The idea behind our retreat is that members can devote as much of their day to writing. We hire a large self-catering property, giving us all plenty of room to spread out and write. Several of the group are currently tackling NaNoWriMo, so were able to increase their word counts significantly. We have few rules on our retreats.
- You get up ... when you want.
- You get your own breakfast ... when you want.
- You get your own midday snack ... when you want.
- But we all eat together in the evening.
- Nobody is forced to do any writing ... although this is such a wonderful opportunity everybody does! (And there is something to be said about the guilt factor, if everyone is writing and you're not!)
By 9.30am, I'd written nearly 800 words and was clear what my ending was going to be and how I would achieve this. My reward was breakfast! If I were at home, others in the household would be shouting, "The kettle's on, do you want a cup of tea?" or "Are you having breakfast this morning?" On retreat, you're free to do what you want, when you want, or rather, when it is convenient for your writing. After breakfast, I went back to my room and finished the rest of the story.
After the walk, I returned to my room, where I typed up my short story and undertook a basic first edit. Others were tackling edits for their publishers, or structuring the outline for a new children's book, ploughing on with NaNoWriMo, or plotting a new poem. And the benefit of being surrounded by other writers is that you can ask writerly questions. Several retreats ago, one member said, "What's a better way of saying glutimus maximus?" to which the other seven writers in the room, all replied simultaneously, "arse!" With help like that on retreat, you can't go wrong can you?
At the end of a 'normal' day - plan a 'different' writing day:
- Decide what you're going to write about.
- Decide where you're going to write - in a different room at home, in the garden (if it's warm enough), in the local library, or at a cafe.
- Make sure you have everything you need with you - pens, notebooks, research material. You don't want to have to keep nipping back to your usual writing place.
- Treat yourself to 'special' drinks. Don't make instant coffee, have a latte, ground or percolated coffee. Or instead of Sainsburys Red Label tea, have an Earl Grey.
Start off small, with an morning, or afternoon retreat, and you may surprise yourself with what you achieve. Do it once, and you'll soon find yourself planning the next. On my retreat, I managed 3,000 words over the weekend. And now, sitting back at my writing desk, I feel completely refreshed.