Catherine Stine's IDEA CITY

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Writing Retreat Renewal

photo by Helen
Recently I invited a few writer friends up to my country place for a winter retreat. We call it Idea Farm (as opposed to my Idea City blog, which I usually write while in NYC). A writing retreat is something I need to do every 6 months. In the summer, a bunch of us go to a bigger retreat, so I wanted to return the favor. One person was sidelined by gall bladder trouble, so our troop was down to three people who trust each other and work well together. Shawne is a talented novelist writing about family ghosts and Helen writes short stories, novels and reviews.

It was a perfect time to get some serious work done because it was snowy and icy outside and the wind was howling like a rabid wolf. Inside, we kept the fire stoked. I should say Helen did because I suck at arranging logs and kindling.

Our schedule: wake at 8 am and imbibe multiple cups of coffee while we gossip, talk shop, and run details of our WIPs and ideas by each other. This includes what we should name our characters and how steamy the characters and love scenes can get. Lots of belly laughs and unconditional support. Before work, we trundle off to my studio, while trying to stay aloft on the driveway aka skating rink. Once there, Helen does yoga while I use my weights, rebound trampoline and do about 75 crunches. Shawne, the sensible friend stays in the main house.

Pond view from my porch,
photo by Helen
Next it's writing time, each person to their own station. Mine is by the fire. Shawne's is in the kitchen, Helen works in a small room to "contain her abundance of energy".

I get 5,000 words done. Seems like a pittance. BUT, I'm so fired up that I finish a 65 page novella the next week! Shawne is struck by cosmic inspiration and devises a genius structure for her next novel, while Helen revises, revises and does creative strategizing for her writing-related business.

In the evening we cook (salmon, pasta, veggie curry) and read the Tarot for each other. We don't take it seriously, but I do love my new Breugel deck! Check 'em out here, they're absolutely stunning! One of us may meet a new business partner, someone else should not get overly impressed by her boss. And hey, my "outcome" card was the sun, which made me happy (sun card= vitality, success, positivity)

Incredibly blurry but kinda cute photo of us!
I'm already looking forward to our July retreat by a beach in New England. In the meantime, I'm refreshed and on fire.

For a view of my messy writing space read Nutschell's Wednesday Writers' Space post! Also, I guest posted on Beth's 52 Blog about my thoughts on Show Don't Tell (Or as I put it, Evoke, Don't Bludgeon) . But first, don't forget to leave a comment! How do YOU renew your writing passion? Any great tips?

27 comments:

  1. Sounds like a fun and productive retreat!

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  2. Oh, wow! That sounds like an awesome retreat! I'm glad you got some writing done (and finished the novella!).

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  3. 5,000 words is no pittance, friend. Very well done.

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  4. I stoke my fire by staying out of e-mail, away from blogs, away from the washing machine, the TV, and my husband's interruptions. In order to do that I've been known to hang out at Starbucks or Peets for a while.

    Thanks for the question.

    B. Lynn Goodwin
    Managing Editor at Writer Advice, www.writeradvice.com
    Author of You WAnt Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers

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  5. Lynn, I hear you! I'll never forget the recent photo of Jonathan Franzen in his writing studio. It looked like a barren prison cell. No wonder he gets lots of writing done. I just took a short break from the Net, but I miss my online writing community and had to come back. It's a fine balance.

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  6. All of my retreats have been snow ones, but perhaps the 17 degrees forces one to the icy climes of one's psyche. Great post.

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  7. Wowzer, five thousand words would have me dancing. That's a good two weeks of writing for me. :P

    And what fun! That's why I head to my writer's conference each year for some actual face-time with other writer friends. Like a little energy boost.

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  8. Elisabeth, good one. Yes, sort of the opposite of brain freeze! LG, I'm glad that you get to one every year for your own energy boost.

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  9. That sounds fun. It's great to recharge our batteries now and then. I just took a few days off and am having trouble getting my head back in the trenches.

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  10. that's awesome that you can all get together!

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  11. Fantastic! I wish I had the time to do something like that. Maybe once the kid has gone to college. To renew my passion, I read and watch TV.

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  12. Sounds wonderful! I keep my writing passion alive by reminding myself I'm not getting any younger and I'd like to see my stories published while I can still see. :) Seriously, I just hide away in my writing room and and live in the world of my characters for a while.

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  13. Bev, well you go right ahead and hide out in your writing room with your characters! :)
    M Pax, you've been working super hard so you probably need a short break.
    Christine, hopefully you can get to a retreat before your kid goes off to college. I'm rooting for you.

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  14. That sounded so great! I'd love to do that myself.

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  15. This sounds like a wonderful retreat - and those Breugel cards are gorgeous.

    Plus, 5000 words - Holy Mighty Fingers! I am in awe.

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  16. Ah, this sounds amazing, Catherine! What a writerly getaway you provided. 5k in one day? Sounds like the retreat was productive. :)

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  17. Well, 5K in two days, and a lot of shop talk where I was structuring the project.

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  18. Thanks for bringing back such a wonderful weekend. I've made real headway on my read-thru of the novel since then. You guys gave me momentum. Thanks, too, for adding me to your blogroll. <3

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  19. Oh, my, you got so much done! A whole novella finished? WOW! Congrats and have a great week. :-)

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  20. That is a wonderful story, Catherine. Congrats on getting all of that writing done.

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  21. Catherine, sounds like a lovely writerly time! Wish I could have made it :( Love the view from your porch too. What a fab way to renew your writing goals and inspire motivation. I meet with some wonderful women writers weekly at Wegmans Cafe where we write, inspire each other, give advice and have plenty of those belly laughs too. I did one Fall retreat last year that led to a short story flying out of me that turned into a collection I have publishing this month. So a retreat with like-minded folks is a great way to juice up your writing with support. Perhaps I'll be able to make the next one!

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  22. That sounds spectacular. Totally jealous! Although I just joined a local writers' group of four and am finding it completely inspirational. I miss those old workshop days and am glad to have them back!

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  23. Hey, Jenny, good to hear from you and see your blog posts again.

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