A few years ago, when Karen Joy Fowler was in Eugene, she said that she is a horrible procrastinator in her day-to-day writing habit, often frittering her time away and getting little writing done at all. I thought I detected a self-deprecating tall tale (of which I am expert) and asked how this was possible when she had written so many books. Her answer: “Writing residencies.” At that point, I’d never been to a residency, so I still thought she was exaggerating for the sake of a good story (of which I am also expert).
Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to go to Playa twice, and the experience both times was transformative, in terms of the intensity of the creative process and the productivity. When I read this in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow - “When we choose a goal and invest ourselves in it to the limits of concentration, whatever we do will be enjoyable. And once we have tasted this joy, we will redouble our efforts to taste it again. This is the way the self grows.” - I immediately thought of residencies. They push me to invest in my writing to the limits of my concentration, and indeed, I tasted joy and redoubled my effort to taste it again since, this time all the way to Nebraska City.