Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Healthy Writer Weekend

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to dedicate a lot of time to my writing with some healthy ventures sprinkled in. Three members of my local RWA chapter and I rented a cabin at a state park, intent on getting away from it all so we could focus on making lots of progress on our various writing projects. Gretchen and Lara were working on new projects while Kim and I were working on existing manuscripts. Kim was looking to lengthen her book, while I was doing a complete read-through and editing of a young adult manuscript in preparation for more substantial revisions. We all wanted a couple of days away from the Internet, TV, all the responsibilities and distractions that awaited at home.

We arrived on Friday afternoon, unloaded the cars and talked a little about what we were going to do over the weekend. I'd planned to go for a walk by the lake that afternoon, but it came a
rainstorm that nixed that idea. Instead, we enjoyed a meal together then got to work.

Throughout the weekend, we'd set
the timer on the cabin's stove and we'd all go off to various corners of the cabin to work for the allotted time, then come back and sh
are how much we'd accomplished. This worked well since we concentrated on nothing else during those time slots.

On Saturday morning, I took that walk by the lake. It's a very pretty park, and though it was beginning to get a bit muggy, I enjoyed the scenery and the exercise. Then came breakfast and more revisions for me. It felt good to make steady progress.

During the afternoon, we took a break and drove to another part of the park to see the waterfalls that give the park its name. A kind gentleman took this picture of us with the falls in the background. From left: Gretchen, me, Lara and Kim.

Years ago, my husband and I walked down to the bottom of the falls, and even then, when I was probably in my 20s, it was a strenuous hike back to the top of the trail. So we didn't hike it this time because it was really hot and we didn't have enough time.

We drove to another beautiful spot, this overlook where you can see for miles. It was nice to just listen to the wind in the trees.

That evening, Lara fired up the grill outside the cabin to prepare dinner, and almost immediately a raccoon showed up looking for a handout and
determined to get the burgers. He finally gave up and went back off into the woods. He was only one of the critters we saw during the weekend. While I was sitting out on the deck working, a squirrel came to sit on the deck railing in front of me, the tamest squirrel I've ever seen. While Kim was standing in the one spot in the road where she could get a cell phone signal, a young deer wandered by. It all added to the peaceful, relaxing atmosphere.

We're already looking forward to another of these relaxing yet productive weekends in the future.

Have you ever been on a writing retreat? Was it a positive experience?


Michelle Butler on June 8, 2010 at 9:13 AM said...

I have been on a few writer retreats, and they are wonderful - so productive, refreshing, empowering - just a great time. I'm glad you enjoyed yours.

The tip about the timer is interesting. I've never done that.

You look so skinny in that photo including the overlook!

Are you set to tackle your revisions to the YA now? :)

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on June 8, 2010 at 9:16 AM said...

I'm in a much better spot to tackle the big revisions now, Michelle. That's the point I wanted to get to this past weekend. I have a couple of other things that have to be done before I can really dive in, such as some board work. But I'm looking forward to making some good progress and hopefully finish up before month's end.

Kim Law on June 8, 2010 at 10:45 AM said...

It was such a fabulous weekend! Peaceful and productive...and great company!

You left out all the helpful plot/character brainstorming we did Friday and Saturday night. Having more than one writer's head around to "think" with is such a great benefit.

Sally Kilpatrick on June 8, 2010 at 12:05 PM said...

Your trip looked like a bunch of fun. The Petit Fours and Hot Tamales have been getting together for "write in"s including a weeklong retreat at a cabin--I didn't get to go for that one, though. GRW did a "write inn" at the Holiday Inn last year and have something similar planned this year. I plan to attend that one.

I really like retreats, and, yes, we used the timer idea, too. I think I'll have to wait until the kids are a little older before I can go on too many, too. They tend to drive Daddy a little crazy when I'm gone.

Keri Mikulski on June 8, 2010 at 5:52 PM said...

Wow.. I've never done a writer's retreat and now I want to. :)

Thanks for sharing. :) Looks like a great time!

Elise Hayes on June 9, 2010 at 8:15 AM said...

I've *loved* the writer's retreats I've been on. Great writing, great company, great food, and a bit of exercise--basically it's an incredibly fun and productive weekend. Can't wait for my next one!

I hadn't thought about renting a cabin at a state park. How far a drive was it? How many bedrooms? Is there a website with more info?

I do like our current retreat spot in Berkeley Springs, since it's fairly close and I like eating at restaurants in the evening (it's a treat after a long day of writing). But it would significantly lessen expenses if we were someplace where we had to eat in for all the meals.

Gretchen Stull on June 9, 2010 at 10:26 PM said...

I had such a good time! And I'm still on the high of writing and plowing through. It was definitely a great idea and I'm grateful you all let me tag along and stayed on me to keep writing. Thanks!! :)

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on June 11, 2010 at 1:11 PM said...

Elise, our cabin was a couple of hours away and had two bedrooms with two double beds in each. There were four of us so it worked out well. You could probably just Google state parks for your state and see which ones have cabins. Some B&B establishments also have cabins or small homes where you're not sharing with anyone else other than your group.

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