Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Writing Retreats and Cool News!

Monday afternoon, I returned from a rather amazing 4 days of retreat. Given the questions I was getting on Facebook about how I pulled off the word counts I did, I thought I'd take today to chat a bit about this writing retreat. =)

Over the course of three full days and a couple stray hours on Thursday night, I wrote 49,000 words. That's nearly half of my book. I was at 66K when the weekend started, and I finished it up at 115K. I have never before written so much in so short a time. I have certainly never before written over 18,000 words in one day, like I did on Sunday--hurtling toward The End. But there were a few key ingredients to make it possible.

1.) Quiet and No Distractions
This is about all that's within view of us at the cabin. Not much. All quiet. Ahhhhhh.

This is our whole purpose for having a writing retreat every year. Stephanie and I both have small children, which means interruptions aplenty. Interruptions we would never want to go without--our kids certainly come first--but which can get frustrating when we don't get solid work time for months on end. Especially when under deadline--ahem. Having a few days when no one is at our elbow asking for our attention is a rare treat.

2.) Focused Mindset
Stephanie. Very focused. Very, very focused...

Tying in with that, knowing we're going to have solid time with no distractions means we can be in the right frame of mind. We know this time is coming. We plan for it for months. We go in determined and focused, and unlike those days when I think, "Oh, look, an hour of quiet--I must focus! [Oh look, an email!]" This is time we pay for. We invest in. No way am I going to squander that! (Which should really be a lesson to me as to how I approach those stray hours too...)

3.) Preparation for the Physical
We didn't think to take pictures of the crammed inches of counter space teeming with
fruit, pretzels, and CHOCOLATE...

On the average day, I stress about dinner. And have to stop to get three different lunches. And breakfasts. And must approve snacks. During this weekend, a quick trip to the market give us a few solid choices for quick meals. The only thing we have to think about it, "Soup or salad?" A two minute conversation, and Stephanie and I can decide if we want to take a break and walk over to the little restaurant for a sandwich or have a working dinner. There's very little thought involved at the time--it's all been done ahead. With all our needs already planned for and met (including several bags of chocolate...), a major daily distraction is eliminated.

4.) Instant Brainstorming
A beautiful foggy morning in the mountains is so inspiring!

I like to think that I could be so productive if by myself too, but honestly, I have no idea. At the moment, the 3 retreats I've been on have all been with Stephanie. And that's worked out amazingly. Stephanie and I write at approximately the same pace, and we know each other very well. That means we can push each other onward ("I just hit 4,000 words! Where are you?") without making the other feel like a slacker. And it means that we know we can interrupt the other for very quick brainstorming, like, "So how would you react if you learned your boyfriend had spread this lie about you?" (My answer to which, by the way, was "NO! CHASE CANNOT DO THAT TO ELLIE!" She didn't listen. *Sigh* LOL.) This super-fast help steering over bumps is fun, refreshing, and oh so helpful.

5.) Plotting Ahead of Time
Me with my notes beside me and all crucials--like water and M&Ms--on the table at my side

I'm not an outliner, not fully. The first half of a book is complete discovery for me. I write, I see where the story takes me, what characters emerge as prominent. But by the mid-point of a book, I know where I'm going and where I'll end up, and I have a good idea of the path I should take to get there. My previous two retreats, I was in the beginnings of my novels. I went into the weekend with a few ideas for particular scenes but mostly with some general, sweeping ideas. This time, being at the end of the book, I was a lot more particular. I wrote down every scene I needed between where I was and the end, sorted by POV. I printed it out, color coded it, and felt pretty happy with it. I had 29 scenes to write, and I hoped it would land me in my target word count.

I found this method to be extremely productive for this weekend, this portion of my book. I never really had to stop and wonder where to go next--though of course, one little tweak I made ended up with reordering, deleting, and merging of scenes, and adding 2 I didn't expect. But those were easy changes to make. And for the first time, I finished my manuscript on retreat. On the same day that Stephanie did. Which was really awesome, and made an ice cream break thoroughly deserved. =)


When I got home, it was to the realization that The Lost Heiress was in the hands of the marketing and promo teams at Bethany House, and the cool emails started pouring in! I've begun my launch prep, including putting together a team of influencers to help me spread the word, putting up a page with extras on my website--and I also got the news that it will be made into an audio book! This is my first audio book, so that's pretty darn exciting. =) I can't wait to hear how it turns out!

I've filled my slots for those who get a complimentary book (over-filled it, actually), so I can't promise any more of those, but if you plan on purchasing one (or read it through NetGalley, where it just arrived) and would like to be on the team and help spread the word about The Lost Heiress, I'm happy to add you to my private Facebook group for influencers! There will be a special prize or two open just to my team during the month of September, and we'll be sharing ideas on where to post reviews, creative ways to spread the word, etc. Just leave a comment below with contact info, send me an email at roseanna at roseannawhite dot com, or message me on Facebook. We need to be friends there in order for me to add you to the group.

1 comment:

  1. I love reading about writing retreats. I'm not sure why but I find it very motivating! Maybe I should try something similar this summer and see what happens! I think that writing 49,000 words in three days (and a bit) is VERY impressive. You must be thrilled to have finished writing (if not editing!) the Ladies of the Manor series! :)