I have been dreaming of going to a writers’ retreat for years. While reading a magazine aimed at those of us pursing a writing career, I came across the idea of a DIY Writers’ Retreat. The article (which I have since lost and forgotten all the citation information) gave suggestions for holding your own writers’ retreat. That led me to google “writers’ retreats” (because don’t all writers research to death everything that crosses their minds?), and I found articles and blogs about attending retreats, hosting retreats, mini-retreats, and DIY retreats.
In addition to dreaming about writers’ retreats, I was also dreaming of sneaking away from my family (my sons are now young adults, and with everyone working and in school, they will barely miss me, although I will miss them by week’s end), city life, and the Texas heat to visit my best friend and her family on the horse farm they recently purchased in the mountains of Tennessee. In addition to the horses and farm life, my industrious friend is converting an above-the-garage apartment into a Bed & Breakfast. Critiquing the B & B and offering suggestions before she opens it to the public seems to be the least I can do, right?
After the insanity of selling our home (in case you missed it, we had a contract less than 48 hours after listing it, had to move out within 30 days, found lots of major things we had to repair thanks to the inspections, couldn’t find an available apartment, technically homeless we lived with friends and house/pet-sat for two months, and just moved into our new apartment September 12 while hubby was gone to a work-related conference), I desperately needed a vacation, and Calgon couldn’t take me far enough away. My prayers were heard! I found an end-of-summer sale from one of the airlines, and purchased a unheard-of cheap plane ticket to Tennessee.
In an effort to get the most bang for the buck, I proposed spending half of my visit on a DIY writer’s retreat for one. My friend, who totally supports my dreams and goals, immediately agreed. The B & B is mine for two weeks. While she is taking care of her family, farm chores, and prior commitments, I will be focused on my writing. In the spirit of helping me achieve my goals, she has even suggested I may have to complete a daily word-count goal in order to get my meals–it seems to be the least she could do, right?
In preparation for my retreat, and based on the many suggestions I found while doing research on the topic, I have created a list of goals to accomplish during my two-week working vacation.
- Daily word count (wc) on weekdays will be not less than 2,500 new words. Those words may contribute to my “Morning Pages”/journal, this blog, or current WIP. Words applied to Facebook, Twitter, Text, or e-mail do not count towards my daily total. (The wc number was chosen to prepare myself for NaNoWriMo next month, in which the goal is to write 50,000 words/month towards a novel.)
- Revise my short story and get it to my editor (who has already been paid and cashed the check), ASAP.
- Start outlining/brainstorming my next novel. I have the general plot and main characters in mind for my next three novels, but have refused to work on them until I finish my current draft. Unfortunately the characters in the next novel are becoming loud and obnoxious, and are totally distracting me from the business at hand. Hopefully if I let them have an audience with me, and write down what they are saying, they will settle down so I can get back to work on my current work.
- Re-establish basic healthy habits. Due to my crazy past three months, I have not been faithful to my diet, sleep, or exercise goals. This is the perfect place to reboot as my friend understands and supports my low-fat, plant based, whole food, vegan diet. Additionally, farm life mandates getting up with the chickens (no rooster here), plenty of fresh air and opportunity for exercise, so I should be tired enough to get the solid eight to ten hours of sleep my body now requires.
- Read a book a week. I have Mariana by Susanna Kearsley, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and Outlining Your Novel by K. M. Weiland. …because if you don’t read, you won’t write well.
- Spend time doing things that make me happy. Many of the things that make me happy are here at Selah Farms: spending time with my friend-who-is-closer-than-a-sister, walking/hiking, bird-watching, horse-back riding, and enjoying nature.