Writing with Friends. Retreat 101

If we're friends on social media you may have seen me talk about my writer's retreat- fondly dubbed #snapdragonretreat.

I'm not going into the specifics of it because my two writing partners/ friends did a WAY better job than I ever could. You can read about it on either  Anya or Eryn's post. What I will say is that it was better than AMAZING and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it.

Another friend is looking to do the same and this got me thinking about what made our retreat so successful.

This is what I came up with:

1.  We three, Anya, Eryn, and I, have sent lots of time writing together. We have a groove. That really helped.

A. We are old hats at setting goals. Every week as a critique group we set goals. Every year we set yearly goals. GOALS. GOALS GOALS. For our retreat we set up goals on the drive to the retreat (which was pretty close to where we lived so we didn't spend HOURS on the road driving when we could have been writing.

B. We have lots of practice doing writing sprints together. We know when someone in the grow signs loudly or looks flustered that it's just the process they are going through and we know how to wait for the sprint to end until we discuss hurdles. Generally, our sprints are short 45-60 minutes with 15 minutes to brainstorm/troubleshoot. At the retreat our sprints were 3-4 hours and the breaks came around lunch, mid day, and dinner. We purposefully kept them short- we didn't waste excessive time to sight see. We weren't there for that . We were there for writing.

2. You need to have the sort of relationship that you can say “That's a stupid idea” when it's someone else idea and book.

It's one thing when it's 11 at night and you've been writing ALL DAY and you're punchy, your eyes are blurry, and you're surprised you're even coherent and you say, “I just wrote the cheesiest line”. We all did at 11pm.  Especially when the section you're working on is a difficult one and you don't have the mental energy to go there. You say you wrote something stupid. Everyone laughs but you talk about how you're going to change it and then you guzzle a glass of wine.

It's another thing when it's lunch and you've only been writing for 3 hours and you say, “I just did the stupidest thing” and you don't have a solution. Your writing partners need to be able to say, “Yeah, that is stupid.” Like when, as we worked on my story board, (that's a whole other blog) they said, “How's it going to end” and I said, “I dunno. Maybe he gets a tattoo or something. Boy that's stupid.” My partners nodded their heads and said, “Yeah. It is.” and we dug deep, brainstormed, made fun of my MC and BAM! I figured out my end (with a LOT Of their help).

My Story Board
My Story Board

3.  You need to be able to exist on caffeine, foods that you can dip veggies into, wine, and chocolate. Ok, maybe you can come up with something different but that's what we did and it worked wonders for us.

4. Pick a place where you don't spend hours driving. The time is to write- not drive. The fact that our place required a ferry ride made us feel like we were getting away yet I was an hour from home -ferry ride and all.

5. Be flexible. We worked mainly at the B and B but we also worked out of a coffee shop and in my car waiting for the ferry. We didn't monkey around and stuck to the goal of writing. We wrote our butts off.

Eryn nearly finished her book and in fact two days later DID finish it.

I ended up being 6k short of finishing my book.

Anya doubled her word count- which was large to begin with.

Writing Retreat Win!

I'd love to know if you've gone on any retreats and what your thoughts are. I'd also love to know what worked and didn't for you.


Oh, did you see this? How cool is this?



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