6 Keys for a Writing Retreat: Behind-The-Scenes of a Successful One

Martha's Vineyard pic
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Matha's VineyardBetween mentioning in my newsletter that I was “heads down” on a writing retreat and sharing on Facebook that the first day of writing generated over 7,000 words, we received several requests asking “How” was I doing it.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at this week’s writing retreat:

  1. Found a place I could hang out with no distractions — in this case, a house on Martha’s Vineyard during the off-season.
  2. Knowing that the week would be super quiet, spent the weekend with my sister, brother-in-law, husband and 3 16-year-old girls celebrating my niece’s 16th birthday party at the Vineyard.
  3. Stocked up on groceries for the week so there’d be no reason to leave — including a celebration dessert for when the book was finished and sent to the printer.
  4. By the time Sunday came and they all left, I was okay with having the quiet time. 😉
  5. Monday morning, green protein smoothie in hand, I jumped right in — freeflow writing on the topic “The Art of Extreme Client Care™”.  No editing.  While I had an outline and draft I’d written previously, I was feeling the urge to start everything fresh.

Monday was my most productive day.  All weekend I’d mentioned, both out loud and to myself, how great Monday was going to be and how easily things would flow.   You see I’ve been working on this project for too long — it’s one of those critical projects where whenever it was time to work on, things happened/intervened/conspired to result in it not getting done.

Therefore it was critical that I leave that “baggage” behind and come into the retreat with the mindset that it was going to be a fabulous writing experience resulting in a book going to print.

I ended Monday with a little over 7,000 words — or 32 8.5 x 11″ pages.

The key for me was that I did nothing related to the book Monday evening.  Spent the evening vegging out on “Criminal Minds” (a little freaky being in a strange house alone, but it took my mind off the book!) and sipping peppermint tea to the howling wind.

I “knew” that Tuesday wouldn’t be as productive due to some client calls I didn’t wish to reschedule.  Unfortunately, thinking that I’d be less productive going in, truly resulted in my being less productive (I’d treated it as if it were a foregone conclusion).  Tuesday evening and around 10,000 words total.

Wednesday and Thursday consisted of a lot of write, delete, rewrite, read that again, “What was I thinking”, delete, rewrite until finally, by 1pm on Thursday, I had a good 75 pages (14,000+ words) total.

A big part of my personal editing process is to read it out loud. . .and so I did.  My assistant Gina came this morning for some business planning we wanted to do at the end of the retreat.  Lucky for her, she heard me read the book.

More changes.

And on Friday, it went to print.  🙂

6 Key Take-aways for a Successful Writing Content Retreat (yes, the strikeout is intentional)

  1. Have a goal going in.  Whether it’s to finish a book, write several articles/blog post, create a new free giveaway, record videos, whatever.
  2. Go someplace different from where you usually write and work (if you can’t go somewhere else, at least move to a different room in your home so the view is different and you’re not surrounded by your usual work “stuff”).  Someplace without distractions.  Tell yourself and others how much you’re looking forward to having a productive retreat.
  3. Bring all drafts, notes, outlines that you may have.
  4. Go with the flow.  If the draft and outline you bring are distracting, set them aside and start fresh.  Let your mojo be your guide.
  5. When you feel the need for a break, take it.  Don’t force yourself.
  6. Have something to do/occupy yourself that’s NOT related to your writing project for when you’re “done” for the day.

When will your next writing, nay, content retreat be and what’s your goal?