Writing Retreats – By Lynn Lorenz

I’ve been writing for years, since 2006, in either my living room or my bedroom, among my family and all their noise and TV/video/music. I’ve even written while the fireworks went off outside on July 4th and even New Years eve. As you may or may not know, I work a full time job also.

So when other writers claim they can only write in quiet, or alone, or with their favorite play list plugged into their ears, I’m perplexed. I don’t write to music because I sing along with all the songs and I can’t write while I’m singing. (like walking and chewing gum)

It’s never very quiet at my house, not with a TV, PlayStation, Xbox, and WII (or a combination) going at any time. And being alone has never been a real option for me, not with a husband, two kids, and a needy dog.

Now I’d been to Starbucks to write with friends, but it never caught on with me. I’d been to a friend’s house to write/brainstorm, but I usually spent my time working with other writers on their plots.

But about a year or so ago, a friend invited me to go to her vacation home to write. My interest was piqued, to say the least. The concept of going away to write had never occurred to me. So I went and had a blast. We brainstormed a bit, and wrote a lot. I finished a book with about 10K new words in two days.

And just like that, I was hooked.

So I started taking little trips with my daughter, who wanted to attend several anime cons in our area. At least three times a year she would ask to go. It meant spending at least a weekend in a hotel filled with costumed anime characters, jammed elevators, and lobbies you couldn’t get across without a machete and a guide.

But the good thing about these cons is that they are always held in hotels that have room service.

Ah, room service, you are my friend. I love you. Once I settle into the room and my daughter disappears into the throng dressed as “what/who the hell is that?”, I pull out the hotel guide and flip to the “in room dining” section. Room Service, thou art great! I set up my laptop, turn off the internet and bring up my Work In Progress.

And the writing starts. And goes and goes. And the words fly. Thousands of them. I’ve never spent a weekend away where I wrote less than 12K. So I reserve this time for the “big finish.” When I need to get that book done, I head off to the con. Or to my friend’s vacay house. Or just to a hotel.

Last weekend, joined by another writing friend, I drove to Kerrville, Tx (about 3 hrs from Houston dead west) and checked into a hotel/resort I found on Groupon. For $50 a night and a tank of gas, I stayed in a lovely room, ate at the hotel restaurant which was fabulous and cheap (dragged out by my writing buddy), and once she left, ordered my “in room dining.” And almost finished my next book, Tarnished and Jaded, a 1600’s Russian historical that had been in my WIP folder for nearly 4 years. I finished it this weekend and turned it into my editor. Fingers crossed, it was worth waiting for.

See, I can still write at home. But when I need to hit that deadline and really produce, going somewhere private really works for me. But the bulk of my writing is still in the evenings and on weekends.

So this December, my daughter is attending another anime con and I’m going, laptop included. I’m planning on laying out the plot of my next two Lynn Lorenz books and maybe, if I get it done quickly, starting on the first of a series of Theodora Lane novellas.

Not to mention, I’m on vacay from mid-December to the first week of January, and I plan on getting a lot of writing done during those days.

Of course, next year, when my daughter leaves the nest for college, it will be just me and my husband at home and I’ll have a lot of “quiet time.” I won’t have any reason to run away and write.

Damn it. I really like getting away. It’s funny, really. While I like getting the writing done, I also really like coming home again. Walking in and seeing everyone. Being glad to be there and glad to see people who are glad I came home.

That’s my writing retreat experience.

What’s yours?

10 thoughts on “Writing Retreats – By Lynn Lorenz

  1. Wow, I’m envious. I have a hard time writing on trips. I think it is because I hate traveling. It upsets my routine. I hate getting ready to travel and I hate catching up when I come home. I also miss my nest.

    Yes, I am a nester. I like writing in my special room in the house, set up and decorated to inspire me to write. I like my stuff around me and my desk top with its full-size key board. 🙂

    I can write with or without noise–I usually have the Food Network on as background noise or my ear buds in and my Writing Play List from iTunes Library playing — most of the music is stuff I ripped off CDs I own and put on my playlist — alternative rock and metal.

    I did manage to “fix” a book while on vacation. Last spring, at Disney World, I barely left the horribly expensive Disney vacation condo (only to eat and get my bottomless refill on soft drinks at the hotel food court) and doctored the first half of my SSI 3 book (this was after my crit partner ripped me a new asshole). So, I had to fix it and my hubby had already paid for the vacation. Needless to say I didn’t get my money’s worth out of the park multi-pass.

    Your $50 a night room sounds more cost-effective.


  2. I’ve only “gotten away” once just to write. My cover artist and I rented a cabin for two nights way back in the woods away from everything. There was a creek that ran right in front of the cabin. It was an amazing time! And beautiful.


  3. I love writing retreats because it takes me a while to get into the zone & that’s not always possible at home. I’m easily distracted by all the “should be doing” and “need to get done” things, so writing tends to be pushed back at home. But on retreat, nothing else has to be done! 🙂 My critique partners & I are trying to do one once every 3 or 4 months to get that kick in the butt that it provides, even if we do it at someone’s home to save money. We’ll take some time to brainstorm & talk out issues, but mostly it’s fingers on keyboard (with dance breaks). Last summer we went to Lake Travis & worked out a plot arc in my story while taking a walk! I really like to go to cabins because I like to sit on the porch with my laptop. If I’m by myself, I bring a cooler full of easy-to-make food for the kitchen & do a couple meals in town (notebook next to me for jotting down fleeting thoughts). With a group, we each take one main meal that we’re responsible for & bring snacks, drinks. We’ll eat leftovers the other meals. It works out great!


    • What a great way of doing things, Jessica! My next one might be in the spring in a cabin. There are some lovely ones on the Frio over by Uvalde. And I like the idea of sharing meals, if you’ve got a kitchen. This hotel only had a mini-fridge. I brought my own snacks cuz it was easy to carry them in a bag.

      I love the brianstorming parts too!


  4. While I love my Starbucks, and the group I join there most mornings, I’d love the *idea* of a beautiful retreat. The problem is, if there is lovely scenery to see, I’m not going to be writing. Just like listening to music with lyrics, you gotta sing along. And with gorgeous vistas, you gotta look!


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