Sunday, February 24, 2013

How to Take a Successful Writing Retreat

I have said it before and I'll say it again, I have some amazing friends in my life.  Right now I am sitting in a cozy cottage in the woods for a weekend to total writing abandon.  I have the place to myself; no tv, no radio, no phone, no family, no laundry, no...anything.

Except I have a cell phone, a laptop, a kitchen, my iPod,  my Kindle and enough food to feel a small family of four for a weekend.  

I like to be prepared.

This is my third retreat and each time I come away feeling accomplished and refreshed and more than blessed for the time I was given.  The first two retreats I did were during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) times so I had a definite writing goal in mind.  This time around it is all about working on SEVERAL writing projects.

To prepare for the weekend I had to gather all of my files that I would need from my desktop and move them to the laptop.  I had to pack clothes (primarily pajamas because I intended to be VERY lazy and casual), pack up enough food for the weekend so that there would be no middle-of-the-night Taco Bell runs (I don't do it at home but for some reason it becomes HIGHLY appealing during a retreat!) and all of the tools I will need to get my projects done over the course of a weekend.

I left for work on Friday morning and loaded my car.  During my lunch break I ran to Target and got some last minute items.  After work I ran to the grocery store to get the last-LAST minute items I couldn't find at the Target and then grabbed some Chinese take-out and I was off.

It was pouring raining and after four trips to the car, all of my belongings were in the cabin and I was ready to retreat.  I sat down, opened my dinner and pulled up something to watch on the laptop.  Really, who needs a TV these days?  Then I got serious.  I put on my jammies and got comfortable and at 6:40 I began to tackle the first of six projects I had outlined for the weekend.  By 11:45 I had completed two of them and was ready to crash.  It was sweet to have the whole bed to myself and no alarm to set.

Saturday dawned - still raining.  There's something soothing about writing with nothing but the sound of the rain.  I set up again, had something to eat while playing some Scrabble on Facebook and then started to write. 

To my son.

Back and forth.

On Facebook.


This was so NOT going as planned.  Don't get me wrong, I had accomplished two huge projects the night before and yet I couldn't get into the groove.  I played more Scrabble with a friend, played some Solitaire, talked to my husband on the phone, ate some lunch and then said, THAT'S IT!  I'm getting serious now.  So I took out the papers that my agent sent back to me (I LOVE saying "my agent") and pulled up the file I had loaded on to the laptop and got ready to edit and...

I had uploaded the wrong file.


Okay, now I call my husband because I need to vent and we end up arguing about something completely different.  Why am I even at this retreat???  I mean, I am getting NOTHING done!  Like ever!  I finally get off the phone with him and hide the phone so that I am NOT tempted to call anyone and then cross that one project off of the list and move on to tackle another one.  "Write Three Blogs".  This is number two so hey, I'm making progress.  

I have a full-length novel that is completed to edit and I am writing another novella so that will give me plenty to do for the rest of the night.  I don't plan on leaving here until the late afternoon tomorrow so I think by the time I am ready to go I should be almost 100% finished with my list.

The most important thing to keep in mind when doing a retreat like this?  Don't sweat the small stuff.  I grabbed the wrong file, I had to move on.  There were plenty of other projects to work on and it's just a matter of being flexible and getting my brain wrapped around a different one while not eating all of the food that I brought with me.

Still in my jammies...

Still loving it...

No comments: