Tag Archives | Room to Write

Inspiration from Room to Write

800px-Tower_at_Scarritt_BennettI just got home from Nashville, where I co-produced the re-instituted Room to Write, along with Terry Price and Janet Wallace.   This event is not a writing conference.  Rather, as we like to say, it is a time for uninterrupted creativity.  While we did offer several talks throughout the weekend, they are totally optional, because the point of the weekend is to give you time to get away and write.  So we emphasize that if you’re in the flow with your writing, stick with it and don’t come to the sessions.

The event is held at the Scarritt-Bennett Center in the heart of Nashville, a gorgeous spot that is a former college. As such, it is dotted with cool old stone buildings and beautiful mature trees.  It’s a very popular spot for weddings. Each participant gets several meals in the Harry Potter-style dining hall and a room.  The rooms are, shall we say, spartan, and most of them share a bathroom.  When I say spartan, I mean spartan: one single bed, one desk and a chair.  I’ve actually grown quite fond of these rooms and am able to do some great writing in them–like I’m holed up in my own little writing cave.  But participants also have free run of the entire campus and many of us ended up hanging out in Lasky, where they serve coffee and there’s lot of places to sit and write.  I got a lot of good writing done up there, too.

I could go on and on about what a great time I had, including dinner with my student Norma at Epice and lunch with the beloved J.D. and Donna at Chuy’s, but my real intent here is to share with you some good info I gleaned from the presentations.

Labyrinth Walk

First up was Terry’s labyrinth session.  We met in a fine mist at the SBC labyrinth, which is based on the one at labyrinthsbcChartres Cathedral.  Terry is a labyrinth fiend and full of great information on them.  A labyrinth can be used a lot of different ways, but it is most often used for  spiritual or creative purposes.  It is one path with no tricks and no dead ends, unlike a maze.  You just follow the marked path (in this case, it is a grass labyrinth delineated by bricks) all the way through.  It will lead you to the center and back out again.  You don’t even have to think, and the point is not to.  It can be useful to ask a question before you enter the labyrinth and most often you’ll receive an answer before you depart.  Keep your journal handy!  I’ve walked the labyrinth many times and this is the first time I’ve failed to get an immediate answer, though it did come to me later.  If you would like to find a labyrinth near you, check out this site, which lists labyrinths all over the world.

Sustaining a Writing Practice Over the Long Haul

This was my session, and I had a great time.  Since we were a small group, I invited everyone to chime in with comments and questions as we went along and it turned into a great discussion about how to keep to the page.  I divided it into 4 segments: writing, doing something writing-related, doing something that will lead you back to your writing, or doing something that will support your writing.  The feedback that I got was that the ideas were very helpful and so I’ll probably work them up into a blog post or two in the coming weeks.

Creating From Wildness Through the Poetry of Rumi

This was another great session from Terry, using Rumi’s work to encourage wild, mad creativity in our writing.   It was a rich, deep session.  As one of our attendees said, “Terry is like blood pressure medicine,” and he is.  Very chill and calming and wonderful.  Here’s a snippet of the Rumi poem, I’ll Be Mad, to give you the flavor of it.

Forget safety. Live where you fear to live.

Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.

I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on, I’ll be mad.


Leaving the Writing Cave and Building the DreamJanet at Room to Write

Janet’s presentation on the mindset and marketing pieces we writers need for the business side of our lives was powerful.  She alternated between mindset recommendations and marketing advice.  Examples of mindset are: make peace with your desires, nurture your relationship with money, improve your gratitude, practice self-care of greater success faster, and nurture your relationship with time.  For marketing: write a personal manifesto, get clear on your ideal customer (or reader), use social media to build community and sell your books, find your tribe and continue to thrive.  Great stuff.  I took a ton of notes.

