In Praise of the “lockdown”

padlockI had been working on the revision of my manuscript, The Talking Drum, for the past two and a half years. It was 75 percent rewritten, but I just couldn’t find blocks of time to power through the rest of it. I’d find an hour here or there at the end of the day at the library or the coffee shop, but by the time I’d familiarize myself all over again with my characters, plot, and subplots, the place would be closing for the evening.  I’d get home only to have the TV and the refrigerator vying for the privilege of distracting me.

Then an idea occurred to me. I decided to go into “lockdown mode.” I found an affordable hotel with just the bare amenities in a boring town in driving distance from home and booked myself a room for an extended weekend. To save money I packed nonperishable food items –peanut butter came in real handy. When I got to the room I tossed the TV remote into the safe and forced myself not to turn on the wi-fi. I flipped open my laptop, pulled out my notes and wrote for four days until my eyeballs felt like sandpaper.

Despite my discomfort, I felt good when I walked out of that hotel bleary eyed and squinting at the sun, because I had achieved my goal.

I know that lockdowns are popular at writing centers. Grub Street writing center, for example, in Boston conducts a lockdown every so often. For a small fee, members can be locked into the classrooms of Grub Street. They write until the lockdown concludes without the distraction of family, friends, or electronic temptations.

Funny. I was telling a friend about my lockdown. She’s a busy mother of young children. She has a fulfilling career and is going for an advanced degree. She suggested that writers aren’t the only ones who could benefit from a lockdown. She began toying with the idea herself.