Erin Green Author - blog
Morning folks, I'm as excited as excited can be ... I'm packing my writing desk up to attend a weekend writing retreat. And, we all know how much I love a writing retreat. This retreat is a little different from my usual treat, this retreat is similar to my self-imposed solitary confinement back in August but with four other writers. Though, the concept of write, write, and write is the primary focus despite having others around. Plus, it means I'll be fed properly by our hostess rather than existing on my usual chicken and avocado salad!
Many aspiring authors ask me if writing retreats are worth the time and money? Yes! If you impose the right mindset ('write mindset' - sorry, I couldn't resist :-) ) Writing retreats come in two formats: structured sessions led and delivered by a writing mentor or unstructured weekends where authors are free to do as they please. I do a combination as both have merits for my writing experience.
If it's your first writing retreat, I can highly recommend Alison May and Janet Gover whose retreats I attend at least once a year. Check out their website for further details here. They offer sessions tailored specificly to the attendees (plotting, novel construction, editing - there's nothing they won't cover/deliver for you, just ask) in a free and easy environment in which you can opt out and disappear to write, if you choose. They provide one to one feedback/critique session too - these are vital to any writer. Both are mentors to me. Both have encouraged and supported my journey towards publication. And, I trust their opinion about my work. There are a handful of people who are allowed to read a first draft of my work - these two lovelies belong to that group. Meals, accommodation and evening discussions are part of the package - which makes for a great weekend amongst other writers.
Unstructured retreats are literally a weekend away where a writer can disappear from every day life and work as they need on their writing project. There's usually a handful of people in one house and you each choose 'your writing spot' and away you go. You all come together for meals and such like but the aim of the game is for each to focus on their projects. It works, especially if you are with like minded people; you work all day and get to socialise intermittantly and chat on the evenings.
Remember that the networking element of retreats is vital, as it immerses you into your chosen career. I have learnt as much in evening discussions as I have during any specific retreat session. So, take an interest in your fellow writers - it is amazing how a tiny nugget of info changes something on your journey towards publication. If nothing else, remember my 'big break moment' came on a writing retreat: Bristol, 5th March 2017!
Today, I'm heading to an unstructured retreat. To make the most of the weekend, I need to set my boundaries and goals:
1. I am there to write my current project (currently standing at 66,447 words of 100,000 words).
2. My primary aim is to finish writing one character's story line (I still have 75% of her storyline to write).
I have the opportunity to walk the local countryside which will provide short breaks away from my laptop screen. That's it. My entire weekend is laid out, right there.
I'm always honest with my blog posts so, I'll update this page as the weekend retreat progresses.
Friday, 11th Oct: I arrived just after three o'clock and settled into my beautiful room. Christie, our hostess, gave us a lovely warm welcome accompanied by a glass of bubbles - which always goes down well amongst us writing ladies. After a gorgeous home-cooked meal, we all went our separate ways to write into the night. I chose to nest in the cosy reading room which feels like 'my writing spot' for the weekend. As I write, we have Bella Osborne in the lounge, Jenni Keer upstairs in her bedroom, Christie Barlow in her study and me in the reading room - it sounds like a strange game of Cluedo but we're all busy armed with our laptops and not the lead piping or a candlestick. We have a fourth author joining us tomorrow to complete the pack. What is the collective noun for a group of authors? Mmmm, now there's a question.
Saturday, 12th Oct: There doesn't seem to be a collective noun for a group of authors - which figures. I can hardly label us given our spectrum of genre, knowledge and creativity - maybe we should remain 'nounless' but a library of authors or a critique of authors sounds OKish.
Sorry, sorry, I was too busy putting words onto my manuscript page to stop and add to my blog page. But still, here's the update. An early breakfast on Saturday followed by a long day producing words. And, I mean long - gin o'clock wasn't called until 9pm when we all downed tools and meet-up in the lounge for a chat and a tipple.
I'm delighted with my progress for Saturday. A good run of writing with intermittent breaks naturally occurring where we all meet up in the kitchen for a coffee or was served a meal. I've managed to steam ahead with my character's story line and drip feed in a few unexpected ideas that popped up along the way. I suppose that's the beauty of planning; I know the story line and additional ideas simply arrive.
The others in the house are working on different stages of their projects: Bella was originally editing a manuscript but once finished and sent to her agent began planning her NaNo project. Jenni was planning a brand new book, Christie was completing her edits. A fifth writer arrived, Caroline who was writing her draft one, like myself.
Sunday, 13th Oct:
I was writing by half seven in the morning as I knew today was my last day. I planned to leave at 3pm so needed to capture the words. And, I did. By lunchtime, I had reached 10,087 words since my Friday arrival. Now that, is a huge boost for my current manuscript. I tend to hit around this figure on a weekend retreat so, it felt good to have arrived. The motivation and renewed energy that you feel on completing such a focused weekend is quite phenomenal. I know that the week ahead will follow a similar path and hopefully, this project will be written by 31st October, which is my self-imposed deadline.
I didn't quite reach my primary goal of finishing a character's story line but I am very near - so, as a brand new week starts, I'm raring to go!
I would highly recommend attending a writers' retreat: good food, good company and plenty of words written. What more could you want?