This weekend I participated in my first “official” writing retreat as a member of Oregon Writers Colony. As a member, I have access to Colonyhouse, an idyllic cabin boasting views of both the stunning Oregon Coast and the beautiful Lake Lytle. With it being NaNoWriMo, I wanted to attempt to take a full weekend to write, escape to this cabin and close myself away, free from all the distractions at home, and write away with the goal of getting to 15k words and getting a good head start on my novel.
I carpooled to the coast with a friend and fellow writer, and after arriving at the cabin, we called it a night early, hoping to get a head start writing on Saturday. After breakfast, I took a phenomenal stroll on the beach to get my creative juices flowing. I have never seen such clear weather so early! The thick marine layer that rolls into the coast nearly every night often sticks around until well after noon, but by 10am there wasn’t a cloud in the sky!
After this short walk to awaken the soul, I put my nose to the grindstone, with a goal in mind and a full day of freedom to write ahead of me. I found a lovely spot at a table overlooking the lake. Considering the fact that my book is set at a cabin on a river nestled in the Cascades, this was absolutely the perfect spot for continued inspiration throughout the day! I didn’t look up until after nearly six hours of writing, until I had busted out about 17 pages. Easily the most I had written in a single sitting to date!
I was quite emotionally exhausted and was jonesing for some fresh air at this point. I persuaded my friend to go on a short walk on the local jetty before heading into town to eat some chowder for a late lunch and grab some grub for dinner later that evening. As much as I loved the productivity of the day, it was nice to look up and break away from the computer screen and savor the glorious landscape.
I ended the day with a productive evening, busting out another 5 pages before hitting the sack. The next morning, the clouds had rolled in and I woke to the pleasant sound of a classic Oregon downpour. Warm in the comfortable downy nest I always create for myself, I snoozed for a bit longer than I probably should have before prying myself out of bed for another morning and afternoon of writing. Planted to my desk watching the now angry and churning lake, I succeeded in exceeding my 15k writing goal and busted out a grand total of 34 pages. I went for one final 3-mile walk on the stunning beach before heading home later than evening, eager to share my happy news with my family.
There are no words to describe the amazingly surreal feeling that I am experiencing right now. I accomplished so much during this retreat. Not only meeting but exceeding my goals gave me the extra boost of confidence that I needed to continue pushing through. It is certainly a first draft, but a first draft I am proud of and eager to continue adding to.
How is NaNoWriMo coming along for you other aspiring novelists?!