Retreat! I’m Packing Up My Writing

A few weeks ago, one of my girlfriends texted me. “I’m packing for a 10 day trip and thought of you. Just fit all my clothes and shoes and swim wear in 1 carry-on bag. I’m learning.”

This from a gal who would pack a huge suitcase for a four-day trip. Who packed eleven pairs of shoes for one week of vacation. Who had to pay extra for luggage because, while it all fit, it still weighed more than the max amount.

She’s definitely learning.

Traditionally, I pack light. I hate carting extra stuff around and have long since realized one sweatshirt is enough to ward off the north woods’ chill for a weekend. Or that packing in color schemes lightens the load, as many items can be reused with little to no problem–sandals, for instance.

Easy when it comes to clothes. But next week, I’m packing up my writing. I’m attending a four-day retreat sans my little fam of one hubby, two dogs, four kids and 2001 dust bunnies. My only obligation during this time is to write.

And this is where the packing thing gets me. What do I bring?

Do I edit or write fresh? If the former, which manuscript and which copy: paper or digital? If the latter, what support material should I bring: my research books, my notebooks, my writing totem?

What if I have a brain fart and what I packed doesn’t flow? Do I need to pack multiple projects? What if I finish a project early and have nothing to do with my fingers besides shovel food in my mouth?

All of a sudden I picture an over-grown suitcase filled with eleven manuscripts and supporting documentation for each of them. I picture one small sliver of space left over for a ratty pair of jammie pants and one sweatshirt. I picture other retreaters stopping me at the door, badges in hand. “I’m sorry, ma’am, but your suitcase has reached maximum density. We’ll have to charge you an extra fee to bring all your words inside.”

I’ve never been on a writing retreat before and have no idea what to do. I need serious help.

So, dear readers, have you ever embarked on a writing retreat before? What did you pack that you shouldn’t have? What did you forget that you longed to have at your fingertips? How did you schedule your writing time: editing, writing or a combination of the two? What is a writing retreat must-have? Spill it all and help me learn.

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3 responses to “Retreat! I’m Packing Up My Writing

  1. Wow, a writing retreat sounds wonderful. Enjoy! I would have no earthly idea what to bring either. 🙂

  2. I’ve been on lots of writing retreats and I’ve found that the essentials are a laptop, notebook, pens, a flash drive for backing up your work, headphones (in case others want to talk when you want to write), music to play on those headphones, highlighters to mark up the notes in your notebook, and some kind of novel or non-fiction work that inspires you.

    Just for relaxing, I’d suggest bringing some kind of pillow if you have room.

    As for what you should work on, if you’re taking a laptop, bring ALL of your projects and work on whatever one is calling to you. In between when you’re working on that, do the writing you feel you HAVE to do, editing or what-have-you. I’ve found that breaking up editing/reading for others with new writing helps me get twice as much done. And if that writing totem is small, bring that sucker along, too.

    If you finish what you’re doing early, start something new. Try writing something you’ve never tried before, like stream of consciousness or murder mystery or alien abduction…or erotica. ^_^ Anything that gets you up and going again. It never has to see the light of day. It would just be there to tickle you.

  3. Nope. No idea! I’d bring whatever feels right to bring. Helpful, huh? And enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

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