Say Yes to the Mini Retreat

Writing tends to be a lonely business, and I find I work best in those circumstances. I don’t mind being by myself, although I’m not always at my most productive when I am home alone in front of my computer. Facebook, youtube? Don’t mind if I do!
Productivity at home tends to happen when I’m not at my desk, walking on my treadmill or supposed to be sleeping. 10:15 pm seems to be the magic hour when my eyelids will barely stay open, but the words won’t stop flowing.
I have gone to a few writing retreats, even a couple with Patricia. While I expected to be phenomenally productive, having two to three days of uninterrupted writing time, I probably wasn’t anymore productive than I would have been at home… at least before my children were born. The last one I went to I was four months pregnant with my youngest, and she had already made it so there was no comfortable position to sit. A longer retreat may be different now.
One writers’ retreat I attended had only one other attendee. We met for meals, but spend the majority of our time working in our hotel rooms. I wrote much of the end of A Penny Saved there. I also watched many, many episodes of Say Yes to the Dress. I even managed a couple runs. The problem there being that when the hotel is at the top of a ski hill, it’s a long uphill to get back to the resort.
Occasionally my critique group does mini retreats. Usually we meet each week to chat and critique, but sometimes when deadlines are pressing, we meet to work instead. We might only  have two hours which can be a good chunk of time to get something done. Other times we mostly talk and don’t get a lot of words on the page.
Last winter, Tess Grant and I tried to meet every couple weeks for the sole purpose of putting our butts in the chair and getting something done. We were both at a low point in our motivation and thought scheduling a time to write would help. It did help to get the ball rolling, although our first meeting was disastrous for me. I somehow deleted my Bigfoot manuscript and couldn’t get it back. Serves me right for naming the file after a mythological creature.
I think the most productive mini retreats/ critique groups are the brainstorming ones. We can spend a couple hours tossing around ideas for a novel. After one of those meetings is when you need a couple hours of quiet time to get all those ideas done and maybe outlined. I usually feel energized and excited to work. Unfortunately those days don’t tend to be the ones where I have a free afternoon.
I’ve found retreats can be quite productive if you define productivity in other ways than word count.

About Joselyn

SAHM writing romance with at a case of the giggles. Former librarian. Avid reader. Runner.
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9 Responses to Say Yes to the Mini Retreat

  1. Pingback: Say Yes to the Mini Retreat | Joselyn Vaughn

  2. It sounds like you have a lot of support and encouragement,Joselyn. I don’t think I’d get a lot done in a hotel room, to be frank about myself.
    I am terribly sad about your files disappearing, but Oh, how funny that you blame them being ‘mythologically named’!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jeff7salter says:

    Lost the bigfoot story? Seems like I remember that announcement some months back, but I guess I figured you had later recovered it. Hard to imagine you had only that single copy.
    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with your observation that word count alone isn’t the only (or best) measure of creative and productive sessions. I love your account of those brainstorming sessions and those are (for me) often great for getting me past some hurdle in my story… or in better understanding one of my characters.
    Gosh, it sounds like you’ve done a lot of the writing retreats (and related events). You could do a workshop on this subject!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mini retreats sound like they can be very helpful. I’m not sure how much I would get done in a hotel room but then again maybe a change of setting can really push a person along and get them writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Sometimes just “getting away” helps to get words going. I often take my laptop along when traveling for weekend music festivals and manage to get a lot more work done in my hotel room than I would sitting at my kitchen table.


  6. Tess Grant says:

    I remember that! I felt horrible about Bigfoot.

    I’m always pretty pleased with my word count from our mini-retreats. It may be that I don’t set the bar too high. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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