Lessons from my first writing retreat
As I sit here, it’s 9.34pm on a Sunday night – the last night of the inaugural Love Sabre writing retreat. As well as thinking about what I should be doing – namely finishing a manuscript – and not doing it, I’m thinking about what lessons I will be taking away from my first writing retreat.
To give a little background, this is the first Love Sabre retreat #lovesabreretreat2018 #lovesabreontour. As you might already know if you’ve been connecting with us on social media, Love Sabre is a group of seven women, all romance writers, who met at the 2015 Romance Writers of Australia conference in Melbourne. We’ve joined forces to kick each other’s asses on the road to publication. And we’ve written an anthology of short stories about sheathing your love sabre – but more about that later.
This year, we decided to take the opportunity to come together in the Alpine Valley of Victoria (Beechworth, in fact) to take four days together – and write. I can’t say that I’ve gotten that many words on the page, but I have filled my cup of inspiration (and more than a few cups of coffee) and I’ve gathered a few lessons which – of course – I’m going to share with you.
The first of those lessons is: this writing business requires DISCIPLINE. And I don’t have it. Yet. It’s something I talk about a lot, and something I appreciate in others (shout out to L.Simpson), but I struggle to find it. There’s always just one more quick check of Facebook, one more tweet, or one more Instagram post to send. Or, in this case, a blog post to write. Yep, I’m writing this instead of the WIP. If I’m ever going to FINISH THE DAMN BOOK, I need to find some discipline. Which means giving myself some deadlines and schedules, and sticking to them. And not ‘rewarding’ myself if I don’t hit those marks (i.e. no new series of The X Files for me… at least not until I’ve put words on a page!). Maybe I have to withhold coffee … Eek!
The second of those lessons is: FUEL. Fuel is required to write – not just imagination fuel, but actual fuel and, as much as it pains me to say this, woman cannot write on chocolate and coffee alone. You need good food. More greens. Good protein. And lots of water. And the occasional coffee (when it’s not being withheld!). You also need to take time to get up and move. Here, that’s not been a hardship because the outdoors is beautiful – lots of rolling hills, some cute animals and we’ve been lucky with the weather. But at home, sometimes, the last thing you want to do is go for a walk around the neighbourhood. It might be dark. Or too cold or too hot. Or raining. But suck it up Princess – because for your brain to work, your body needs to move.
The third – and final – lesson is JOY. In the last few days I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve laughed until I’ve cried. These women are hilarious. When I leave here tomorrow – and return to the day job, and the family and all the other bits and pieces that have to be dealt with on a day to day basis in ‘life’, joy may not be as easy to spot. So I need to remember to look for it in my day and to look for it in the simple things (and some in the not so simple too). Like horny horses, and rogue farts, and silly conversations about tight little bunches of grapes #injokes.
So, back to the anthology. Next month – in only twenty-one days or so – the Love Sabrists will be releasing (through Boroughs Publishing Group) their first anthology of short stories. Titled LOVE SABRE – the book is full of romantic shorts, ranging in heat level from sweet to spicy, and all of which somehow involve the sheathing of a love sabre. Releasing on 6 February 2018, it’ll be available in e-book and print on demand (from the usual retailers) and we’d love to hear what you think!