2016 Writing Retreat Report

2016 Wiring RetreatThis year was a disaster – for a start my writing buddy left the cottage, actually went outside, to walk in the fresh air every day, and exercise. I found the break with tradition distressing. And I should have joined her.

But other than that, we actually got quite a lot done. As always, I came away with the feeling that I could have done a little more, but then I did complete what I planned to: the final edit of Raven’s Dawn. It was such a relief to get it finished and ready for beta-readers on my return to the real world.

There were some odd little things that popped up. As I read through the last of it before the final edit on the first day I discovered a problem. I had cut an earlier scene that had a key point that carried through the rest of the series. In a late scene in the book when someone refers to what was said earlier I realised the mistake, for the earlier comment no longer existed. I made a note, found where it use to be in an earlier draft and carried on.

I worked hard through the last edit, moving slowly through each chapter and then revising it as a whole before moving on to the next one. Some only took half an hour or so, others took much longer. But I was happy, the story was working well, the characters appeared on the page as they appeared in my head. Little typos and strange punctuation were tidied up.

And then I swore.

I had come across the same problem. I still hadn’t inserted the conversation into the story to fix my little error. I just needed a couple of lines. I had inserted a new scene with the key characters and so I went back and inserted the required dialogue into that conversation. Re-read. And yes it flowed. Or at least it appeared to.

I finished the edit to elation and fist pumps and a little happy dance that I won’t subject you to again. But I was sure it wasn’t too bad, it might even be good. I have put quite a lot of work into this, although not quite at the pace I could have, but it was a good story and I was happy.

Fingers crossed the beta-readers feel the same.

I realised on that last day of the retreat, that I was so keen to get the work done that I hadn’t even photographed the first day set up as I did every year. But you can be assured that despite my writing buddy’s deviance from tradition, we did sit on the same sides of the kitchen table we did every year, we gravitated to the same couches and despite my offer to change it up, we had our usual rooms (mine musk, hers green).

The kitchen table on the last morning.
The kitchen table on the last morning.

We discussed families and frustrations, American grammar and whether we should be writing toward a particular continent; as well as other projects that would bring in the cash so that we could live our dream and write full time.

Despite talk of trying somewhere different, we feel comfortable there. It is our own little hideaway, that isn’t quite as deeply buried in the bush as I originally thought, but it is distraction free. I didn’t have to worry about the kids or the cats, the ballet exams and the piles of washing. I could concentrate on just the writing and that is what I did. I may have consumed too much sugar and maybe a little more wine than my usual weekend. But I got to live in my pj’s for a few days, sleep well, soak in the bath or simply tie back my crazy curls and sit on the couch with the laptop.

We are going back next year. We’ve already decided. Although, my mother threatened my life is she had to supervise participation in another classical ballet exam; we might just need to double check the dates before we book.

Planning for My 2016 Writing Retreat

Last year's retreat Day 1
Last year’s retreat Day 1

It is time to start preparations for our annual writing retreat. This will be our fourth year away and I think we have it reasonably well organised.

Each year our time away grew and so did the amount of stuff we took with us. But then every year we bring just as much food home as we took – or so it seems. This year we are away for four nights and we are just taking what we know we will use.

In previous years I have taken note books, text books, white boards and far too many pens. This year I am just taking my Raven Crown Series note book, white board and laptop (plus relevant chargers). Other than the writing supplies we don’t need too much, and we get to live in our pj’s for the whole time we are away. Wine and treats is all we need to plan.

Despite the talk of chocolate we are going away to write, and my main aim for this retreat is the Raven Crown Series.

 

Raven Crown Book 1 – Raven’s Dawn

I want to finish it as best I can. My current edit has got it reasonably close but there is still some work to do.

I have booked a slot in with the proof reader for my return so the pressure is on and I’m hoping to have my beta group ready to go.

 

Raven Crown Book 2 – The Caged Raven

I have been working on the first edit, as I drafted all three together.

It runs directly on from book one but I am still working through scene order and finding the plot holes (some of which are huge).

If all going well and I get my work completed (fingers and toes crossed) for Raven’s Dawn, I’ll spend the remainder of my time on this edit.

 

I always say that I should journal more, but never do. While I’m away at the retreat I do at least keep a very good record of what I do and how it is or is not working. As I am electronically isolated while away, I have a great record to create a report for you about the retreat on my return.

I’m so excited. I always come back refreshed and energised despite hours of writing. It strengthens the writing muscles after all.

11 Tips to Get You Reading More

11 tips to reading more

I recently realised that I’m not reading as much as I would like. It was a sad realisation that I had taken nearly two weeks with my current book and I wasn’t even near the middle yet.

I have been focused on my own writing projects of late and then falling into bed. But I miss other people’s writing and tv doesn’t count.

So after some research in how to find more reading time, or at least make some, I have come up with the following list:

 

  1. Book a regular reading time

Block it out in your diary or plan to read the same time every day, like 15 min before bed.

 

  1. Read what you want to read and not what you think you should.

There is a whole world of classics that everyone says you should read but if you aren’t enjoying the book the whole process is slowed down (part of my current reading problem). There are too many books and not enough time. If you aren’t enjoying it, put it down, pick up another.

 

  1. Try a book group or club

This way you need to finish a book by the deadline to discuss it. A little pressure can help sometimes. If you don’t like the idea of meeting up with a group of strangers pull a group of your friends together and create your own.

 

  1. Join a review group

Similarly to point #3, deadlines help. The pressure of promising a review can ensure you make the time to read.

 

  1. Read more than one book at a time

I don’t like this idea unless you were reading fiction/non fiction. Maybe reading different books at different times – fiction before bed, non-fiction on the trip to work

 

  1. Read across digital devices

I love this; that my phone will remember where I left off on my kindle last night. And then when I snuggle into bed with the Kindle, it picks up where I left off on my phone.

 

  1. Set a reading goal

Set yourself a challenge. You can use Goodreads to track how you are going. This is something I use to do but haven’t in a while and when I signed up to Goodreads I was too scared to pick a number. Time to add some pressure.

 

  1. Squeeze in two minutes

Lunch time, morning tea, advert breaks on the tv ( I did this recently when I switched from Netflix back to live tv and forgot just how long the ad breaks were!). Using digital devices can help with this (point #6). I often catch up on a chapter while waiting for my travelling buddy when heading to off-site meetings.

 

  1. Catch the bus or train to work.

Long journeys are a great opportunity to read. If public transport is out, take a long drive and let someone else do the driving.

 

  1. For those driving try Audio books.

Or while you are doing the ironing. I haven’t tried this yet, but mostly because I would love to listen in the car and I’m sure my daughter would talk through it or switch it off. I’m also looking into this option for future publishing options.

 

  1. Have fun!

This is the most important one on the list – enjoy the opportunity to disappear into another world.