Solo Camping

2018-07-12T21:55:05+00:00By |

I spent a week solo camping, as a way to kick start my writing this summer. I viewed solo camping as a “Writing Retreat.”

Constant Companion: Chubbers, an Australian Shepherd-Husky Mix. Constant Companion: Chubbers, an Australian Shepherd-Husky Mix.

Constant Companion: Chubbers, an Australian Shepherd-Husky Mix.
Constant Companion: Chubbers, an Australian Shepherd-Husky Mix.

Confession: I wasn’t alone. I brought my constant companion, my dog, Chubbers. My husband and the cat can get along without me for a few days. She can’t.

Feeling ambitious, I took half a dozen books with me. I finished three: a short biography of Jules Verne, an illustrated history about Charles Darwin, and a Jon Krakauer bestseller.

I also wrote 10,000 words on my new book, a fluffy, fictional novel that completes a series I created several years ago.

Reading well-written, nonfiction books about interesting people makes it difficult to justify writing fluff fiction. The problems my current character faces is not on par with starvation and death in the Alaskan wilderness, like Krakauer’s “Into the Wild.”

My book’s plot does not involve a fabulous adventure, like Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” or “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.”

Solo camping means lots of time to read books, including "Darwin's Notebook."

Solo camping means lots of time to read books, including “Darwin’s Notebook.”

I have experienced a bit of writer’s procrastination, like Darwin did, in completing and publishing this sixth, and final, book in my series. Darwin, however, did not complete his manuscript and publish in a timely way because he had an earth-shattering theory that denigrated the world view (which included his wife, Emma’s) of God as the architect of all life. I avoided working on my manuscript because I’m bored with the topic.

As writers, our job is to push on, despite our personal feelings and ennui.

I have dozens of ideas for books. I’m impatient to write them, but books are like cattle in a squeeze chute. I’m only able work on one at a time. My brain won’t corral these ideas, though. They’re like horses with post positions, each one racing to the finish line.

To quiet these ideas, I went away, camping alone for a five days. I removed myself from my mobile phone and the Internet, from friends and family and Facebook. My only distraction doesn’t speak, and she’s content to sit by my side, quiet and patient as I listen to my muse.

And when I couldn’t sit still and listen, we took long walks.

Being alone allowed me to focus. Being focused allowed me to punch out 10K words in five days. It worked because I made it work. If I made it work there, I can make it work here, and that’s the lesson I have to take away

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About the Author:

Robin Van Auken, CEO of Hands on Heritage, is a writer and researcher, with 35+ years experience interviewing people and telling stories. Her educational background combines advanced degrees in Communications and Anthropology, with a focus on Public and Historical (Military/Industrial Sites) Archaeology. In addition to her work as a journalist, she is the author and co-author of a dozen books on regional history. An adjunct college instructor, she has directed multi-year historical and archaeological projects, working with hundreds of volunteers and temporary staff, and educating thousands of visitors.