I had the honor and privilege of attending a writer’s retreat this past Labor Day weekend. 15 artists were carefully selected to participate in the retreat at the historic Sturtevant Camp in Sierra Madre, CA.
The most exciting and unforgettable part of the weekend was when I saved the entire group from a dangerous bear! I was writing in my journal when I heard screams coming from the dining room hall. I quickly summoned up my inner Brooklyn and charged towards the dining hall. When I entered the dining hall, I saw that a bear had cornered some of the group members. They were terrified and holding onto each other for dear life.
I whistled confidently and the bear turned around. We looked at each other dead in the eye. I was cool as fuck while the bear growled and huffed and puffed. The bear charged towards me and I wrestled him to the ground with my bare hands. I picked him up and body slammed him. I put the Stunner on him, the Codebreaker on him, the Leg Drop, the Elbow Drop, the Tombstone Piledriver, the Perfect Plex, the Go To Sleep, the Figure Four Leg Lock, the Sharpshooter, etc. Hugh Glass has nothing on me! I pinned the bear down onto the floor, the referee quickly came out and yelled out, “1, 2, 3!” The bell went “Ding! Ding! Ding!” and the crowd leapt to their feet in thunderous applause.
The referee came over and handed me the World Heavyweight Championship Title Belt. He raised my arm in victory!!!
Okay, okay, that didn’t happen!
But what DID happen was an incredible experience I will always cherish in my heart. The writer’s retreat was informative, empowering, fun, creative and spiritual at times. Through a loosely-structured program, I learned creative and fun ways to generate pitches and story ideas. I re-discovered classic improv games that I did in the past to free myself as an actor, but now, discovered that I could also use them to free myself as a writer. I also learned some cool business and industry tidbits.
When I accepted the invitation to attend the retreat, I wanted to be clear and intentional as to why I was going. In this way, I could really get the most out of the retreat weekend. My intention was to unplug from everything. Literally. There was no cell phone reception, no WiFi, no electrical outlets anywhere. All you had was your imagination and a heightened awareness of your senses because of the lack of technology. I really had an opportunity to hear things, to see things and smell things. I really had an opportunity to connect with amazing people through one-on-one and group conversations. I really had an opportunity to just be with nature. My intention was to unplug and allow the muse and the universe to speak to me.
On Sunday-after our workshop ended that focused on how to generate story ideas-we all had an opportunity to split off for two hours and just focus on ourselves and what we wanted to do in those two hours. I found a cool rock to sit on, opened my journal and started with the basics of writing, “Once upon a time…” (Thank you Eddie for taking us back to basic and classic storytelling!) I started with that simple sentence and the words began to flow out of me. Eventually, I moved over to a picnic table and continued writing. By the time the two hours were up, I had outlined a new half-hour television pilot! I unplugged and the muse and the universe spoke to me.
The muse and the universe also spoke to me when I wrote a four-page letter to God about who I am as an artist.
The muse and the universe continued speaking to me when I signed up for a late afternoon workshop on building fairy houses! Yes, you heard that correctly! Using leaves, branches, pinecones and any other things you find in the forest, you build your very own fairy house-because even fairies need a home to live in. What a great way to be creative again! To have fun and think outside the box. I built a spa for the fairies and called it the Lindsay Hopper Spa Center For Fairies. With this concept in mind, I was able to construct a spa center for fairies. Everything I used in the construction of the spa meant something. The branches meant something, the leaves meant something, the rocks meant something, etc. It was a great way to exercise another part of my creative mind. And a great opportunity for me to follow my first impression with good-humored inflexibility (Meaning, your first thought is genius. Go with your first impulse and see it to the end. Don’t talk yourself out of it and don’t let anyone else talk you out of it.)
That weekend was magical. I had an experience. And when I got back to LA, I slowly integrated myself back into technology. I didn’t want to rush back into technology. As a matter of fact, one of the first things I did was listen to music and dance.
I really do believe that outflow equals inflow. What you put out there is what you get back. My intention to unplug allowed me to walk away with the outline of a new half-hour television pilot. AND, when I got home, I received two emails from talent agents that wanted to meet with me.
The group had talked about getting together again in a month (at either someone’s house or at a restaurant) to do a follow up on what’s new, to see if we applied any of the lessons we learned from the retreat out into the real world, where we are professionally, etc. I would really love that to happen!
See you next week!
Chasing The George.