Writing Retreat Lessons (Part Two)

Thursday, October 04, 2012
Camille during SCHEDULED writing time!
I know you've all been sitting on the edge of your seats waiting for part two of my writing retreat story. I got a little sidetracked with a couple other projects, but I don't want to leave you hanging, as part two is going to tell you what we learned.

If you missed part one, which included a short story about how my critique group decided to do a retreat thanks to a post on The Muffin by Cathy Hall, where we did it, and our schedule for the weekend, please see this post: Part One.

So, what worked on the writing retreat and what didn't or in other words, "What did we learn?"

1. Ask plenty of questions about the place where you are staying. What types of amenities do they provide? What should you bring yourself? If you need something specific in order to write, ask about it or bring it yourself! (Again, to see how the misunderstanding about the term HOTEL affected our stay, see Part One.)

2. Schedule WRITING time. You must SCHEDULE writing time. If you do not SCHEDULE writing time (do you get my point?), then you will waste time doing other things like sleeping, talking, eating, walking, drinking, cleaning out your fingernails, etc., etc.

3. Although you should SCHEDULE writing time and plenty of it, you should also allow yourself time to take a break, especially to go swimming if the pool where you are staying is actually free and not $5 a person to swim. (I know, I know you are wondering where did we stay and again, why did we not ask questions?)

4. Bring plenty of snacks and plenty of drinks (leaded or unleaded--whichever you prefer).

Power's out & we are making vision boards
5. E-mail your retreat members your goals for what you are going to work on BEFORE you go--make sure you have all your notes and writing necessities when packing. Hopefully, members of your writing group will gently nudge you to stick to your goals.

6. Plan for emergencies--such as when you lose all power in the middle of the woods at 9:00 pm when it is 101 degrees outside (and one of your members is pregnant!). Pack a flashlight or have a smart friend with a smart phone who has a light app!

7. Oh, and have fun! We did--we wrote, we ate, we laughed and celebrated, and we even had a project to do when all the electricity went out--we made vision boards. Mine is hanging on the way downstairs at home, and I look at it every day!

Have you ever been on a writing retreat? Have you planned one yourself? Any dos or don'ts from your experience?

One final note, the other day I went on a writing marathon organized by Sioux (who comments on here regularly and did a Friday Speak Out) through our writing group, Saturday Writers. This is also a really cool event. We met at a neat area in St. Charles, MO, we walked a little (about eight of us), sat down and wrote for 20 minutes, shared our writing, got up and walked, stopped and wrote for 20 minutes, and so on. I finished an entire chapter of my WIP this way--and it took one Saturday morning instead of a whole weekend.

When there's a will to write, there's a way. . .

 When Margo is not busy with the Lit Ladies or working on her current middle-grade mystery series, she's teaching classes for WOW!. In the middle of October, she has three classes starting: Advanced Social Networking, Blogging 101, and Advanced Writing a Middle-Grade Novel. For more information, check out the WOW! classroom here.


Sioux Roslawski said...


I'm glad you found the writing marathon productive. I wrote an entire "Not Your Mother's Book" submission then, so I too got some work done.

I go to a writing retreat at The Abbey (in Conception, Missouri--right outside St. Joseph) and it's the perfect place for me.

There are NO fancy amenities. No phones, no TVs, simple beds, bare walls, lovely rolling hills, simple but filling food, and a bunch of monks. It's ideal for me because there are no diversions.

Margo Dill said...

That's right--Sioux wrote a great essay about maternity clothes in the 1970s! :)

Sioux--I love the idea of going where there are no distractions. I've been to one of those, too. I guess, though, when I really look at myself, I like a few amenities. :) It's good to be honest and know yourself.

BECKY said...

Your writing retreat sounds like the perfect match for me...I gotta have some of those amenities, too! :)

Margo Dill said...

Ha, Becky! Glad to see someone else is like me and my lit ladies. We didn't really want to "rough" it. :)

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