We may not be able to sit down and write anywhere. Some people can. Yay them! For me, though, my environment is ultra important. The energy of people around me affects me. The location. The natural environment.

Maybe that sounds like I'm a diva and everything must be perfect if I'm going to write, dahling.

Not really. I'm just super-attuned to my creativity, my energy, and what's going on around me. While I can shut some things out (because I'm a mother, too, and I've learned that skill in order to maintain my sanity), the effort it takes to shut out negativity or even just neutral environmental issues takes too much energy away from my creative process.

First, you have to understand that creativity is a cycle. You can't leave it on full power all the time. It needs to cycle off and replenish.

My creative writing retreat started Friday evening. I finished some research for a short story I had been working on, and then by noon on Saturday I finished the short story. That afternoon, I worked on my writing card deck project. By late Saturday afternoon, I was cooked. I read for a bit, had a lovely dinner with friends, and then was in bed by 9:00 p.m. Sunday morning (the last day!!!) I had until 11:00 a.m. to check-out. However, by 9:00 a.m., I thought I was done. I'd pushed hard to write text for just three cards in the deck, and I didn't think I could do any more. I thought about going home. Maybe my creativity was used up for the weekend.

I decided to lie down on the bed and put on some soul-stirring music. If I napped, that was great. If I just lay there and did nothing, that was fine, too.

After just a couple of minutes, I had some ideas about one of the cards I had written earlier that morning. I got up to add those ideas and ended up writing text for eleven more cards.

Not bad for thinking I was done. Writing - really, anything - flows much better when you understand and embrace the process.

Here's what else I learned from my personal creative writing retreat:

1. Creativity takes space, nurturing, self-care, and gentleness. It doesn't get forced. It gets eased into. For me, creativity looks like this:

Space - create - space - create.

Space can look like anything: taking a walk, sleeping, talking with a girlfriend, reading a fiction book for fun sitting and doing nothing, meditating, listening to music....

You can't force it. You follow your energy. You listen to your body. You allow your intuition to come to the fore.

2. Don't put pressure on yourself. If you have a crazy life (which is why you have to get away to write in the first place), your mind and body might decide that what you really need is to sleep and watch TV. If you expect that you're going to write 50,000 words in a weekend - because that's why you came on this retreat in the first place, dammit - then you've taken the focus away from the creative process and put it on the outcome. It's awfully hard to create from that space. Allow to come what comes. Be kind to yourself. Enjoy the process. What comes out will be that much better.

3. This isn't a one-time deal. Just because you get away to write (and that takes time, energy, and resources, and therefore you can't do it all the time), doesn't mean that this is your one last chance to write. Just look at exactly what's in front of you and focus on that. Now is not the time for big picture thinking and planning. Keep your eyes on the words in front of you, so to speak.

4. Realize that creating takes energy. If you're on fire creatively, don't be surprised if you're bone tired afterward. Creating at a high level is very similar to giving birth. While it's not physical energy you're using, creativity takes a different form of energy. So prepare to be tired, and build that into your weekend with activities to rejuvenate yourself. (See #1)

5. Plan transition activities. Don't expect yourself to create 24 hours a day every day you're retreating. If you finish one project, it's just about impossible to switch gears immediately and dive right into the next. Even if you're only working one project, finishing a chapter or a major scene may require you to transition before you move onto the next. Creating is hard work. It takes a lot of energy. When you're done, you're done. Whether that's after three hours or eight or twelve.... Stop, replenish, sleep, exercise, whatever.

6. Tell people what you're doing. While this can create pressure mentioned above, you'll be surprised at how many people lovingly pay attention to you. If you're a social media fan, update your status with your progress. Getting back emails, texts, retweets, replies to Facebook statuses will buoy you and keep you going.

7. You need a mantra for your creative writing retreat. Here's mine:

Allow to come whatever comes.
Be gentle on yourself.
Embrace the process.

So if you're lucky enough to go on your own writing retreat, follow these seven steps to set your expectations properly as well as to feel good about whatever you accomplish. And it doesn't have to be perfect, dahling.

Author's Bio: 

Dawn Shuler, Content Creator Extraordinaire, helps entrepreneurs and authors convey their deep message into compelling words, whether it's marketing material or a book, as well as to create powerful content to increase their credibility, visibility, and profitability. Her soul purpose is to help entrepreneurs unleash their authentic selves into their businesses through their content. She created the Writing From Your Soul system to help business owners connect more powerfully, reach more people, and make a difference. Download the free, 13-step system at www.WritingFromYourSoul.com.