Friday, May 8, 2009

My Writing Retreat Weekend

If you’re a regular reader of YAedge or follow me on twitter, you’ll remember that I was on a writing retreat with a friend of mine this past weekend. I thought it would be fun to share my experiences of what worked for us, and what didn’t.

Location, location, location.(above are actual gardens we worked in)

This is VERY important when choosing where to go. We went to Solvang, a sleepy town in San Ynez Valley (between southern and centeral California) mostly known for windmills and their amazing Danish food. It’s definitely a tourist trap, but a place you take the family to get out of Los Angeles or Santa Barbara for the day. Not many people stay overnight, unless you are there for an event (the weekend we were there, a wine bike tour went through…yes, you read that right. Wine. Bike. Tour. Don’t ask me, I have NO clue.) Anyway, although it’s a day stop, there are wonderful and affordable Bed and Breakfasts, as well as small hotels. We were lucky enough to stay at the Solvang Gardens Bed and Breakfast, known for their beautiful gardens where guests can hang out, enjoy wine, and in our case, write.

Sounds perfect, right? And it was! The weather was nice, despite a little rain and wind. We sat in the gardens you see in the photo above, for most of the mornings and days we were there and our room was awesome. We even mentioned to the owners we were there to write, so whenever they saw us with our computers plugging away they would cheer us on. The greatest appeal to us as far as getting work done was there isn’t much to do in Solvang. Once you eat at a few Danish bakeries and check out a couple kitschy shops, you’ve seen Solvang. Most everything closes at 7-8pm (including restaurants which we found out the first night we went to eat dinner), so there was only one thing left to do…write! This was KEY. We weren’t distracted by the town, didn’t feel pulled to do anything else but write. When selecting a place for a writing trip, this should be your #1 question. Will I be distracted?

Be prepared.

Now, this sounds obvious, but it always isn’t. The small things we take for granted in our home offices…post its, pens, highlighters, research books, Internet and of course power (chargers for all your gadgets), might not be available to you wherever you’re traveling. Luckily, we put our two heads together before the trip and thought of most anything we needed. Because we were traveling by car, we didn’t have to worry about our bags being too big or heavy. I would also add a book that inspires you, as well as your mp3 player (or some kind of music) to help through the writing droughts while there. I know certain music gets me in the writing mood. Also, when selecting a location, make sure they have WiFi, unless you think you may be distracted by it. I was still during research for my new book idea, so it was essential to have Internet access.

Have a goal.

Once we got to Solvang and settled in, we both set goals for our weekend. Although I set mine high and didn’t necessarily hit all of them, I was happy with what I got done because it was still a lot. We were there from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning and I was able to finish my lore, rewrite my synopsis and write part of the prologue and chapter one. My goal was to finish up both the prologue and chapter one. That didn’t happen, but I accomplished much more than I EVER would have at home. That made the whole trip worthwhile.

The important part is to have fun, yet get work done! Fortunately, we were able to accomplish both.


Tracy Belsher said...

Beautiful setting - I was inspired by the pics alone. Excellent suggestions for anyone planning a similar retreat.

Now I wanna go on one.

Tami Klockau said...

LOL, thanks Tracy! I'm telling ya, we have to plan one for the group!