Self-Imposed Exile

This weekend, I was supposed to be at a two-day writing workshop, which I had booked some time ago and was really looking forward to. I’ve been a bit scattered with my writing since completing the first draft of my second novel over the summer, and I thought I would benefit from some structure and some outside guidance.


Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, the workshop was cancelled, leaving me with a completely free weekend to myself, since my husband had already booked a trip to an annual board games convention. I could have enjoyed a lazy, indulgent couple of days at home. But instead, I decided to create my own structure to get some writing done. I know I benefit from scheduled writing sessions out of the flat and from organised writing retreats out of the county. So, I planned my own personal writing retreat.


I picked an Airbnb in Maidstone because it’s the other side of London to where I live but close enough that it wouldn’t take long to get there after work on Friday night. It was also very close to a station and within walking distance of the town centre, so it would be easy for me to get supplies. I was originally intending to travel back into work from the Airbnb on the Monday morning, but then everyone was rewarded with an extra day’s holiday where I work, so I booked the Monday off in order to enjoy a relaxed departure.


I haven’t been feeling very focused or productive this week, so I was worried that all I would do would be to eat too much and watch TV on my laptop. But, at my writing session on Thursday, I built myself an ambitious writing schedule for the weekend. And, by the time I had arrived at my Maidstone getaway on Friday and had some dinner, I found I was actually keen to get started on my writing.


My only complaint about the Airbnb was the lack of a teapot but that was easily rectified by a trip to House of Fraser on Saturday morning, and I actually kept entirely to my schedule for the whole of Saturday, working on four different projects and making significant progress on some stories that have been seriously lagging of late.


Sunday was a bit more freeform, since I woke up keen to continue with one particular project, rather than the ones listed on the schedule, so I gave myself permission to diverge from the plan, and actually completed both a longer morning writing session and a first draft. By dinnertime on Sunday, I had achieved more than I expected, if not exactly my stated goals.


So, a solo trip away and focused sticking to the plan (in terms of timings if not content) really worked wonders for my productivity! Might I have achieved the same if I had written the same schedule but just stayed at home? Perhaps. But I’m not sure I would have come up with the same plan if I hadn’t made the effort to set aside the weekend as a specific writing retreat and paid good money for accommodation just for that purpose. Maybe I could try a similar thing at home another time, knowing the power for a written schedule.


Anyway, I’m very glad I did this, and even more glad that I found the energy and the motivation to make the most of it. Sometimes, a change is better than a rest!




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