I just spent the weekend at a writers retreat, and it was sheer, unadulterated heaven.
Once upon a time, I used to sandwich writing time in between all the other aspects of my professional life. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning to write before going into the law office. I sat at ergonomically torturous hotel desks late at night after long days on the road as a librarian. I hoarded my vacation time, and I used those “free” days to write, write, write.
Now, writing is my day job. I write all day every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (and I do career support activities all day Tuesday and Thursday.) So why would I ever bother to go on a writing retreat now?
Part of it is the socializing, of course — the chance to chat with “co-workers” about the trials and tribulations of our “office”. (And, yeah, to chat about movies and books and families and all those other things you gossip about with co-workers.)
An even larger part of it is the chance to learn more about my job. This weekend, I picked up some formatting tips from one colleague. I learned about new online tools to help with newsletters. I heard about some great how-to-write guides that sound like they might help with some specific problems I’m working on. In short, there were lots of ideas being tossed around, all weekend long, and a lot of them were pertinent to my work.
But the largest part of why I go on writing retreats is because they make me productive. Yes, I have large chunks of uninterrupted writing time at home. But when I go on retreat, there’s a certain level of friendly competition — everyone else is working, so I’d best keep my butt in my chair and my hands on my keyboard so that I can be as productive as they are. Also, I need to make the time away from my husband and our home (and our very needy cats) worthwhile — I need to accomplish a *lot* to justify (to myself — my husband is always very supportive) the time away.
This weekend, I accomplished three major tasks. One of them would typically have taken me an entire work day to do. One of them would typically have taken me two to three days to do. And one of them would have taken at least three days, maybe more, because it was boring and full of fiddly bits that I most likely would have procrastinated about for far too long.
So, yeah. Retreats are still worthwhile. And now my to-do list is so long that my eyes are bugging out of my head. Small price to pay!Read More