Besides the sessions and the blocks of time to write, another great aspect about Room to Write is meeting your tribe of writers.  We enjoyed an opening Happy Hour event to discuss goals and ended with breakfast at Panera on Sunday morning to talk about what we accomplished.  In between, there was much camaraderie over meals, a few spontaneous tarot readings, new friends and contacts made.  All in all, a wonderful time, well worth flying across the country for.  Of course, Nashville is my second home so I’ll head there any time!

Are you planning to attend any writing retreats or conferences this year?

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Five on Friday: Happy New Year!

Star_Wars_The_Force_AwakensAfter an absence of, oh a couple weeks, here I am, back with another Five on Friday.  That is if I can find the notes I wrote once I got inspired about this post.  Ah, here we are.  I’ve got piles of papers all over my office because I’m organizing things for the new year.  And then my cat comes and sits on things and that doesn’t help much either.  But anyway.  Here goes:

What we did for New Year’s Eve: Went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens (which I loved), ate take-out Italian and drank red wine, and fell asleep on the couch after having a New York New Year’s (i.e., watching the live version of the ball dropping, which occurs at 9 PM on the west coast).  It was a perfect evening.

What I wanted to finish last year and didn’t: The first draft of my current WIP, a novel.  But seeing as how I started it when we were in France in September and have only about 20K words to go, I’m not too upset.  I may be when I look back over it, though.  It is one helluva messy draft and by messy I mean plot holes big enough to drive a truck through, boring characters, loose ends that don’t tie together.  This, my writing friends, is why God invited rewriting.  Or so I tell myself.  Oh, and I also have a couple knitting projects I dearly wanted to complete but didn’t.  Maybe because I keep falling asleep on the couch at night, my knitting time.

Where I’m headed next week: To Nashville, for Room to Write.  We’ve got a couple spaces left if you live in the area (or even if you don’t) and would like to devote some time solely to your writing.  Great way to start the year!  There’s more information here.  And please join me in beseeching the universe to cure my sinus infection before then otherwise I’m not quite sure how I’ll cope on the plane. laskey_w

What I’m reading: I just finished Shonda Rhimes Year of Yes, which I highly recommend.  (In case you don’t know who she is, she is responsible for the TV shows Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, among others, and, as she says in the book, is dedicated to normalizing the characters we see on TV–i.e. including women, minorities, LGBT, etc.)  The book is worth reading to study her style alone.  She is funny and engaging and she uses a lot of repetition for effect.  But it is also very inspiring–after dedicating herself to saying yes to everything, even things that scare her, she loses 100 pounds, gives the commencement speech at Dartmouth, and many more.

I’m also reading The Book of Speculation, by Erika Swyler, which is cool. There are mermaids who die mysteriously, weird old books, tarot cards, and an ancient house about to fall into the Long Island Sound.  I’m not 100% engaged with it quite yet, but I think I will be.

And finally, I’m reading Home Baked by Yvette Van Boven.  Yes, I’m reading a cookbook.  At least parts of it.  She’s got bits and pieces about flour and other ingredients and I’ve already learned so much.  (Like, the fact that baking powder is basically just baking soda and cream of tartar and you can make your own.)  It is a beautifully designed cookbook (including photos of Ireland and the author’s illustrations) with tons of great recipes in it.

What I wish for you: A very happy and productive 2016, with tons of writing in it, naturally!

What’s going on for you this first day of the new year?

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Writers: Step Away From Your Computer*

Yeah, I know.  It’s November and you’re holed up in your writing cave.  Because, NaNoWriMo.  You’ve got words to write! 50,000 of them, to be exact! And even if you’re not participating in that NaNo thing, you’re doing your best to get tons of words on the page every day because that’s what we writers do.Typewriter_Writing_Writer_238822_l

And so, I hear you saying that you cannot step away from your computer.

