But...... chatting up a storm and getting writing done generally don't go hand in hand. So what's the number one secret to getting way more writing done?
Yes, writers are a chatty bunch. But we're also a competitive bunch, and we really like to win. (Plus, we really like to see that word count climb, so we've got that constantly working in our favor.) There's probably about a billion ways to bring competitiveness into writing, but we did two things.
The first was one the fabulous Elana Johnson suggested. We each brought a prize, and put all those prizes into a pot. The prizes don't have to be big-- we had various kinds of chocolate, fancy notepads and pens, an Amazon gift certificate, etc. Every so often throughout the day, we'd have a writing sprint. We found that 45 minutes worked best for us, but you can do them for any length of time. Then, the person who wrote the most in that 45 minutes got to choose a prize. And ohmygosh. Never did I imagine that eight non-sleeping people in the same room could be so quiet!
The second was an overall prize for the person who wrote the most words over the course of the retreat. Again, this could be anything. As an example, our writing retreat's official name was The Writing Retreat of Joy and Awesomeness, so the person who won overall was crowned Queen of Joy and Awesomeness. Each of us added to the prize pack for the winner and lemme tell you: THAT was what kept people burning the midnight oil to get in a few more words, then waking up much too soon in the morning. How could you stay in bed when you saw your competition already adding to their word count?
The second secret to having a good writing retreat?
Not as big of a factor as contests, of course, but it definitely makes a difference! Imagine a noisy hotel with elephants stampeding above you. Or an office building, where the floors and walls are all gray. Now, imagine a comfortable mountain cabin tucked next to a lake or stream. Or a high-rise overlooking a beautiful city. These may be extreme examples, of course, but some locations definitely are more conducive to creative juices flowing than others. Location matters. And the third secret:
The better you eat, the better your brain works, right? The right food can make those late nights / early mornings not so painful. Not to mention the better the food, the happier the retreaters. :)
So what about you? Have you ever been on a writing retreat before? How was it? And if you could choose to go ANYWHERE on a writing retreat right now, where would you go?