Friday, 20 April 2012

R is for Retreat

Photo Credit
Sadly, I don't have the time or money to go on a traditional Writers Retreat. Italy would be nice, lounging  poolside, sipping an ice cold drink, and tapping out several thousand words in between.

Or a cottage in the Cotswold's, however, reality is, it won't be happening. BUT, that doesn't mean I can't improvise and create something similar here at home. A one-day retreat, facilitated by yours truly.

We're all expert procrastinators, and given the chance we'll choose something else over having to sit on our bums and write for a set amount of time. It isn't that we don't like writing. Far from it, its just, its easier to do something else other than getting words down on the page.

How do we go about creating a writers retreat for ourselves then?

First, we need to plan. Decide on a date, then clear the decks. Cancel all appointments, tell family and friends you're away, and unavailable.If you have children, and your partner can't occupy them, try their grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, or anyone that will take them! Then send your significant other off out of the way too.

Before the day, buy the food you'll be eating. Marks and Spencer's do a terrific range of easy dishes that take thirty minutes or less in the oven. Or mere minutes in the microwave. Buy ready prepared salads, and treats that don't require any preparation. Fruit is a good choice, my favourites are seedless grapes and ready prepared pineapple. Stock up on drinks to see you through the day.

Okay, its retreat day. Here's the tough part, disconnect your land line, and switch off your mobile phone.  If you can't trust yourself not to surf the Internet, check emails and chat on Face book, or Twitter. You should disconnect your Internet connection too.

You've already made a schedule to follow. Make sure you type it out and have it in front of you. Its official, and reinforces what you're going to be doing today. Lets assume you're working on a novel for the purpose of the example.

8.30am - Tea, and a read through of the first three chapters of WIP to refresh yourself with the story so far.

9.00am - Begin chapters 4 and beyond.

10.00am - Break for a drink, and a walk out into the garden weather permitting.

10.15am - Flash Fiction - Produce a short piece of writing, taking your prompt from the following list of words. Egg, Susan, Clacton, Train and Fire. Write for fifteen minutes, without stopping, then read over your efforts and smile!

10.45am - Continue with your WIP

11.45am - Break - Put the oven on at this point, wait five minutes before putting your meal into cook. Set some sort of timer for fifteen minutes. Play slow relaxing music, which you sorted out in advance, and close your eyes, get comfortable, perhaps lying on the floor or sitting in a comfortable chair. Breathe deeply and unwind. Let your busy mind rest.

12.00pm - Set the table, and serve your meal.

12.30pm - Weather permitting - Go out for a brisk walk, alternatively read quietly away from where you've been working.

1.00pm - Onwards! Sit at your desk and continue with your WIP

2.00pm - Break for a drink of tea, or coffee.

2.15pm - Review your afternoon plan, look it over and familiarise yourself with what is going to happen.

2.30pm - Continue with WIP

4pm - Bring out the fruit or other snacks, take a break. Grab a drink, leave the room or go outside.

4.15pm - Planning - Get a notebook, or piece of paper and make a plan, a road map of what you intend to do next with your WIP after today. Set objectives for the next week. Perhaps while you have been busy, its crossed your mind you might look for some competitions to enter, or you'll write a new short story, or a blog post, or some more flash fiction. Write it down.

4.45pm - Continue WIP

5.45pm - Break - Prepare salad and cold meats, fish or warm some ready made soup.

6pm - Eat and enjoy! Read a book, listen to music, or go for a walk again the choice is yours.

7pm - Continue WIP

8pm - Wine O'clock (Grab yourself a glass of whatever you fancy, get your notebook, and review your day) Record your word count, your feelings, and whatever you want to write in your notebook, about your retreat day.

I hope you've been able to visualise the retreat day I created here. Of course yours will be tailor made for you, and even better if you have a writing buddy to share the experience with, as long as the two of you can be disciplined, and stick to the itinerary.

Are you ready for a retreat?


  1. Wish I could join you, but I don't think I can swim across the big pond.

  2. I would love to go on a retreat - away from it all and just write :-) I love the sound of your retreat at home x

  3. That's a lot of snacks!

    Ha! I had a weekend to myself not long ago and the house was so quiet I couldn't concentrate. I kept distracting myself with noisy chores instead of sitting at the computer writing. I think I might get more done when people are at home bustling around me, asking why we're out of cereal.

  4. Hi...I'm hopping over from the A to Z Challenge...lovely blog...good luck with the rest of the challenge...

    Donna L Martin

  5. Richard - We will have to have a virtual retreat day instead :-)

    Teresa - Thank you!

    L.G Smith - Oh I get bothered quite a bit at home too...

    Donna - Nice to see you.


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