These days, most writers (whether amateur or pro) have to juggle their writing with day jobs, childcare, and a whole host of other responsibilities, and it can be difficult to find time for writing. Sometimes the answer is a writing retreat, but even the more affordable multi-day retreats are out of reach for a lot of us.
The answer could be one-day writing retreats. There are some organised ones, like the excellent Urban Writers’ Retreat in London, but if there’s nothing like that near you or you can’t afford it, setting aside an entire day to write in your local cafe or library is a great idea too.
Here are a few ways to make the most of a one-day writing retreat.
1 Have a plan and goals before you start. Take a bit of time before you go to decide which project(s) you’d like to work on, and gather anything you need to do that – reference books, notes, your half-finished draft. That way you can hit the ground running and get the most out of your day. If goal-setting is helpful for you, give yourself a word count target or a point you want to reach. (You can even pre-plan rewards or breaks for when you hit intermediate goals, if you find that motivating.)
2 Account for your optimal arousal level. Nope, this is nothing to do with writing erotica (although if that’s what you’re planning to do on your one-day retreat, best of luck!) Optimal arousal is about how much sensory input you like to have while you work. Some people can only concentrate with complete silence and stillness, while other people find that listening to music, or the background noise of a busy cafe, helps get them into the writing zone. Find out about the location where you’ll be working and make sure you have what you need to focus there, whether it’s headphones, a fidget tool or chewing gum and snacks.
3 Allow yourself breaks. Don’t get frustrated if the words aren’t coming. If you can, get up and walk around, stretch, and have a five-minute writing exercise ready to do to shake your brain up a bit.
4 Try banning yourself from the internet. Some organised writing retreats will already have arranged this, but if they haven’t, consider putting your laptop in flight mode or using an app that restricts your access to the internet. Give yourself permission to ignore the rest of the world for a day and just get absorbed in your work.
5 Bring a variety of things to write with/on. If you normally write on your laptop, bring a notebook too in case you find yourself flagging. Have post-it notes ready in case you want to do some quick and dirty rearranging of plot points. Switch to coloured pens if you slow down in the afternoon. A change of pace might be what you need to get you going again.
What helps you get in the zone on a writing day? Share your best tricks in the comments.