NaNoWriMo – Day 16-18

For the last three years, my group of writing friends has gone on a writing retreat for one weekend each November. We work on getting caught up or ahead on our NaNo word counts, catch up with each other’s lives, and generally have a really good time. The focus is on writing and we have quiet hours to encourage productivity, but we also tend to eat meals together and take breaks to laugh and enjoy ourselves.

My Goal for the writing retreat was to leave on Sunday with 40,000 words in the bank.

Day 16 – Goal 2,800 (cumulative 31,667)
Going into the retreat I was a bit behind what I wanted. I had hoped to be at 30k before leaving and I didn’t quite make it. I did get close though with some words written at work over lunch and on the bus. We also made decent time getting to the retreat and I had more time to write after we arrived than I expected. Overall it was a productive day and I was happy with where I finished the day off. With a 5,000 word day on Saturday and a double day on Sunday, I was on my way to 40k before heading home. Actual – 31,700

Day 17 – Goal 5,000 (36,667)
Saturday is always the biggest word day at the retreat. It is our only full day and we tend to have a good amount of quiet hours. I wanted a minimum of 5,000 words but was hoping for more like 6,000. In the end, I got about 6,500. The real story of the day though was one of my friends got 8,500 and that is now my future one-day word goal! Actual – 38,400

Day 18 – Goal ~3,333 (41,667)
On Sunday at the retreat we spend the morning writing, the early afternoon packing up and cleaning, and the late afternoon getting home. I knew I wanted to have 40k before I left the retreat. That meant I needed ~1,600 in the morning quiet hours. Once I had those words I helped clean up and went out to spend a bit of time at the end of the boardwalk looking out over the ocean. It was beautiful and I’m glad I had that 20 minutes to recharge. At home, I managed another 1,000 words before bed. Actual – 41,000

Overall it was a successful retreat. I made my goal of 40,000 before leaving the writing retreat. I wrote almost 10,000 words while I was away for the weekend, which in some ways is less than I usually get, but was as much as I needed. I’m in good shape to get my 50k by Friday.

Are you where you wanted to be at this point in the month? How are you feeling about your chances of finishing 50,000 by the end of November?

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The Winning Update – Day 17 & 18

This year is our third annual NaNoWriMo writing retreat. I wrote about our first retreat in 2015. Our location changed this year, and I’ll write more about it later, but all of my words on the 17th and 18th were written at the retreat.

Day 17:
I’d planned to write 2,500 as usual on Friday leading up the retreat. Of course I always forget how much time it takes to pack for a weekend away. It seems like it should take much less time than say packing for a week, but in my experience it takes almost as long. Longer in this case since I also had to worry about food. Plus I really wanted to get a workout in before we left. By the time I was ready to go, I hadn’t written a word. I didn’t start writing until 9p. I figured, “Ok, I’ll just aim for 1,667 or 2,000. I can catch up Saturday easily.” Well I hit 2,000 and then zoomed on to 2,500. Retreat day one was a win.

Day 18:
My goal, since we booked the retreat was to win NaNo while at the retreat. I thought I would win on the Sunday. If I wrote 2,500 words each day leading up, and each day at the retreat that is when I would win. Well Friday night I revised that goal, I wanted to win on Saturday. On the main retreat day a 5,000 word day isn’t outrageous.

I did it! I won in the afternoon. So yesterday evening I wrote another 2,000 words for a total of over 7,000. Yesterday is now my wordiest recorded day on NaNo. (I think I’ve had wordier NaNo days, but they were before records were kept).

NaNo Daily Challenge Update:
On Friday night I started writing so late, I didn’t really pay attention to my challenge. I wish I had, it was use more than sight for description, but honestly I just needed to get my words in. Yesterday was “Yes, but” and “No, and” again, and I did try and focus on it. I like how it helps propel the story forward, and sometimes it even helps me know where to go next. Definitely something I will be using even once I’m done NaNoWriMo this year.

Are you ahead or behind for NaNo? Have you ever been on a writers retreat?

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?