But I’m telling you that you must.  That it is healthier for you and your writing to get out and about once in awhile.  And in case you’ve forgotten what that looks like (I had a writing friend who invented excuses to go to the grocery store so she could talk to the clerks) here are some suggestions:

Go to a writing event.  Okay, so these don’t exactly fall out of trees.  But even when they are available, we sometimes don’t take advantage of them.  I’ve been to two recently: Poets & Writers Live, and Wordstock, our version of the Southern Festival of Books, albeit in a pasty Northwest its-pouring-down-rain-out-there-not-sunny-like-in-Nashville kind of way.  Each was very different, but each had something that inspired me, educated me, or reminded me why I write.

Join a critique group.  This will get you away from you computer on a regular basis–weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.  And it will have the added benefit of gaining you readers for your work.  We all need readers for our work, precisely because we sit in our little caves and write and get way too close to our work.  You can find one by contacting your local writing group (most every city and region has one) and/or looking at the Meet Up site.

librarybooksGo to the bookstore.  If you’re anything like me, you spend more time on the internet looking at books than in actual brick-and-mortar stores.  But remember the pleasure of whiling away an afternoon in a book store, looking at books?  Its one of the best ways to spend the day ever.  And if the sight of all those author names on books doesn’t inspire you, nothing will.

Have a writing retreat.  Why, I just happen to know about one happening in Nashville in January.  It’s called Room to Write, and I’ll be there to guide and encourage you and talk about how to keep a writing practice going over the long haul.  Terry Price and Janet Wallace will also be on hand, but mostly you’ll have lots of time to write.  Even if you can’t come to Nashville, you can create your own writing retreat.  Find a cheap motel or an Air BnB nearby and hole up.  Band together with some writing friends and rent a vacation cottage (inexpensive in the off season).  Banish your family and hole up at home for the weekend.

Take a writing workshop.  There are plenty of them around. Try your local community college.  They usually offer a plethora of continuing education classes.  Check with your local writing group.  Ask the Google to find you some local private instructors.  Or, I don’t know, you could come to France with me next September.  (You can read about this year’s adventure here.  I’m in the process of posting info for 2016, and it will be up shortly.  But email me if you’re interested and I’l send you the brochure.)writersworkshop

Take an online class.  Okay, so you’ll likely have to sit at your computer for this.  And its not quite as good as getting out and about in the world.  But it might be a good chance to meet some other writers and learn stuff, too.  There’s a ton of them out there, and I predict there will be a rash of new ones starting in January.  Again, consult the Google.

Do something fun and forget about it.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is take the day off.  Yeah, it is best to have a regular writing practice, but taking time off can clear your mind and allow room for new ideas to emerge.  Julia Cameron recommends people take Artist’s Dates, wherein you go off on your own and do something that you enjoy, whether that’s swinging in the park or visiting an art gallery.  One’s writing brain does need replenishment once in awhile.

So, how about it?  What do you do when you have been sitting at your computer way too long?

*Remember, way back in the day when some car alarms didn’t shriek a loud, horrible noise, or honk their horn, but instead intone in a very deep voice, “Step away from the car” over and over again? I do.  And that phrase is forever embedded in my memory.

Photo credits (all are from everystockphoto):

Typewriter–kiamedia

Library shelves–click

Writer’s workshop–marshalltownpubliclibrary

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Room to Write, January 7-10, 2016, Nashville, TN

Cat_typewriter_suitcase2Writers often have to carve out precious moments from hectic schedules in order to practice their craft. Room to Write invites writers to get away for a long weekend of writing, inspiration, connection and rejuvenation.

Co-produced by two of the former directors of the successful MTSU Writer’s Loft program, Charlotte Rains Dixon and Terry Price, along with brand and marketing strategist and founder of UTOPiAcon (the convention for writers and readers of contemporary and paranormal MG, YA, NA and adult books), Janet Wallace, Room to Write is not a conference, but a time for uninterrupted creativity.

Participants write in chunks of time, breaking only for meals and optional mind-stretching exercises, such as walking the labyrinth, or attending optional workshops and presentations dedicated to elevating your creativity, energy and confidence.

Room to Write welcomes writers at any stage in their writing careers.

