Mini Writing Retreat, Edmonton-style



The words have dried up.

I’ve changed the sentence seven times. Then changed it back seven times.

My brain is so fuzzy that I no longer remember my protagonist’s name.

I make one more flailing attempt to continue writing, but the signs are irrefutable. It’s time for a break. Or, in more exotic terms, a Mini Writing Retreat.

Like most writers, I have my favourite form of writing break  retreat. It involves a racing pulse, and pure and simple movement in the great outdoors. Its name is…


Running refuels my writing batteries to the point where I fear I might not be able to write if I couldn’t run (although I understand other authors somehow accomplish such a feat).

I have been a devout runner for many years, and my running practice and my mileage peak once the temperatures drop and the snow flies. Those are the days when I am extra inclined to “fake sick,” ditch my writing, and head outdoors for a run.

On one such recent day, snow had fallen non-stop overnight and the temperature was a brisk -11 degrees Celsius (minus 18c with windchill). Images of my favourite running trails tickled the edges of my addled brain. The laptop before me was soon powered off.

I grabbed my running gear. Even as the layering process began, I could already feel my head beginning to clear.


Author or ninja?










(And really, is there a more glamorous item of clothing than a balaclava? I think not.)

Meanwhile, my beautiful Dion running snowshoes—my white, orange and black beauties–were summoning me from the garage.

Time to go play in the snow with the Dion twins!

My Darling Dion twins, how I missed you this summer. Time to go play!

With the Dion twins at my feet, I stepped onto the trail. I could hardly believe my river valley had transformed into something even more magical overnight.

photo 3-1

My co-writer/runner agreed, as was evident by her exuberant “Dashing Through The Snow” routine.

photo 1-1

As always, I didn’t consciously think about my work-in-progress while I ran. Yet somehow the gnarly bits of plot and character that had eluded me when I was sitting before the laptop began sorting themselves out. They untangled themselves further with each crunchy snowshoe stride and each inhalation of chilled air.

When I eventually surfaced and parked my snowshoes back in my garage, I was ready to continue writing. I was also confident that whenever I next needed a Mini Writing Retreat, all I had to do was firmly strap on my snowshoes and re-enter my magical winter portal–from which I would again emerge refreshed and ready to resume my writing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *