The unseasonably warm weather in West Michigan these last few months distracts from the sense that the Christmas season is upon us. I still keep my bedroom window open, for example, and the clean, fresh breezes are more reminiscent of mid-April than mid-December. So when I leave my coat at home and drive to the store on these 50-degree days, it’s a bit jarring to be assaulted with reminders that jolly ol’ St. Nick will soon appear. Especially with the memory of the last two winters — bitterly cold, deeply snowy — still fresh.

But the “feel” of this year’s holiday season reminds us that it’s good to get away from the hustle-and-bustle of daily life and to enjoy a mini sabbatical.

This year, I continue into a fifth year my long-standing “two weeks at Christmas” vacation schedule. I’ll be away from the day job from the afternoon of Dec. 18 until the morning of Jan. 4. In those 16 consecutive days of relative freedom, I’ll putter around the Caffeinated Press office (we have tasks, including inventory and 2016 planning, to accomplish) and spend some time at home curled up with the feline overlords and a good book or perhaps a Netflix binge. I’m also overdue for some quality time with my exercise bike, as a recent encounter with a full-body hotel mirror reminded me.

But I’ll also do something that’s very important to me: I’ll keep writing. And revising. And looking at my really old novels and short stories to find the things that I need to improve upon, thanks to the assistance of a fresh eye and a cold read.

We tend to get busy in the last few weeks of December with holiday parties and shopping and family events. And those things, to be sure, are good. But if you’ve got the soul of a writer, I encourage you to give yourself a mini-retreat this December. Curl up with a manuscript or plot your next literary adventure. Get away from it all — we’ll have plenty of open office hours if you need a base away from home — and just write.

A self-directed writer’s retreat, even if lasts just one marathon day, can help you get your bearings for the year to come and to re-acquaint you with your portfolio.

Give yourself the gift of quality time with your word babies. You won’t regret it!

A Writing Retreat
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