The loosely structured retreat leaves plenty of room for meeting word count goals while still giving you time to get the support you need to take yourwriting career to the next level.

For those who would like feedback on a current work in progress, the program provides optional mentorship from writing coaches, Charlotte Rains Dixon or Terry Price.

The Schedule

Thursday, January 7

3 PM:          Check in at Scarritt-Bennett Center (SCB)

5 PM:         Goal-setting Happy Hour – pick up your writer’s gift bag and discuss what you’d like to accomplish over the weekend. LOCATION to be determined.

Grab dinner together or on your own. (not included in price of retreat)

Write/Rest.

Friday, January 8

SCBlabyrinth-300x199AM: Surrendering to the Power of the Labyrinth to Unleash Your Creativity — Led by Terry Price

A labyrinth is a walkable path that has been used for centuries as a personal, spiritual, and artistic tool. The walking meditation provides a safe, guided path that unlocks the right brain giving it space and freedom to muse and play. It really is exciting and amazing what wonderful things can be revealed when the ego melts away during a labyrinth walk.

During this session, you’ll learn about some of the historical usages of labyrinths as well as possibilities for your own creative exploration. Although there are few rules to a labyrinth, you’ll learn some basics on how to get started and from there you will find and make each labyrinth experience your own unique path. Weather permitting, we’ll walk the labyrinth at Scarritt-Bennett Center as a group to get your oriented so that you can return again and again on your own as desired.

 Lunch in Susie Gray Dining Hall on SCB campus

 1 – 2 PM Clyde & Mary Room (2nd floor Laskey Hall): Sustaining Your Creative Energy Over the Long Haul — Led by Charlotte Rains Dixon CLydeMary-300x197

You’ve had the best idea ever for a novel. You’re excited about it—really excited—and you launch in writing with gusto. The excitement lasts about a week before it starts to dissipate. And suddenly you are having trouble convincing yourself to get to your desk, let alone open your computer to write.

What happened to all that energy and enthusiasm you once had for your project? The long haul happened, that’s what. Committing to a lengthy writingproject is much different than popping off a blog post, or writing an article or short story.

In this presentation, Charlotte will discuss useful ways to sustain your writing energy for the long haul, including:

  • The power of the H (habit) word
  • Morning routines
  • Refilling the well
  • Visualization
  • Fostering joy and tempering despair
  • And more!

 5:30 PM:         Dinner in Susie Gray Dining Hall on SCB campus — discuss our day; goals check-in.

 Saturday, January 9

  Terry-at-Marina-374-300x200AM : Creating from Wildness Through the Poetry of Rumi – Led by Terry Price in Clyde & Mary Room (2nd floor Laskey)

“If you can’t smell the fragrance

Don’t come into the garden of Love.

If you’re unwilling to undress

Don’t enter into the stream of Truth.

Stay where you are.

Don’t come our way.” ~ Rumi

Rumi was a 12th Century poet, scholar, philosopher, and theologian. He has become immensely popular in recent years, in large part, due to the intense wildness and passion of his words and poetry. We’re going to read some of this poetry and talk about the courage of creativity, the braveness of vulnerability and the willingness to be who you are and to express from that sacred place. You will not be required to share your work but you will be challenged to write from the sacred wildness of your soul. An open mind, a daring heart, and instruments with which to write are all that are required for this session.

 Lunch in Susie Gray Dining Hall on SCB campus

 1 – 2 PM: Clyde & Mary – Leaving the Writing Cave & Building the Dream: the mindset and marketing pieces you need to take on the business side of your writerly life.  – Led by Janet Wallace Janet_headshot_smile2014-242x300

You know you were put on this planet to bring all the worlds, stories and characters in your head and heart to life on the pages of books. And your hope is that there are readers out there who need those stories, lessons, book besties and book boyfriends in their lives to escape… or to connect. You want to build a living and a LIFE as a writer.

