friday through Monday, August 7-10. I’m so excited to announce Laura Azzi will be our guest artist and she’ll lead a watercolor class during the Retreat. If you’re interested in registering now, please contact me.
From Laura Azzi, guestblogger to Write from the Inside Out
This was my first writing retreat and I went without expectations. It was time away to write and an opportunity to relax in the North Carolina mountains. The following are five things I not only learned but took home from the Dream It, Do It Women’s Writing Retreat, August 8th–11th that was facilitated by Alice Osborn, held at Bend of Ivy Lodge in Marshall, North Carolina, right outside Asheville.
- Prompts and Meditation.
Each morning session, we began our time together with writing prompts and meditation. The prompts put me in an unintended direction for another book I have been working on. I totally left the initial space I was dedicating this time to and created some concrete work for another novel. This was unexpected and I was thrilled that it happened.
Regarding meditation, I had added walking and yoga to my daily exercise over the past several months, but I had not realized the benefits of non-movement mental focus: i.e. meditation. I realized as I was meditating I was not clearing my mind as much as I was utilizing a resting place of internal energy to allow my inner self to speak. This made tapping into my creativity for writing more accessible.
Even in the quiet of my suburban home, there is noise of the city humming around me. I rarely get away so I took advantage of the location of the lodge by opening the windows. Lying awake I listened to the sounds of the mountains, breathed in the freshness, tasted the earthiness.
I enjoy meeting new people. I was in my element. The support of other women and the camaraderie were golden; good conversations, meals shared with laughter. Lots of it.
It was a chance to listening to other writers struggle with themselves as they put their hearts into writing truth in their memoir timeline. I was not listening critically as I did in other situations but rather listening with compassion.
- The Return.
Less than forty-eight hours upon returning home, I found myself falling back into old habits, putting the benefits of the retreat on a back shelf. Despite the peacefulness and centeredness the retreat gave me, I found myself:
- Eating up my day with perceived priorities
- Having the TV on for background noise
- Checking my personal and business email 7….8….12 times a day.
- Falsely justifying skipping daily meditation.
- Running myself too much on the clock and less on my needs
This writer’s retreat was not just to escape to have three days to write. Rather, it was to establish a lifestyle of writing; to embrace the need to have writing a priority. I know that in order to be a writer I must write, but I must also nurture myself to create a focused and productive space in my life to write.
Laura Azzi is a professional artist (watercolor and pen & ink) who teaches at NC State. With her diverse background in biology, medical research and business, Laura is always up for learning new things. She lives in Raleigh, NC, is an active member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, and is working on her first novel about a dog, called Jacks.