Last weekend, a friend and I went away for our own little writing retreat to make time for writing. It was nothing formal, just her and me renting out an Airbnb in the local countryside for two days. The weather was cool and rainy, we were surrounded by trees, and the mountain view from the house was full of rolling mists, swaying trees, and birds. The perfect writing motivation. We didn't feel bad for staying cooped up inside, and if we needed nature, we could huddle up with a coffee at the outdoor seating area and look at the view and listen to the birds. The perfect mini writing retreat.
Why did we go on a mini writing retreat?
Both my friend and I have busy jobs that keep us and our brain space occupied elsewhere with very little time for our author dreams. I can't speak for her, but I love my job and I don't think I'd ever stop to become an author full time even if I had the choice, so I have to find ways to make time for my writing and achieving my author dreams in the small side hours I do have. Making time for writing is a must for me.
Each day, I get up at 4:30 am to do 50-60 mins of writing before work. It doesn't feel like enough. I'm thinking of making it 4 am when the mornings get less cold and brighten up again. I like to make the most of the quiet morning hours when my mind is fresh and most creative and use the benefits of compounding: small pieces adding up to make something bigger.
Even then, I often have the urge and the wish to be able to sit and write for much longer, and my friend and I were talking about how we wanted to be able to just sit and have a big chunk effort of writing, planning next projects, and just have time we could dedicate to writing. So we planned a trip away together to make that happen.
If you love writing too, I'm sure you'll understand how important making time for writing is. And if your daily life is also too busy to make lots of time for writing, I highly recommend taking a couple of days off here and there for it, even booking an Airbnb in the countryside where it's quiet for a mini writing retreat to make it happen. It just gives you that writing reset time, the ability to focus purely on what you're writing, not feel guilty about not doing anything else, and reset your writing habit.
What did I do while we were away on our writing retreat?
I'm actually amazed at what we both achieved last weekend. I loved hearing about the work my friend got up to, and I'm pleased with what writing I got up to:
Wrote 8,000 more words of the first draft for book two in my Dynasty Codes series.
Plotted by hand a new project separate to the series I'm cooking up. I had the idea for this new project while I was on a bus into Brisbane city a while ago, and the main character visited me and gave me lots of clues for the story and his thoughts, so I scribbled (literally, because of the bus!) a load of notes for it. I finally got to plot it!
Chatted about lots of nerd stuff with my friend.
Read more of the Share Your Work! book by Austin Kleon, which I'm finding awesome for inspiration and making me feel more encouraged to share my work with you all.
Planned on the computer the chaptering for the new project that I got the idea from on the bus, and wrote prompts and notes for each chapter, totalling about another 8,000 words that will help me write the first draft. I find it most useful to write a few lines or a paragraph of what will happen in each chapter, ready for drafting.
Curled up under a blanket on the floor while writing, falling asleep for a tactical nap! (I wish I could say it was tactical. It was totally accidental, but obviously well needed.)
Spoke with my friend about the two writing projects she was working on, and about my Dynasty Codes series. Speaking with writing friends about projects and sharing ideas is great for encouragement and also for ironing out any areas you might be finding challenging.
And, more important, just gained more motivation, writing happiness, and reinforced our writing and creative habits.
Why you should go on a mini writing retreat with a writing friend
If you want to plan your own mini writing retreat to make sure you're making time for writing, I encourage you to invite a writer friend along.
I think, had I gone alone, I might not have done quite so much. It was having the fun, warm writing company and the book chats and talking about ideas, skills, grammar, and other little writing questions or fun nerd conversations we had now and then that kept me most in the zone, and it meant we could keep the weekend dedicated to writing, ideas, skills. Find someone you can have those sorts of chats with whenever you're having a writing break.
What we'd do is write for a while, maybe an hour, then have a rest and a chat with a snack or a drink, then write again for a while, maybe asking a few quick questions but mostly focusing until the next break. Having those dedicated writing times and then a break to chat about what we'd been doing was a great way of breaking it up and making sure we were still motivated to continue.
Will I plan another mini writing retreat to make time for writing?
100%! I think any writer should give themselves dedicated time to their writing life. The daily world can be busy, full of distractions, stress, and other obligations. Making time for writing can be challenging daily, so setting aside a couple of days somewhere peaceful will really help.
It's been a long time since I was able to be that productive with writing. So many words in one weekend as well as planning and discussing other ideas and just living the writing life is too awesome to pass up the opportunity to do it again!
So, if you're thinking about taking some time out for yourself to follow your dream and make time for your hobby or goals, absolutely go for it! Make sure you make time for what you want to do, and you'll feel all the more awesome for it.
See you next time,