I’ve just returned from two weeks at a writing retreat and all is right with the world J
Well, maybe that’s taking things a bit too far but I’m coming to the conclusion that there’s few better ways to start a year than taking a couple of weeks to focus on the word, to the exclusion of everything else.
I’m a member of a group called FWOR (Fantasy Writers on Retreat, pronounced PHWOAR!) which has been going for four years now. I missed the first retreat but I’ve been the past three years. These people have often been my life-line, my connection to sanity – particularly during the hectic days when I sold the trilogy to HarperCollins. It was great to know some professional writers well enough that I could scream and rant and jump up and down and they’d just look at me and say sagely – “Get used to it, Nicole.”
There are several things I love about my two weeks with FWOR each January.
- Talking writing. I know for most folks, the idea of going away somewhere and then talking shop for two weeks sounds like hell, but for us writers it’s heaven. We’re so often at our computers, all alone, wrestling with problems with no help but the occasional plaintive appeal to Twitter (and thank goodness for Twitter, I say!). But at the retreat, you can sit down at lunch, or dinner, and say ‘having issues working out how to get character a to place z’ or ‘not sure my structure is working’ and you’ve got folks to talk it out with. Bliss.
- Sharing war stories. When you get a rejection, there’s nothing like being able to swear and curse and rant and have people nod and tell you that you’re a genius and the editor wouldn’t know a good story if it up and bit them on the bum. Well, actually, we don’t say that – but you get sympathy and advice and that’s almost as good.
- Freedom of expectations. When you’re surrounded by people as obsessed as you are, no one turns a hair if you suddenly up from the table and go for a walk, or have to take a nap and let the mind wander. Whereas if you’re at home, the moment you leave the computer there’s a little voice at the back of your mind going “Now would be the perfect time to put that load of washing on” or “Don’t you think you should at least say hello to your family this week?” It’s nice to not have responsibilities for a while and imagine life when you’re as rich as Stephanie Meyer and can afford people to do everything for you (except spend time with your family – that tends to be one of those you can only do it yourself things).
- Productivity. Mine isn’t too bad – I’m averaging 15,000 words a week, which gives me a completed novel draft in seven weeks – pretty good. Except on the latest retreat, I averaged 32,000 words a week. Interestingly, I’ve not written a single word in the three days since I got back …
I’m going to leave you with some pics of some of the things we saw and did on the retreat. One of the writers, Russell Kirkpatrick, is a geographer by training and he takes us on these fabulous trips of the countryside. Every writer should have their own personal geographer J