As many of you know, I hosted a writing retreat in Nashua, NH, on September 20, 2014. It was a wonderful day and I’m so glad I did it. I’m already planning my next retreat.
The most surprising thing about the day, for me, was how much of my own writing I got done. I’ve hosted many writing retreats in the past and I don’t usually get too many words of my own on the page. This time, I did.
Being in a room with a group of writers, in a structured setting, turned out to be an ideal way for me to be able to get past my “gremlins” and get down to the business of writing.
I felt supported by the other writers in the room and inspired by them. If they could take time out of their varied and busy lives to make writing a priority, then so could I.
Back in January of 2014, I went on a different kind of writing retreat. A friend and I went up north and stayed at a condo in the mountains for a few days. I got a lot of writing done then, but it was very different. Having had both experiences in the same year, there are some things I will do differently the next time I go on a solitary (or unstructured) writing retreat.
- I will plan smaller blocks of time to write with breaks in-between, especially at the beginning of the retreat as this seems to “prime the pump” for me.
- I will give myself concrete assignments for each block of writing time—even if that assignment is “Do a 10 minute flow writing exercise,” which could take me anywhere.
- I will plan time to talk about my writing process—what’s working and what’s not, either in my journal or with my writing companion.
- I will assess my WIP at the beginning of the writing retreat and again at the end (for a multi-day writing retreat.)
There are also some things I will do differently for my next structured writing retreat, but they mostly involve non-writing issues, so I won’t detail them here.
Every bulleted item on my list above is something I can do in my regular life as well. Maybe Mondays I’ll do more writing prompts and flow writing, and later in the week I’ll focus more on my WIP. I’m going to play around with what I’ve learned from this latest writing retreat and apply it to my daily life, where I often have my journal open on the kitchen counter or my laptop set up at the kitchen table.
One other thing I learned (again) from this writing retreat: writers write. All the writers in the room with me on September 20th, had one thing in common: We wrote.
What are you writing right now?
Diane MacKinnon, MD: is a writer, blogger, mother and stepmother. I’m trying to post this while cooking dinner and fending off a 4-year-old who can’t wait another 10 minutes to eat dinner, but it’s all good. He’s into the pot cupboard and deciding which “shield” works the best for him right now. Happy writing!