Thursday, March 14, 2013

5 Things I Learned on My Writing Retreat

by Stephanie Morrill

It's hard to believe that I've been home for a week, but I haven't yet had a chance to talk about my writing retreat. But with

Me, Just Different being a free download on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com,
the Go Teen Writers paperback becoming available,

I just haven't been able to squeeze it in until today.

Two weeks ago, I caught a plane to Baltimore for a writing retreat with Roseanna White, who's a frequent guest blogger on Go Teen Writers, my critique partner, and my best friend for the last 5ish years.

Roseanna rented us a cabin in the mountains of Maryland, pretty close to where she lives.



After lunch at Five Guys and a grocery run, we basically barred ourselves in the cabin and wrote.


And wrote.


And wrote.


And wrote.


And wrote.


And then got up early on the day of my flight home and wrote some more.

After Friday night, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday morning, we had both written just over 35,000 words. And we had learned that very odd muscles in your body start to ache when you've been typing for that long. 

Here's what we learned from our writing retreat experience that might benefit you should you plan one:


  1. It was totally worth it. I tend to be kind of a loner when I write (I'm not a #1k1hr girl, nor am I real chatty about my first drafts) so I honestly had some questions about how well I would work across the table from someone - even someone I love as much as Roseanna. While I could have holed up in my office all weekend for a much cheaper writing retreat, I know I wouldn't have gotten as much done because:
  2. The encouragement and motivation is unbelievable. On our first full day, we discovered that we write at a similar pace (Roseanna's a bit faster than I am) and we could do about 10,000 words. On the third full day, I thought I might even be on pace for a 12,000 word day because it was only 8:30 and I had over 9,000 words already! And then I realized I counted wrong, and I really only had 8,000. Which is obviously a fine word count for a day, but it knocked the momentum out of me. Had I been alone, I would have called it a day and grumbled about it the rest of the night. Because Roseanna was there and was on pace to hit 10k, I pushed myself to brush it off and go for 10k too.
  3. It's ideal to go with someone who works in a similar environment as you. Roseanna and I both have small kids to take care of and looming deadlines, which means both of us were very motivated to work. We also both prefer working in silence, so music and the TV stayed off the entire time.
  4. Set goals and a schedule ahead of time. Neither of us knew how much we could actually write in that amount of time, but we knew we wanted to do a lot. We had discussed ahead of time that we would eat most our meals in the cabin (we had a kitchenette) and that maybe we would take a walk and brainstorm sometimes but that mostly we would write. I think it helped a lot that we went into the retreat with the same expectations.
  5. Reward yourself for a job well done. On our last day, my flight didn't leave until about 4. We wanted to drive to the city in time for lunch, though, so we decided to get up early and have one last writing sprint before loading up the car. We both wrote around 2,000 words that morning before 8:00, and then we drove to Annapolis, where we had a guilt-free lunch and stroll around the very cute downtown.
Roseanna was kind about letting me take a thousand pictures of the boats and the bay and everything. I'm a Kansas girl. We don't have this stuff.

Our lunch place. It's in Roseanna's book Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland  so of course we had to eat there!
Next year it'll be Roseanna's turn to come out my way. There won't be a beautiful bay or mountains, but there will be coffee and lots of words, so I think we'll still manage to have a good time.

16 comments:

  1. Cool! Sounds like y'all had a great time. :D Glad you enjoyed it!

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  2. That looks awesome! My mom said that in the spring I can go up for a WEEK to a lake house that is in my book. I am super excited to sit and write in quiet.

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  3. Yep, now we know that if we ever move to Hawaii, we can totally share an office like we pretend we someday will. ;-)

    I also loved that we could do instant, two-minute brainstorming. What I might agonize over for an hour on my own was solved by Stephanie's quick "Maybe she finds a photograph."

    Maybe in another decade when the kids are all older, we can manipulate our way into twice a year, one for each book due. =) Nothing like making a month's normal progress in a weekend!!

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  4. Wow... Can't believe that works! :D The most I can whip out in a day is 4k... And that's rare. I would LOVE to try this someday.

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  5. Maybe next year you need to book a massage at the end! It sounds so fun. How did you get the pictures of the two of you taken ?

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    1. Stephanie's camera has a timer, LOL. She had the third chair set up as her tripod, with a box on top of it for that perfect angle. And I laughed at her every time she set it up. ;-)

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    2. And I think I only tripped once when racing back to my seat!

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    3. Oh, I would fall! That's awesome : )

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  6. Looks like you had a great time!
    I'd love to try something like that one day, just to see how much I could get done. Maybe someday :)

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  7. I'm so jealous! Once after a writing event, my flight got delayed, like, six hours. And author R.J. Larson was there too. So she and I sat across from each other at the gate and had a word war. It was fun. The idea of doing this for a whole weekend is totally thrilling. Must do this. Must. lol

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  8. That sounds like so much fun!
    One day my writing buddies and I will do this...one day...
    *starts singing One Day More*
    theteaspitters.blogspot.com

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  9. Oh, I'd love to do this! And I seem to push 1K an hour too, so that's encouraging for me. ;) I think I would go for a beach though (except I'd probably spend too much time walking). The pictures are awesome!! Congrats on getting so much done!

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  10. I'm jealous. I want a writing retreat with my crit partner. Now if only my life will slow down enough for me to find the time. Glad the two of you had fun, though. :-)

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  11. Awh this is so great to read. Sounds like a great way to motivate yourself to write on!

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  12. Wow! That sounds like so much fun! :) Nothing like getting away in a cabin and writing. I did that for the first few days of my family's vacation, and even though I was doing it alone, it was still fun and very rewarding.

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  13. That is so AWESOME! Oh that actually looks the most fun. Except I'd need to go for a run in the morning. Eek that's fantastic.

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