Allow space to create

Rustic Writers' Retreat Hike

A cow stands guard at a clearing in the woods in Mount Vernon, New Jersey.

I noticed the cow standing guard at a clearing in the woods. He had wandered into the forest and watched as we trekked to an area of moss-covered rocks. It was sometime after 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I had led a group on a hike during a recent Jersey City Writers rustic retreat in Mount Vernon, New Jersey. About 11 of us were staying in a farmhouse for a weekend writing immersion.

Could we be as diligent and disciplined with our writing as the cows were with their grass chewing and grazing? Could we return to the same field day after day? What these cows had was incredible amounts of space to go about their work and that’s what we were attempting to create for ourselves. But creating space to write requires more than just showing up to a retreat, your chair, laptop, or notebook for that matter. Landing in a scenic, quiet setting doesn’t instantly bring words to the page.

You have to allow for the space that comes from just being. You have to let go of all the distractions that keep your mind cluttered and allow for that clearing in the woods to manifest inside. I found that the moments I spent hiking through the woods, observing the night sky, or just listening and watching the cows as they pretended to be busy were just as valuable to creating space as sitting down in front of a blank screen.