Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The NCW Writers' Retreat: What Did I Accomplish?

When describing the Northern Colorado Writers' retreat at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch and the opportunities it offered, I offered the following possibilities:

1. I would have a maximum of twenty hours of writing/editing/revision time available, provided I skipped the Saturday night movie and didn't wander away from my work space during quiet writing times.

2. Knowing I churned out 13,000 words at last year's retreat, I hoped to add 15,000 words to my current WIP during the weekend.

My actual work time and word count came up short of those goals.

1. I documented my work time and found I'd done actual writing/revising a total of twelve hours and fifteen minutes. I spent an additional two hours reading over my hard copy of earlier chapters to check for inconsistencies and making notes on the pages.

More than two hours of potential working time was used to watch the movie (yes, I watched the whole movie -- Finding Forrester). The rest was used to walk outside, take pictures, work around the kitchen doing dishes or snacking, sleep, or just stare out the window, deep in thought.

2. The total number of words added to my manuscript was 7,101.

That's less than half of what I had hoped for. I am consoled by the fact that my novel took a couple of very interesting twists and turns I did not expect. I spent some of my twelve hours staring at my laptop, deep in thought, wondering what in heck my characters should do next. Whether typing or thinking, it was productive working time, in total silence, no interruptions.

With a renewed interest in my story, I was back to work yesterday, adding the next two scenes. With luck, the retreat was just the push I needed to get this first draft finished. My longer term goal is to have revisions and editing done in time to pitch the novel at the Northern Colorado Writers Conference in Fort Collins, Colorado, at the end of March.

The snow began Saturday evening and continued overnight, so we had plenty of photo opportunities as we walked to the lodge dining room for breakfast. Really, would you hide in that corner and write when you could walk through this scenery on your way to a hearty ranch breakfast that someone else fixed for you? I didn't think so.


Mason Canyon said...

The retreat sounds like it was wonderful. I can't blame you for not reaching some of the goals. You're right, it would be hard to write with all that to enjoy. Just think of it as a way to give your mind and creative side a short vacation where endless possibilities developed. Who knows, maybe something you did or saw in your relaxed time will fit perfect in your novel.

Carol Kilgore said...

Great experience! You had writing time AND recharging time. Both are important. I think it was a success.

Patricia Stoltey said...

You're both so right.

My novel takes place in January and my characters are now experiencing unexpected bad weather which just might turn into a major snowstorm. That weather was not in my original story outline.

And I'm definitely feeling recharged. I feel as if I'm back in the ZONE.

Kay Theodoratus said...

Happy writing ... and revising.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think you did really well, Patricia. I'm not as productive in long sessions as I am in short spurts (I know that doesn't make any sense, but it's how I operate!) It was a beautiful setting and it sounds like you got a lot done as well as having some time to relax.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Anonymous said...

I think you did well, 7000+ words over a couple days is impressive.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Looks like success to me!

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Nice photos, a nice time, and a wonderful word count...what's not to like? You mentioned the story going where you didn't expect. Just wondering, do you outline? I don't but am going to try to just a bit. I wonder if even those who outline get pulled off track.

Best wishes, Galen.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks to everyone who stopped by. I did a pretty good job of blog-visiting today and found some great posts. I'll be talking about one of them tomorrow.

Galen, after I've written the first two or three chapters to get a feel for story and characters, I do a narrative outline that reads like a poorly written synopsis. I constantly get better (or at least different) ideas as I write, so the outline is a dynamic document, subject to revision at any time. Even with the changes, it works better for me than having no outline at all.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Nice job, Patricia! I don't think I could have worked with that set-up shown in your picture, so my hat comes off another time to you for that. Give me the bed; that's what laptops are for (right?)!

Kerrie said...

The weekend was wonderful. Great photos. Thanks for sharing.