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Sunday, 25 January 2015

Writing retreat - that's a retreat to DO writing, not FROM it...


Just for a change I’m not writing this in the depths of my bed.  It’s a change for me, obviously, not for you, because you haven’t got a clue where I am when I’m doing it – for which you should all be very grateful actually because I know how easily alarmed you all are.  No, today I am writing this from the depths of a church hall somewhere in Barnsley.  At least, I think it’s Barnsley,  it’s somewhere like that anyway.  Begins with a B. Isn’t ‘Bahamas’.  Which brings me to my topic of the day…
I am here because I am on a ‘Writing Retreat’. My RNA Chapter (no, not really much like the Hell’s Angels, although we are capable of some quite extreme levels of annoyance when Pudding Wars break out and there’s not enough chocolate fudge cake to go round) have taken ourselves to this very hall for a day’s solid writing, away from the evil influence of the Internet, electric blankets, day time television and, in my case, a cute puppy.  We’re here, sitting in rows like very single minded exam candidates, writing away.  And it’s great! My mind has rarely felt so concentrated! There’s nothing like a room full of people surrounding you for making you aware of every SINGLE toilet break or cup of tea that you just ‘have’ to have!  There’s no distraction, because you know that if you spend the next twenty minutes staring at the ceiling, SOMEONE WILL NOTICE.  And, furthermore, you will be unable to fib your way out of non-production on the grounds of ‘research’.  No.  You sit in front of your screen and you type as if your very life depended upon it.
Like this.  It's a veritable story-factory in here...
 Now, I understand that popular writers’ retreats are usually located in places like Italy and France, where people go to be fed four-course dinners, lie in the sun and apply themselves to their writing.  Well, if this isn’t a financial option (as for most of us it isn’t, as even the one-course dinner can be a little budget-straining), can I recommend the Village Hall option?  We’ve got electricity, heating, a kettle, and we’ve brought enough food to be able to barricade ourselves in and survive any but the most determined zombie apocalypse.  Okay, we don’t have a swimming pool, but why would we want one?  We’re supposed to be writing not perfecting our breast-stroke.
I assume this is a hotel.  I don't know, I've never seen one in real life...

I’ve just noticed.  There’s netting across all of the windows.  And they appear to be sealed shut.  Hang on, I’m going to try the doors.  If I’m not back in ten minutes, call for help….

6 comments:

Just Another Bloke said...

It was an amazingly productive day!(7,000 words)

My first Writing Away-Day. Roll on the next.

John

Karen Critchley said...

That just as about sums the experience up for me too. And I've not been in a hotel like the one pictured either. Much better in church hall with baked potatoes,tea and cakes. 9436 words I managed. I'd have been lucky to do a 1000 at home.
And for anyone who's wondering we got out ok :-) xxx

Jane Lovering said...

Well done, John! I got to near enough the 8,000 mark so was v pleased.

And Karen...you're OUT? Quick, shove the key in under the door....

Chris Stovell said...

I've often wondered how useful writing retreats can be, after all, it's pretty quiet and isolated here, but goodness you've all been jet-propelled by it! 8,000 words! Wow! Well done!

Jane Lovering said...

Chris, where I live is pretty isolated and quiet too, but it was more the 'no internet and absolutely nothing else to distract' that worked for me. Home has books and magazines and biscuits and dogs and kittens and the laundry and...well. You see what I mean?

Elaine Everest said...

We sometimes hold a one day writing retreat where I teach my classes in Dartford. Everyone brings a plate of food for the communal food table and there is a water urn in the corner on boil.
The output is amazing in one day and we have the added bonus of a writerly chat at lunchtime.
We go step further and rent a cottage for four of us in Whitstable during the off peak season and just write/drink wine/chat/visit local restaurants/chat/have a good time!