Monday, 22 January 2018

The Benefits of a One Day Writing Retreat

I consider myself to be a dedicated writer and while my day isn’t always as well-planned and organised as it could be it is almost invariably filled with writerly things. Most of the time I can be found pounding away at my keyboard or reading my notes. Recently I completed the first draft of Long Ago and Far Away, the novel I began in November for the NaNoWriMo challenge of writing fifty thousand words in a month. Time now to work on editing before sending it out into the big wide world. Sometimes, though, it’s easy to become distracted – by Facebook conversations, by Twitter and, well we all know about displacement activities. However…

For a little over six years now I have attended The Write Place Creative Writing School in Kent, with weekly lessons that have kept me on my toes and from which I have learned a huge amount. But aside from the benefits of excellent tuition there is the added bonus of the one day writing retreats that are held regularly (usually once a month). 

There was one such retreat last Saturday. I went with less enthusiasm than usual due to a fuggy head. It's that time of the year isn't it! Fortunately I had planned what I was going to work on. Fugginess receded and by the end of the morning I had written the outline for my next book and begun work on the synopsis for Long Ago and Far Away. Then we broke for lunch, an assortment of delights brought by the participants to share between us all, and we always bring too much!

This is a particularly social time when we can relax for a while after hours of intense concentration, though writing usually comes into the conversation somewhere.

Back at our ‘stations’ work continued and tapping of fingers on keys was the only sound to be heard.  I used this time to finish the synopsis I'd been working on during the morning and to put on my editing hat. There was also an opportunity for each of us to take advantage of a one2one discussion with our tutor, Elaine Everest, and this is invaluable as it gives us a chance to talk purely about ourselves and our own aspirations, and of course to receive specifically tailored advice. 

By the time I got home I was exhausted but I had done at least twice as much work as I would have done at home. No breaks and no distractions. It was wine o'clock and I was ready. The next day I set to with a will and yes, I did a huge amount of work, but I may have taken the odd break here and there to watch TV or make a phone call. It happens.

The point I’m trying to make is that a day dedicated to writing is not unusual – it’s what I do – but a day dedicated to writing in a different environment where there are absolutely no outside distractions is priceless. My work is pretty much planned for the next month but I know that the next retreat will be as beneficial as this one has been. If it isn’t, it would be for the first time ever.

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  1. Very interesting, thanks so much for this.

  2. The next one is in three weeks,Jane, and I'm already planning my schedule for the day. Glad you enjoyed the blog