Recently I was talking to some friends about writing retreats. The dedicated writing time with like minded people and a focus on a particular aspect of writing is something we could all do with. There are many opportunities out there from Bali, the Blue Mountains and even Hobart.
I attended a “Writing the Senses” retreat in Bali with Patti Miller a couple of years ago. It was fantastic but it is not something I can afford to do more than once. The cost of a writing retreat is sometimes just too much.
Last year I had the idea to plan my own retreat.
I contacted a writing buddy and she was keen to join me. The initial plan was for 2 or 3 days, and then we were both able to get some leave and stretched it out to 5 days.
We found a little house within an hour’s drive of home, just in case, that was isolated enough and started preparations. The just in case is because I have a young daughter and she was more willing to wave me off knowing I was only an hour away if she really needed me.
The house was fully equipped, in the middle of a property with lots of space and fresh air and no distractions. It had a phone that could only be called in to and as it turned out no mobile phone reception or internet and that reduced the possible distractions further.
Most writing retreats combine classes with individual writing time. Given that I was dictating what I would be doing during the day I needed to ensure I had everything I would need to keep me writing.
Before setting off for the retreat itself, I needed to plan what I would be doing, and what to take with me. I was working on an edit of my fantasy manuscript and after thinking about the options decided that it would be the only project to work on over the time away.
I took with me:
- Laptop, with current work in progress (WIP), and chargers
- Print out of the last half of my current WIP – because I edit better than way
- Notebook and journal
- Favourite pen
- Small whiteboard, coloured markers for mind-mapping
- Reference books.
All of this fitted neatly into a crate in the back of the car.
We shopped on the way for meals and snacks and so once we arrived at the house we didn’t need to leave again. And the house was perfect. It had two large bedrooms with a bathroom each, comfy couches and a large dining table. The kitchen was completely set up and although my buddy brought her coffee machine, we didn’t really need anything else.
All we had to do then was write – and we did – loads of it.
We were able to move around between couches and the table, work off laptops or paper. Solid writing with very little distraction. If one of us put the kettle on, then we offered the other a drink and went back to it. We snacked as we liked, ate when we wanted and wrote/edited for 12 to 14 hours a day.
It was perfect and I achieved so much over those days, including finishing the current edit of my manuscript and completing another read through.
I came away empowered, fulfilled and keen to do more. We have already discussed the timing for next year’s retreat and we think we will stay at the same place again.
If you can’t find a week for your own retreat, try a weekend, or even an extended lunch hour once a week at a different cafe…