Writing retreat

Last weekend I went to a cottage in Somerset with two friends in my writing group. We met two years ago, when we all took a non-fiction writing short course at City University (it’s taught by Peter Forbes and is excellent), and one of us who is much more organised than I am took the initiative to start monthly meetings. All of us have time-eating things going on in our real lives – combinations of work, grad school, a toddler – and the idea of the weekend was to clear some space and let ourselves think fully about our writing projects.

It went GREAT! At the end everyone said they were pleased at how productive we were, despite also getting a fair bit of walking and sight-seeing (and board games, and drinking…) in on the sides. Here are the things I think helped, and which I’m going to try to do in real life as well as idyllic rural weekend life:

Goals: We took a small amount of time on Saturday morning to think about what we wanted to do over the weekend. My goal was to look at my chapter ideas from fresh: the structure of the book has changed a lot since I first talked about the proposal with Lydia, my agent, and I wanted to set aside the accumulated version and “tell myself the story” from the beginning. I also wanted to think about what research exactly was needed for each chapter, and where I would go to do it. Read more...