Writing Retreat experiment – A cozy cottage

I mentioned in last week’s round up that I was going to be doing an experiment, but I didn’t say what it was. I went on my own little Writing Retreat!

Since March is the end of my work’s holiday year, I had a few days extra off, and the Easter weekend. I hunted high and low and ended up booking a cute cottage in the country out near inverness to go and write with my Chihuahua. (Spoiler, she loved it).

The idea for this came from Sarah Cannon, who I’ve been watching for the last few years. She goes away for a few days for things like Nano to get away and focus on her book. It’s been on my to do list for years, and I finally bit the bullet and did it.

My intention for the trip was to write between 6 and 8 hours for each of the full days I was there. It was a big goal, and I really didn’t think I was going to get over 6 hours, even with no distractions.

How much did I get done?

  • Tuesday evening – 2.5 hours (Not sure how many words as I didn’t separate from the ones I wrote before I left.
  • Wednesday – 9 hours of writing – 10,767 words
  • Thursday – 9 hours of writing – 6,059 words
  • Friday – 1 hour of writing – 588

In a normal week, I would write for 2 hours Monday to Friday and 3 hours on a Sunday. Which brings me to a normal total of 13 hours. For JUST this retreat, I totalled 21.5 hours, after counting Monday, which was 2, Friday, and Sunday (which I didn’t hit anywhere near my normal time writing) I doubled my normal week writing time.

At first glance, this looks great. But the word count goes right down on day 2. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know why the word count was lower, as I had to do an hour of re-plotting because I ran into an issue, and the section needed a lot more work. There was also a worse productivity on everything coming back Friday, and into Saturday and Sunday where the focus was so much harder to capture.

Was the Writing Retreat a success?

Maybe. Even with the lower output at the end of the week, I doubled my writing time. But could I get a similar, more consistent results at home by doubling the writing time each day instead of two 9 hour days? Well, that’s the next experiment.

Weekday 20 hours (5 * 4) + Sunday 6 hours = 26 hours


Full day 18 hours (2 * 9) + Normal day 2 hours + Extra/travel day 8 hours (4 * 2) + Sunday 3 hours = 31 hours

It seems like an extra 5 hours on the away week, but bear in mind I didn’t get that much done when I came home. But first, to have any hope of having a double my writing week, it means consistently improving my productivity at home, which was the while reason why I’d gone away. And also not having other holiday plans.

Did I learn anything that might help me repeat the experiment at home?

Three things were different about the process I used while away.

  • The Internet was patchy or just slow (though my phone was fine for signal, so I wasn’t too deprived ;))
  • I sat on the couch on this trip since there was no desk.
  • I changed my writing sprint to 2 * 25m writing and 1 * 10m break. I had been writing through the breaks because 5 minutes wasn’t worth stopping. 10m, however, is enough to get up and do something.

So, with the last two of these in mind, I’ve decided to try to shift where I write to my sofa. I have a laptop tray, and everything I need already, and maybe separating the space I game, work and do everything, with where I write will help create that focus mindset. As to the internet, there are ways to kill that on the laptop and it might come to that.

Will this change help? I don’t know, but I am going to try on Easter Monday to do 4 hours of writing (hopefully in the morning) and see what happens. Watch this space for more experiments.

Writing Retreat

My subconscious was definitely working in favour of a cosy writing retreat at the cottage because it wasn’t until I got there that I realised I had forgotten my jacket. While it was no longer freezing, it was wet, and not warm enough to be out and about without a one. Thankfully, I have the laziest Chihuahua ever, and she hides at the word ‘walk’, so she doesn’t really care.

Simi very much loved the trip away where she could bark at new things and snuggle next to me on the sofa and sleep (her favourite pass time).

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