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
the Go Teen Writers paperback becoming available,
and the launching of a new contest,
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 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:
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.