Folsom's 93

The Lives and Crimes of Folsom Prison's Executed Men


Every Writer Could Use a Retreat

This weekend I attended the Northern Colorado Writers Retreat at Sylvan Dale Ranch outside Loveland. This is the second year I’ve done the retreat. Last year, I didn’t get as much done since I hadn’t finished my research at that point, but not one to pass up an opportunity to have peace and quiet (even if it was just to get a nap) I went.

This year, having completed my research, I had no excuses. We arrived Friday afternoon, got settled and had a couple of hours to write before our group of 10 gathered to discuss individual writing goals for the weekend. Then we had another couple of hours before dinner. I couldn’t pass up a rather boisterous game of Bananagrams, but after a few rounds, we decided it was time to write again.

From 9-5 on Saturday, we had uninterrupted writing time where the only sounds heard were the rushing river and the taping of keys on the laptop. I emerged from my room to grab a sandwich for lunch in the downstairs common room, then slinked back to continue tapping away. I did make sure I ventured outside to the sunny and peaceful deck to read over some transcripts.

After dinner, I forwent the evening movie of Dead Poets Society and continued to write for another 3-1/2 hours. Each morning I got in about 30 minutes of writing before breakfast.

I want one of these in my backyard

The only misadventure came in the form of a tiny four-legged critter that darted across my floor and turned me into the a shrieking woman standing on the bed, envisioning a thriving community of mice under the bed. Luckily he escaped out into the hall.

I spent 21 hour writing this weekend and met my goal of writing 15 first drafts of the Folsom stories. I’m thrilled I got these done, as I’m sure my publisher would be, too, however I don’t think he’d be happy to hear that the word count on each one is higher than I previously estimated. How I’m going to convince him the word count for Folsom’s 93 needs to be larger, I don’t know, but I’m going to try.

I’m not against begging.

Having this time to write not only resulted in 15 completed stories, but it rejuvenated my writing mojo. I needed to plow through these in order to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Not having the everyday distractions of home, I cranked out several thousand words of text I wouldn’t have otherwise written in that time. Don’t underestimate the power of a writing retreat. Even if it’s only a half an hour away, it’ll be far enough from the daily grind so you can focus on your love of writing.

(Also . . . check out this great post, What is a Writing Vacation? by writer Carol Deminski)