What do you get when you combine three published author bloggers and me, a converted hospital, rolling countryside, pig farms, beautiful beach huts and a spare weekend?
A self-made writers retreat.
Yes, I’ve just spent the weekend in a gorgeous house with my blogger friends Sacha, Helen and Geoff with the purpose of using some rare free-time and utilising each other’s knowledge, experience and skills to not only attempt to catch up with our writing goals, but to take the opportunity to throw a few ideas around and get some immediate feedback on what we were working on. Geoff had very kindly offered to host us at his home, which was part of a converted former hospital.
The result was several days of fun with some of my favourite people. We talked, laughed, shared some of our work and listened to each other’s playlists as we were grafting through it. I not only managed to keep up with my social media activities and create lots of content, but also got lots of ideas as to the direction I need to be moving in after reaching my ultimate blogging goal, which was something that I had been really struggling with. What I found particularly fascinating was listening to their conversations about the creation of a self-published book – pricing, formatting, the tech and services they used and the different processes involved – in my naivety I assumed that it would be far less complicated and time consuming once the final manuscript had been finished. It was incredibly inspiring.
It wasn’t all just writing, however. To allow ourselves some headspace and have a break we drove into Southwold, which happened to pass by a lot of pig farms – something I had never seen before despite growing up in the countryside – and it was incredibly cute to see all of the newborn piglets running around in the mud. I have a feeling that my excitement and exclamations of ‘ooh! Piggies’ may have been a little confusing… The weather wasn’t particularly great (it’s England – nothing unexpected there) but the chance to walk around by the coast was very much needed – it’s a luxury when living in Birmingham unless you’re prepared to travel.
Here are a few more things that I took away from the weekend…
- Monty Python songs, particularly when played very loudly, can be incredibly amusing for some and certainly not for others, and may result in ‘Every Sperm is Sacred’ being permanently on a loop in your head for several days afterwards…
- Helen and I have exactly the same musical tastes.
- Swear words are far more effective and amusing when combined with seeming randomly chosen suffixes.
- Endless amounts of fun can be had with the mirrors on Southwold Pier
- It’s not a good idea to slip in the bath first thing in the morning, particularly when you fall on your writing arm.
- Geoff makes a fabulous vegetable lasagne.
- The rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows that accompanies the writing of a book can change frequently within the space of an hour.
- There is no such thing as too much cheese and it is apparently never too cold to eat gelato.
- The only way to celebrate the completion of a first draft is to lie in the floor, face down, after doing a mini lap-of-honour in the kitchen. Sacha demonstrated this perfectly…
- Getting to Southwold from Birmingham is not an entirely easy task when traveling via train as there are no direct routes across the country. The resulting journeys involved 4 car rides, 6 trains and about two hours spent waiting on platforms.
- I have the natural ability to effortlessly look like a plonker wherever I go…
What about you guys? Have you ever been on a writers retreat?
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