Monday, March 21, 2011

Great Writing Weekend part 1

The first weekend of February I got together with several writing friends for an in-person weekend of food, fun, and (of course) writing. All this week I'll be blogging about how we came up with the idea, what we did, how it was organized, and most importantly, WHY we did this.

So why did we do this? Simple: it's a fun way to get outside opinions on your writing, plot ideas, and future concepts. While three of the writers were critique partners, hearing a chapter, or a part of one, read aloud is instant reaction: there's no going back looking for grammar problems or flow, you hear the chapter and you either want to hear more or you know why it's not working.

Creating a writer's weekend retreat:
Step 1: Figure out who to invite, where to hold this, and how long it's going to be. This is actually more important than you might realize. There were 6 of us (5 writing names) and 1 who couldn't make it at the last minute. It was a purposely small group; we met at a house, after work on Friday evening through Sunday afternoon.

Step 2: Make an agenda. be specific but be flexible. Writers love to talk their stories, which I'm sure you know! So while the agenda may say: 30 minutes each for chapter 1, tangents do happen. Keep an hourglass or stopwatch nearby to time it. Gently steer the conversation back onto the right path and don't be too strict with the time.

Step 3: Have food. And snacks. And a conveniently located bathroom. Also make sure the meeting area is a comfortable temperature, there's nothing worse than freezing or sweating while you're trying to work, and has comfortable chairs for everyone. Not just a nice couch to lounge on, but a straight back chair for someone with back problems, etc.

Step 4: Be prepared and make sure everyone else is, too. Bring a laptop, USB drive, paper, pens, folders, whatever you need. This isn't a workshop, this is for you to actively work on your stuff. And yes. You will forget it. Better to write it down or record it than sob over that lost brilliant idea later.

Tomorrow: How we broke our agenda down and how it really worked out.

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