Last weekend I went away with my writing group for a retreat. And after all the preparation I had done in readiness (see last post), I was more than eager to get there and get thinking.

Every time I go away with this group of writers, I am amazed at how little  much I achieve. Usually I do a lot of walking. After all, isn't that meant to help the creative cogs churn? Some may call it procrastination but I call it 'clearing the head'.

Most retreats I do a LOT of 'clearing the head.' But as I was so prepared this time, I actually got a lot done.

You may notice pad and pen at the ready. And if you zoom in it actually says 'we solve the world's problems, one sip at a time.'

Not that there was a lot of drinking done...

This was at a lovely restaurant where we went to help celebrate two milestone birthdays. The food divine...and afterwards a nice 'clearing the head' along the pier.

It wasn't all sunshine and clear skies....there was some grey skies, a bit of rain, bit of sun...

and a rainbow sighted from our abode.

You are probably wondering where, amongst all this 'clearing of heads' and wining and dining was there time for writing. There was lots. There was usually a chat while we breakfasted but before the kettle was on for the second cuppa, we were all working industriously on our projects.

The silence ruled. At times the kettle would call...or perhaps time for a nibble. We worked away until a late lunch. Food was put out, devoured, dishes done then a return to the silence with an occasional tapping of keyboards and scratching of pens.

After our evening meal we would chat about our progress, or lack thereof, of books being read and those we intend to read. We would chat about plot problems and future character assassinations...about ideas and notions and how to weave concepts seamlessly.

We were also given tasks to perform. The majority of these tasks were related to the work we were doing. One was given the task of two hours of absorbed writing with no interruptions, another to ponder which angle to focus her next major piece, one was asked to come up with ten ideas for poetry/ short stories.

I was given the worst task...the hardest task. To write down 12 things good about my writing.

I began slowly....had four down after five hours. After a few drinks that night, another few were jotted down.

The remainder were like pulling teeth. Very hard to get down but by the Sunday morning, I had listed 12 good things about my writing life.

It is a list I intend to print out and place above my computer, to help in my self belief. In those times when I doubt my abilities and writing skills, wonder if I should join a book club instead.

Not only did I achieve this, I wrote one poem, began a short story, took notes of some of the wittiest and craziest (often by the same people) comments made. I also did what I set out to do. I read, and made copious notes on the novel (WIP). The entire 55 000 plus words.

I even had several AHA moments when I realised a character couldn't be who they think they are, when someone's surname changed half way through and that the time line was all screwed.

I returned home, not only glad of the chance to surround myself with the wisdom of fellow writers but with a renewed enthusiasm for what I am doing.

We all need a slice of encouragement, an understanding of what we are trying to achieve and the acknowledgement of why. Time away with like minded people, who understand the highs and lows of this self induced torture we put ourselves through.

People who are willing to listen and support. To ask those difficult questions and offer a shoulder when rejections outnumber the acceptances.



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