So last weekend I headed off with a like-minded writer type to a cabin in the woods to get some serious writing done.

Here’s a glimpse of what that looked like:

Yes, there was some wine involved. I won’t deny it. It’s not a prerequisite for such weekends, but somehow always seems to be there, hmmm…

In the last few years I’ve started going off on a few of these weekend retreats – now the kids are just old enough for me to steal the occasional weekend for myself – and they are brilliant for getting writing work done. Sometimes I go with a group or on formal retreats – the Vic chapter Australasian Horror Writers Association retreats are amazing – and sometimes it’s just a couple of writing friends organising stuff ourselves.

Here’s all you need to know about retreats: plan what you’re going to work on before the time. I learnt this trick early. First retreat I ever went on, I didn’t have much of a work plan, and I faffed around between projects and didn’t achieve much of substance. Had find, mind. Didn’t regret a minute. But didn’t get a lot of serious writing done.

These days, I’m an old hand. I make sure I know what project is the priority project of the day, and that I focus on.

For this retreat I worked on revising a first draft fantasy romance, a fairytale if you will, with imprisoned princesses and a king of thieves and a hint of magic. And also, because it’s me, dark political intrigue, cynical pragmatism, complex revolutionary plots and lot of blood spilt. I do like a bit of politics in my fantasy romances.

Anyway, whether you go on your own, or set off with a group, or find a formal established retreat to attend, it’s a valuable experience I’d recommend to any and every writer. Seriously, writing with this view is pretty divine:

The only other tip I’d give is don’t drink too much of this stuff, or you’ll curse yourself when it comes to revision time…. 😉