My First Writing Retreat

It has been almost a month and I just realized I never posted about the writing retreat I went on last month. I am lucky enough to have a small writers group that meets regularly online and less frequently in person. This year for NaNoWriMo we decided to take one of our in person gatherings to the next level. We borrowed a friends cottage for a weekend and spent two nights and two days writing away from home.

The short version: It was amazing! I haven’t had that much fun in a long time. We worked hard to keep writing as the main focus while still having time to chat and catch up.

The longer version: We left for the cottage on a Friday evening, after work. The drive was uneventful until the very end when we took a wrong turn up a road we dubbed “Murder Mountain Road”. It was a rutted gravel lane way that ended at a seemingly abandoned house with a single street light. Made no less creppy by the pair of jeans hanging from a tree halfway up the hill. After beating a hasty retreat we figure out where we should be going and found the cottage without much trouble.

That night we spent some time catching up. We don’t get to see each other as often as we would like. It was nice to hear about everyone’s kids, families, jobs, etc. We did get a few hours of writing in before bed since I insisted on finishing NaNoWriMo. I couldn’t validate right away though since the cottage didn’t have internet or cell service. (I actually loved the lack of connectivity).

The next morning we got our first look at the ocean across the road from the cottage. The night before it was so dark by the time we arrived I wasn’t sure I believed our host about how close the ocean was. Even in the fog and damp the view was beautiful and inspiring.

That morning we had several one hour blocks for quiet time. I might have gotten a bit of a reputation for cracking the whip if anyone even looked like they might start talking, but we stuck to our quiet hours and got a lot of writing done. I did some much needed editing on the MG Sci Fi, and I even managed to write a few new scenes for it.

After lunch we went into town to hit an internet cafe. I validated my novel on the NaNo site and everyone sent off a quick text to let family members know we were alive and well. We did make an unexpected, but delightful side trip to a used bookstore called Blue Griffin Books. They had a great sci-fi and fantasy section. We had to literally dig through piles to be able to see even two thirds of the books. I will definitely be bringing my husband back to that store at some point.

The rest of Saturday we spent doing word wars/sprints before and after dinner. I don’t think I got to bed until after 1am, and even then I chatted with my roommate a bit before sleep. Sunday we had some more quiet time and word sprints in the morning, then at noon it was time to head home.

I think my favourite part of the writing retreat, besides the writing, was the time with other writers. If I ran into a stumbling block in my novel it was easy to ask for advice. Sometimes the suggestions didn’t quite work, but they got my mind going again. Our chats weren’t just about our current projects, but also about writing craft in general. We talked about grammar and punctuation, writing courses members of the group had taken, and how to make our characters more realistic.

We hope to make the retreat a reoccurring event. I already can’t wait for the next one.

Have you ever been on a writing retreat? Did you find it helpful or a drag?

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