Finding My Inner Author: My Experience at a Tom Bird Retreat-Epilogue

Monday, April 04, 2011

I brought you along on my journey to find my inner author at a Tom Bird Write Your Book in 5 Days Retreat in Sedona, AZ. You’ve read about my initial struggles as I searched for my “writer” and my jubilation when I found my novel. I’m home now and integrating what I learned from Tom into my daily life. For those of you who are wondering, I did not finish my novel. Let me add though, that I was one of five people out of thirty-five who did not finish.

The term “novel” is a loose concept at Tom’s retreats. His intent is to help us change the way we connect with our writing. One person’s “novel” might be a 90 page pamphlet on personal finance, another’s might be a 300 page book on dealing with grief. What matters is the connection to your soul when you are writing, not the length of the work.

Opening this connection to the soul or heart can cause some participants to go through difficult experiences as the gunk standing in their way comes to the surface. The blockage can be a traumatic experience that seems completely unrelated or a self belief deep down inside that you are undeserving of success. Other people, like the lady who lost her entire manuscript, have lessons to learn about trust. That woman learned that the book was truly inside of her and could not be lost. She found the courage to begin again and finished a novel with 52,000 words.

Whatever your gunk is, Tom will help you through it—he will pull that novel out of you and the gunk along with it! Perhaps it is better that my experience was not as smooth as I’d hoped so that, should you attend one of Tom’s retreats and begin to have a bumpy journey, you will know that it is somewhat expected. My gunk came out in a very physical way; if it hadn’t been for Lori Zeltwanger at Advanced Release Therapy I don’t know what I would have done. She kept me going when I was certain I was falling apart. If you are ever anywhere near Sedona I highly recommend a visit with Lori.

Would I do it again?


What did I bring back with me?

A new connection to my author within and a new set of priorities. I used to begin every day by grabbing a cup of tea and turning on my email. I now sit quietly and work on my book before I do anything else. There is no email so important that it can’t wait 15 or 20 minutes. That is the promise I made to myself—15 minutes or 500 words minimum. With the technique learned at Tom’s retreat the writing just flows!

I also returned home slightly transformed and, since my family did not take this journey with me there, is an adjustment period. That is okay though, I prefer the new me--the challenge is holding on to the glow when others would rather you dim the lights. For this reason I suggest that if you are in a relationship, encourage your partner to sit in on the preparatory webinars with you before you attend the retreat. Even better—have them take the course with you!

Who would benefit from this workshop?

  • Anyone stuck in writer’s block or those with no time to finish project

  • Someone who wants to write a memoir but doesn’t know how or what to include

  • If you are emotionally closed down or find your characters are flat

  • This would also be a great gift idea for a college student.

Learn more about Tom’s retreat in my upcoming review for WOW-Women On Writing.

Robyn Chausse

Visit Tom's website to sign up for a retreat or download a free webinar.

Use these links to read the previous posts in this series.

Preparing for the retreat: First, Second, Third.


Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

I was skeptical about Tom's approach at first - closing your eyes and breathing, feet flat on the floor, for 10 -15 minutes, then open eyes and write! I was amazed that stuff actually just came out. Afterward, I actually followed his protocol of 2 hours a day, write-write-write without stopping, without thinking. Again, amazed at the stuff that just comes. Very worthwhile!

The Sensible Seamstress said...

I really appreciate your sharing all this. I have signed up for the retreat for June, and am glad to know a bit more about what I might experience.

Robyn Chausse said...

Hello Seamstress,
How exciting! You will have a fantastic experience.
I am currently working on a formal review for WOW! which will include bits of information from interviews with "graduates" of Tom's retreat. It should be published the first part of May.

Angela Artemis said...

Hi Robyn,
I found your article on TDBS~! Yes, I would do it again too! I've been working on editing my manuscript and so far I'm very pleased with it. Tom rocks!

Robyn Chausse said...

Hi Angela,
The Daily Brainstorm--I like your articles on intuition!
Tom has a couple ways to cut costs for returning students; an affiliate program and mentorship. Details are on his website:)

Peter Remondino said...

Robyn - The only criticism I have regarding your review(s) is that is was TOO SHORT! I attended the same retreat you did. I was shocked that while reading your posts I began to relive the entire retreat. I had forgotten about all the emotions and "gunk" and baggage as I complete my own editing. I actually found myself getting choked up remembering it all. Thanks for the reminder of the "inner" work surrounding writing.

Robyn Chausse said...

Hi Peter!
Nice to hear from you!
Hard to believe we could ever forget those first few days... Congrats on your book!

Lori Howell said...

Thank you for sharing. I am planning to attend Tom Bird's retreat in August, but honestly I am scared that I will be the only one that will leave unsuccessful. I am now applying Tom's method on my first novel that I've committed to being complete by July 31st. You sharing has inspired me to hang in there and to have faith in myself and to be open to a new way of writing.

Robyn Chausse said...

Hi Lori,

I understand the fear of leaving unsuccessful; I think each person attending brings with them that same fear. There really is no way to leave "unsuccessful" though. If your intent is to grow yourself personally and as a writer, I guarantee you will come away from the retreat with new knowledge. Will you have a finished book? Most likely!
If not, have you failed? No.
The only failure is giving up. If you do not finish the book at the retreat you will simply continue at home. There is no failure here. To be successful all you need to do is keep your promise to yourself that you will keep writing, even after the retreat. I KNOW you will be successful!

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