This week’s interview is for the women out there who are writers or would-be writers. If you feel you have a powerful piece of writing inside of you, that you yearn to bring to life but you haven’t been able to make it happen, read on. Don’t worry, there is a travel component to this, too. And next week, we’ll get back to purely travel.
One of my favorite sister travel bloggers is Jeannie Mark, author of the beautifully-written Nomadic Chick. Jeannie, like me, is a solo female traveler — only she does it full-time. I first met Jeannie a few years ago in Montreal. She is just as smart, just as much fun, and as lovely a person as you might imagine if you’ve ever read her work. We bonded over our shared love for the written word and being single women travelers.
While I love the work Jeannie’s done with her own writing at Nomadic Chick, I’m thrilled that she’s taken on a role mentoring emerging writers and travelers through prominent speaking engagements like the 2013 Asian Women’s Empowerment Conference and her 2014 keynotes at the Women in Travel Summit and Blogstock. What you may not know about Jeannie is that she’s also leading writing webinars and retreats. Jeannie and writer/editor Leigh Shulman (of The Future is Red) are co-founders of Creative Revolution Retreats.
Creative Revolutions has a women-only retreat coming up in February 2015 in Costa Rica that I thought might interest some of you ladies out there: Though writing is the central focus, the retreat also takes a holistic approach to “self care” via meditation, practicing yoga, getting massages, and more with a small group of other women who are on the same journey. It has the benefit, of course, of being hosted in the exotically beautiful Costa Rica. Sometimes, it takes getting away from everyday obligations and stressors to focus on the creative process to kickstart that writing project you’ve been thinking about for years but haven’t actually started–or to just get back in touch with the creative side of yourself that you may have lost from years of being worn down by the world.
To give you a better idea of what this particular retreat is all about, I asked Jeannie to answer a few questions for me. Here is the focus of the retreat, in Jeannie’s words:
What brought you and Leigh together to create this retreat?
Leigh was my editor on my book, but we’d often have these in-depth discussions about being female writers and the challenges we come across. We realized that so few women writers are focused on in the media in positive ways and that many women come to us for advice about writing. We are always on the same page when it comes to creativity and knew we wanted to build something lasting for other writers.
Your retreat emphasizes the connection between “self-care” and creativity. Can you tell us a bit more about why you think wellness is important to the writing process? Can’t one be a great writer if they’re a chain-smoking alcoholic?
I hate the image of the brilliant writer but geez, he or she is an unstable, half crazed alcoholic. Writing should come from freedom too, not solely pain. There was a time I didn’t take care of my wellness — when I smoked, drank somewhat heavily and had brilliant flashes of prose hit, but then it would die quickly. Why it did was because whenever I touched upon that part of myself where writing sprang from it brought inner demons. Why not a different approach? One where you take care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally, so that you can create freely–without doubt or anxiety. Artists bring beauty to the world, we have this gift, so let’s offer it joyfully.
One of your goals for this retreat is to help women face and overcome their fears of writing. What do you think is the biggest stumbling block for women when it comes to writing? Or is it more than one thing?
I’d say the biggest stumbling block is perfection. Women are nursed from infancy to always be the perfect little girl — don’t talk too loud, say please and thank you, be polite — which then increases as we become adults. That perfection then turns into our appearance (whether we’re pretty enough), and whether we are good mothers. So when a woman wants to write, immediately that hateful inner critic is in place and its will is strong. The fact is, writing is not perfection. It’s a process, a wonderful, painful, sometimes tedious process. But when the flow happens, there’s nothing like words spilling from your head through your hands. That hateful inner critic is what we’re trying to banish at the retreat.
What’s the most important thing you hope attendees take away from your retreat?
Our retreat is about encouraging women to embrace themselves as they are and trusting in the ‘gift’. That ultimately means trusting themselves. You’d be surprised how a person will blossom once they hit upon that — everything about them becomes infected with confidence and a grounding they never thought they had. Fact is, we all have it, we just need to find it.
Thank you, Jeannie!
I sat in on a recent webinar Leigh and Jeannie hosted, titled “Get over your fear and finally write!” which covered the various fears that prevent us from writing. Leigh and Jeannie did a fabulous job covering the topic. The webinar gave me a good idea of what they could accomplish with a week-long writing retreat, and I was impressed. I have no doubt this is going to be a worthwhile retreat, but ultimately, only you can decide if it’s for you or not.
To get a better sense of what you might expect at the full retreat, you can sign up to participate in their next free webinar, coming up on October 8, 2014, titled “Let go of perfection and finish writing!” (Even if you have no interest in the Costa Rica retreat, if you have any interest in writing, I highly recommend checking out their webinars.) To read more about the upcoming Costa Rica retreat, visit their website: Creative Revolution Retreats.
Photo credits: View of Costa Rica and Yoga, courtesy of Samasati via Creative Revolutions Retreats; all other photos by Creative Revolutions Retreats.