Off-Grid Life: Recipe for Creativity

Before leaving Hedgebrook, every resident is invited to offer a reflection for future guests in beautiful, hand-bound journals kept in each cottage. There were 12 journals in my cottage, dating back to 1986 and including rock stars like Danai Gurira and Ursula Le Guin. And the other five cottages have hosted big beautiful minds like Gloria Steinam, Bernadine Evaristo and Jacquleine Woodson—that’s one heck of an all-star 36 year line up. 

What did I offer future writers staying in my cabin? 

SO SIMPLE. And you can started right now: R E S T

Huh?!? I hear you scoff. Why in the heck would anyone schlepp across a whole continent, pay good money for a pricey airline ticket and live in a cabin in the woods for a month of rest? When said human could’ve just stayed home to rest?

And what’s rest got to do with the creative genius of writing? 

Turns out, everything. And turns out, I’m really lousy at practicing any of this, until I’m forced to. When I first arrived at Hedgebrook, I had a laundry list of things I had to do and the hard schedule I’d stick to, so I could get my Great Novel written. 

I fretted. And sweated. 

Not just about my writing life, but also about company deadlines and how we’d meet targets for the quarter. And I quietly kvetched over more personal qualms—my waistline stretching sideways and my total wtf choice to live a month off-grid (yup! My letters to you were pre-scheduled XXX)

Worst news? I wasn’t getting anything done. All the inner-kvetching and worry was doing zip for my writing. Which is when I decided to let go of control and give into the full Hedgebrook experience. 

Meaning, I said yes to everything my mind/body/spirit craved:

  1. Sleeping in and ditching the alarm, even dismantling my bedside clock battery 
  2. Spending copious hours in the flower garden, watching out for hummingbirds 
  3. Eating my way through the island, one wild blackberry at a time
  4. Saying yes to rich, delicious and thoughtful conversation after dinner over more work
  5. Sinking into bath soaks and long walks on the beach when mind chatter got loud
Cedar Cabin –

And what happened? 

The first 70 or so pages of my novel-in-progress pretty much redrafted themselves. Of course, I sat down to do the work, but I couldn’t have had that level of clear narrative voice and plot lines without divine inspiration. 

I also just happened to complete some 200+ pages of copyediting a forthcoming project I’m really excited to tell you about! 

All this done, I wrote to future writers in that magical cabin. And I’m imagining now you as one of those future all-stars:

Rest really is revolutionary. Especially for women. Especially for queerfolk. Especially for black and brown bodies. Take Yours. 

Do whatever you need to fully restore you. Hedgebrook definitely makes that easy. But the mindshift is all you. The decision to surrender to your deep and singular inner hungers. How can I tell you what those are? No one can. 

But I promise, the minute you surrender to your mind/body/spirit hunger—that’s the very moment you give your creativity permission to shock you with its abundance. 

I hope to God you’re as stubborn as a mule (or a certain cheeky Tswana writer you know XXX) and don’t just take my word. That you test this out for yourself. Right now, today, as best you can:

How can you meet your inner cravings? 

I’d love to hear from you if you see this experiment through. What opened up for you? Also, if you’d like more behind the scenes takes on creating a writing life:

I’m launching a new weekly letter for Creative Misfits Writing Their Story. Sign up Here.

You’ll get your first official letter in October. Every Sunday. Expect the full scoop on what they don’t teach you in writing school. Like landing your dream agent and selling your first book! Or why misfit creatives like you and I must write—as part of antiracism. Plus my full review of getting into my Top 5 Writers Residencies. And you guessed it, Hedgebrook is all up in there!

See you inside the Work.Kin.Writer.