However, the thought of leaving the comfort of the writing cave, and having to “market” yourself, or spend hours on social media lost in the quagmire of other authors, and books and laser cats, makes you want to crawl under the covers with a pint of Haagen Daaz.

It’s time to move forward. And you can’t do that if one foot is stuck in a place where you “think it’s safe.” It’s time to forge ahead with your talents, and share them with the right people so that you can inspire, share and grow. It’s time for you to put all the missing pieces together FOR GOOD, so that you can make the income you need and have the confidence and knowledge to know that you can do so again and again. It’s time to leap the hurdles and turn the dream into reality.

In this workshop, Janet will share her 12-Step Program on what you need to connect the Mindset Pieces to the Marketing, Business and LIFE-building pieces so that you can find serenity — and security — now.

 5:30 PM:         Dinner in Susie Gray Dining Hall – goals check in, Q&A

 Sunday, June 10

Check out is at 10:30 AM

Brunch at Panera — discuss accomplishments, say farewell.

 Space is limited. Secure your spot now: http://roomtowrite2016.eventbrite.com

 About the Room to Write Workshop Leaders

  Terry-at-Marina-374-300x200Terry Price

Terry Price is a Tennessee-based writer and creative coach, having attended The Writer’s Loft (now MTSU Write) creative writing program at Middle Tennessee State University and graduated with his MFA in Writing from Spalding University in Louisville.  He has published several short stories and excerpts from his novel-in-progress, two of which have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Terry served as the program director of The Writer’s Loft and now is a Director Emeritus of, and a mentor with, the program. In addition to working one on one with creative clients, he also leads creative retreats, workshops, virtual retreats and webinars.

He is an photographer, long distance cyclist, Appalachian Trail section hiker, and sailor. He is an aspiring bon vivant and raconteur, likes bourbon neat but his journal messy and lives on a small farm in Springfield, Tennessee with his family and two dogs and lots of squirrels.

  Janet_headshot_2013-254x300Janet Wallace

Founder of two thriving businesses, Social Deviants, a social marketing company that helps creative entrepreneurs build online business platforms that profit; and UTOPiA, an annual writing conference and awards ceremony that nurture and celebrate writers of middle grade, young adult and new adult fiction, Janet has a passion for people, books, and dark chocolate-covered almonds. She uses her expertise to help clients grow powerful communities and create top-of-mind brand recognition and authority.

She hosts events and speaks regularly to local, national and international groups about how to effectively attract raving fans, loyal clients and increase sales while building businesses of purpose using your powers for good. Previously a brand strategist for a London-based, award-winning agency, Janet has worked directly with clients such as ooVoo, Oxygen Women’s Television, Film4/Channel4 London, Elle magazine, and a growing client list of New York Times best-selling authors. She has also been an adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University where she lectured on Social Media for Authors. She lives in Nashville with her husband, two children, two Shepherd-lab mixes, and one American Curl cat. Oh, and now the boy wants a pig.

  Charlotte1smlCharlotte Rains Dixon

Charlotte Rains Dixon’s mission is to make people happy, whether it is through reading her women’s fiction novels, her blog (charlotterainsdixon.com) on the writing life, or by coaching her students and clients to access the depths of their creativity.   She is the author of the novel Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior and the forthcoming The Bonne Chance Bakery, and her non-fiction has appeared in a variety of regional and national publications.  Charlotte teaches at Write, the certificate in writing program at Middle Tennessee State University, and offers private instruction as well.  She received her MFA in Writing from Spalding University.  Charlotte lives in Portland, Oregon, where she enjoys travel, her family, knitting, popcorn, wine, kitties and pugs, not necessarily in that order. She is represented by Erin Niumata at Folio Literary Management.

Room to Write Refund Policy:

Full refund available for 60 days from purchase or until December 31, 2015, whichever comes first. Fifty percent (50%) refund available after 60 days and/or until December 31, 2015, whichever comes first. No refunds after December 31, 2015 for any reason.