I have been diligently adding lots of new writer friends and colleagues to my google reader and google friend connect lately, hoping to keep up with all of the networking and connections that this great wide internet can provide, and I stumbled upon this awesome post by Febe (of the super awesome crit group I ventured to yesterday) which led me to Annie's blog post about their awesome writing retreat last year.
So, writing retreats are a "thing" where writers go to some serene location (perhaps a lake house, time-share on the beach, or cabin in the woods) and write...
They talk about writing with each other.
They share passages with each other.
They puzzle through plot points with each other.
They also get high word counts on the page, often enough, which is part of the appeal to me.
NaNoKelMo is more than half way done, meaning I have about 12 writing days left to wrap up the first draft of my novel.
Of course, this doesn't mean I have to. I'm sure that if I don't meet my goal on April 30th, I'll be very close behind it, but this idea of a writing retreat is so appealing to me for many reasons:
No distractions. Support system. High word output. Lovely, inspiring scenery.
Well, I'm not going to be on a writing retreat any time soon, and certainly not before the end of the month, so, I got to thinking...
How can I create a writing retreat environment for free, on my own, and just for a few hours.
1. Find the prettiest accessible spot in your bubble.
For me, this is my back yard, under my patio. It is green and lovely. It's filled with flowers and bugs and critters, and when I'm there, I can forget about where I am. For you, maybe it's a park near your house, or in your guest bedroom that is rarely used, so it's set up with your loveliest linens.
Wherever you are, find the place in your world that may not be your normal writing spot, but that will offer you inspiring views, or make you feel at ease. I find that positioning myself very near a window, even just overlooking my street can be a very inspiring start.
2. Turn on the support, but turn off the network.
Tell your twitter friends that you're going in, and let them cheer you on, but then, turn off that wifi, or leave the smart phone inside, and stay unplugged.
On a writing retreat, it's normal to unwind sans phone, but at home, we're so much more likely to check every little thing, at every little moment.
At least for me, social networking is a HUGE distratction.
If I were on a beach, however, it'd be no problem to leave it alone. So I need to recreate that environment here.
3. Make it last.
Cosy up with lit candles, soft blankets, your favorite music (if you are lucky enough to be able to write while rocking out) and pour yourself a glass of wine and a bowl of candy.
For me, one of the ways to make it feel different than just any old writing session, is settling in for the long haul. Get water, get a snack, hunker down, and be prepared to STAY there and write for several hours a time. Maybe 3-5 times longer than your usual session. (If I usually write for 1 hour a night. Make this special event last 3 hours or more.)
It makes it feel important and somehow weighty for me.
So, to recap:
Find a pretty spot.
I found that by doing so, I was able to get over 5,000 words out last night in just over 3 hours. And they were good words. Strong sections that I can really work with. (Don't let me play coy, that means, I'm over 36,000 WORDS! WOAH!)
If I'd just set down for my regular writing sesh, I would have taken my 1,000 and gone to play on my ipad.
By making it a writing event, I was able to do something special and above and beyond my regular routine.
Throw yourself a writing retreat! Let me know how it goes!