What I Learned on my First Writing Retreat
A few weeks ago, the Handsome Husband and I went on a no kids trip to Washington DC. Never having been there before, I thought I could tour the sites in the morning, and then have my afternoons free to write blog posts and read all the delicious books, while he was in meetings.
Oh what I fool I was!
Washington DC is an incredible city. I didn’t realize the depth and breadth of the museum situation, nor the magnitude of all the historical sites. I toured my little heart out until I literally crashed one afternoon into my bed with a blaring headache from all the stimulation and noise and people.
Clearly, I did not open my computer even once.
I was lamenting to one of my besties, and saying that maybe we could get an airbnb for a night or two. In our city, whole apartments are really cheap. She could work on her master’s class and I could write.
To my delight, she thought this was a magnificent plan and offered up her family’s cabin, on a bluff above the Mississippi about a ninety minute drive away.
We went out for a nice dinner Friday night, stopped at the store for mostly healthy grub to keep us fueled all weekend and arrived around nine pm. We watched a movie (well, to be honest I fell asleep halfway through) and woke around eight to a gorgeous snowstorm.
Completely, slowly, and calmly, for the first time in forever, I read my Bible, brainstormed, and posted on social media until about ten. I wrote pretty much all day until about seven pm. We had pizza, lemon crumble and Moscow mules for dinner and stayed up way too late.
Sunday morning, I woke up gloriously tardy, read my Bible, a book, and attended church on-line. I thought I could do a webinar on growing your blog’s reach, but my phone’s internet connection was too spotty.
I wrote eight blog articles as well as the amazingly productive brainstorming session, before we had to clean up and head for home around four pm.
Feeling accomplished, I can’t wait to schedule my next writing retreat!
I learned a lot about what I loved, who I am, and what I’ll do differently next time.
Even with no kids around, I’m highly distractable.
I get preoccupied by ducks and herons. I’m startled by the chiming clock and the thumping furnace. Even with no wi-fi at the cabin, I still wanted to check my social media accounts quite frequently. I was able to put it off until after I would finish an article, and use my social time as a break. Having to wait on a slower cell signal helped me not want to do it as readily as I do at home. I would definitely suggest finding someplace with little to no internet if you really want to get some writing done.
I like to exercise.
At home, I start my day with a jump/jog/walk on my rebounder nearly every day. It really helps wake my brain up. We were here during a blizzard, but next time, I’ll plan to go for a walk in the mornings.
I can get a lot done with a body double.
Having Karen working in the same room as me on her class work helped me stay on task immensely. In the ADHD world, they call that having a “body double”. Another person here with me who doesn’t even have to be encouraging me or saying anything to me assists me to keep my focus on my goal. She served as a physical anchor for me to keep coming back to the tasks I wanted to do. Karen, just by being present, also provided a kind of calm reflection of how I wanted to be, which helped me absorb the message of “I am working. I am focused. I can accomplish this.”
I over pack.
On Saturday, I got up and wore what I’d slept in all day. I didn’t really need to bring separate outfits for each day. I brought my pillow, but I forgot to bring it into the house with me. I didn’t want to go out and get it in the blizzard and found I still got two great nights of sleep without it.
And I still don’t have what I need.
Luckily Karen was prepared with extra phone chargers and ear buds. My kiddo found the list of blog ideas that I had left at home and snapped a picture of it to send to me. I will try to make sure I have those with me next time.
If given free rein, I drink way too much coffee.
At home, I make my coffee with half teeccino so it has half the acid and half the caffeine in the mornings and switch to all decaf by noon. I like to have something warm to drink all day. Karen likes fully caffeinated coffee all day. I kept pace with my usual though, and then couldn’t fall asleep until past two a.m. Next time, I’ll make sure I stick with my regular regimen.
I buy too much food.
We had less than 48 hours in which we needed to feed ourselves at the cabin, but I bought enough for several days. I guess some part of me is afraid of starvation, or at the very least, not having just the perfect snack I am craving on hand. Still though, it was nice to have whatever I wanted to eat nearby, and to have a good selection of healthful foods along with the treats we brought. Since we stopped at Aldi, it was still really reasonable. I would probably buy too much food for future retreats too.
I can just write.
Usually, I do the entire process at once: write the article, revise and edit, find the photos, make a picture graphic, add links, and schedule or post it. Doing it this way seemed much more efficient. I liked doing a batch of articles all at once. Then from home, doing the other steps in another session will be a lot faster. I will definitely try to stick to this method.
My first writing retreat was definitely a hit. I would like to do this on a regular basis. Have you ever made a retreat for yourself to get some goals accomplished? What are your recommendations for success?