June 5

Writer’s Retreat in McCall, Idaho coming up.

A photo of where we’ll be staying at.
 The picture was taken off of rental website. 

The Coeur du Bois chapter of Romance Writers of America is having their annual Writer’s retreat this month.   Last year was my first year and I enjoyed it immensely. I learned a lot, got a lot of writing done and had fun.

We will be going to the same cabin in McCall we went to last year. As you can probably tell from the photo we are in a pretty remote location during retreat.  However several members last year went into town to enjoy the farmers market, the old-fashioned chocolate factory, the beach and so much more. The cabin came with a television, a dvd play and other electronic toys, but as far as I know they remained unused during our stay.  The one thing members probably wanted but didn’t have was internet access.  However, the lack of internet access and power hours was what allowed one member to write 20,000 words during her internment. Instead of getting online to do research and suddenly losing four hours, you write a note to do research in an area and continue writing.

A photo of the living room.
 The picture was taken off of rental website. 

Power hours, for those who don’t know, are especially helpful. They were offered several times throughout the day. Someone kept track of when the hour began and when it would end.  During that hour everyone participating focused solely on writing. No editing. No researching.  No plotting.  Just editing.  It’s a great exercise and you really learn how much writing you can get done in a short amount of time, especially if you find someone to compete with–word count wise.

As nice and comfortable as the place is, there are things that I’ll need to remember to bring with me this time around, beyond the necessities. I’d like to bring a small pillow to use as a cushion for when I’m going to sit at the table for extended periods of time.  A throw to hang over my shoulders for those days when my body seems to have a different temperature than everyone else in the cabin. Plus, I’ll bring different snacks.  No one seemed to have even touched the homemade cookies I brought, but then, their was an overabundance of desserts there.  Alcohol was also readily available. Those who know me well would probably gape at the fact that I had a glass of some kind of alcohol every night.

As social and collaborative as the retreat can be, the cabin was usually pretty quiet, which allowed people to sleep in, nap or write until their fingers and pencils were stubs.  It’s also highly productive and relaxing. Why wouldn’t I be looking forward to retreat?

June 25

Retreat Update: It was a blast

I got home from retreat today and I am sad I am home.  I wish the retreat was still going on and I did not have work tomorrow.  I learned a lot at retreat both about writing and non-writing topics. I tried foods that were new to me, drank a single glass of some sort of alcohol every night. I had great conversations with writers, about writing, helping them through their story and about books we’ve read.

There was no internet access at the cabin, which meant when we were on the computer we could only write. We had to leave notes in areas where we would otherwise immediately start doing research and distracting us for several hours from our writing.  I got some good feedback on my work, good sound-boarding was accomplished and some general editing.  I went there intending to edit my novels, which I did, not to create new pages, so I can’t say exactly how much writing I got done.  But one of the attendees there hit 20,000 words. It’s amazing what no internet and several “Power Hours” can accomplish.

A Power Hour, for those who don’t know, is basically an hour of writing.  You don’t worry about grammar, whether the scene makes sense, or anything other than getting words on the page. It can all be edited later. And some make it a mild competition.  Who can get the most words on a page in an hour? I was editing, so I didn’t get as many words written as I otherwise might have when I participated in two of the power hours.  I hit about a thousand words.

This was my first writer’s retreat, my first retreat. I wasn’t sure exactly what to bring with me to this one so I took the basics and a few other…”I may needs.”  Now I have a better idea of what I’ll need to take with me for retreat next year.  Here’s an example of a few things:

  • A Throw

I think I would have been a little more comfortable if I’d had a small blanket to throw over my legs or shoulders at different parts of the day. It got chilly in McCall.

  • A small pillow

I would have been more comfortable with a small pillow to sit on.  The chairs I sat on–the kitchen table chairs–were hard and would grow uncomfortable after a while. The pillow would also give me a little support when I was trying to go to bed for the night.

  • A Hard copy of my novel(s)

I may not feel the need for a hardcopy at a later time. But since I do everything better on paper–editing, writing, reading, critiquing–I probably should have brought a hard copy with me to help me with my editing.  If I’m focusing on writing, instead of editing, next year I should be fine with just paper and pen.

These are only a few examples but they are what I would put on the top of the list of wants/needs.

Thanks to everyone who made the retreat a great experience for me. I look forward to next year’s retreat.

June 20

A Writer’s Retreat

As some of you know, I am a member of several writer’s groups. One of the groups I’m involved in is the Romance Writers of America (RWA). I am an active member of the Coeur du Bois chapter. I’ve been a member for almost a year now and I have no regrets in joining the RWA chapter. I’ve gained a great number of writing resources, writing friends and learned a lot things about writing. Usually, the group  meets once a month to discuss various topics on writing, whether it’s how to write dialogue, or build an author platform. However, this month their is no meeting.

From June 21-23, the Coeur du Bois chapter (CBC) is hosting a writing retreat for its members in McCall, Idaho.  The idea of the retreat is simple: escape the world, get away from the distractions that make writing hard, and write. The only thing keeping us from writing is other writers, which may or may not be a necessary part of the process, depending on where in your writing you are.

I have never been to a writer’s retreat.  But I have heard of them in the past, and, since the retreats are an annual event, I’ve heard nothing but good things about the experiences from fellow CBC members. One person told me she got 25,000 words written during one of the retreats. Food is paid for by the CBC, though we are encouraged to bring food for ourselves or to share with other members if we like. I’m looking forward to it and, honestly, the trip couldn’t have arrived at a better time.

My current homework packet is due on Wednesday.  As soon as I turn it in, I need to start working on the material for my second packet.  So I’ll start working on my second packet at the retreat! It’ll be the perfect place to get a great start on my editing and writing.

I’ve also never been to McCall before. I’ve had family members and fellow writer’s tell me it is beautiful.  On Google, I find pictures of a lake, woods, mountains, old-fashioned buildings.  It sounds ideal and I intend to take a camera with me to take a lot of pictures. Going off the map, it appears the cabin we’ll be staying at will be relatively close to the lake. The cabin itself looks attractive and will no doubt help spur my imagination into overdrive. Hopefully I can keep up with my imagination.