Planning the Writing Retreat

I leave Friday for a 48 hour writing retreat. Because  I won’t have internet access nor a printer nor a car, I need to plan ahead.

A few weeks ago I drafted goals:

Big goals: write the end of Ch. 3; write the end of Ch. 2; write an intro and outline of Ch. 4; draft a conclusion; read parts of one or two books for Ch. 4.

As I get closer to my leave date, I’ve modified my goals based on what progress I’ve made:

Modified goals: Ch. 3: draft the conclusion, revise intro, add signposting throughout; Ch. 2: revise conclusion, revise intro, add signposting throughout, accomplish a few little tasks from task list; Ch. 4: write and revise an abstract; Conclusion: draft a really bad draft; (optional) read parts of one or two books for Ch. 4.

My goals have gotten more specific, and I’ve slimmed down what I’m expecting to do with Ch. 4. But perhaps a better way to think of it is:

Chs 2 and 3: revise for argument; Ch. 4: write abstract; Conclusion: write zero draft; read if possible.

Last night I attempted to make up a schedule of events:

  • Friday arr. 4pm
  • 4-4:30 write 750 words
  • 4:30-5 draft Ch. 4 abstract
  • 5-5:30 start conclusion draft
  • 5:30-6 take a walk/snack
  • 6-7 work on Ch. 3 conclusion
  • 7-8 work on Ch. 2 dumb tasks?
  • 8-8:30 work on Ch. 2 conclusions (at least freewrite about them)
  • Saturday
  • S: 8am–write 750 words/eat
  • note: Ch. 2 tasks or Ch.2 conclusion can be traded for Article2 tasks
  • note: if 2/3 of the time has been used on assigned task, the rest can be used to read
  • 8:30-9:30 work on Ch. 2 tasks
  • 9:30-10 work on Ch. 2 conclusion
  • 10-10:30 walk/break/snack
  • 10:30-11 work on Ch.2 conclusion
  • 11-12 work on Ch.2 tasks or conclusion
  • 12-1 lunch/walk/break
  • 1-2 work on Ch.3 tasks
  • 2-3 work on Ch.3 conclusion
  • 3-3:30 break/walk
  • 3:30-4:30 work on figures/dumb stuff
  • 4:30-5 work on Ch.4 abstract
  • 5-6 work on Conclusion draft
  • 6-7 dinner/break/walk/read
  • 7-8 work on Ch. 2 or 3  writing chunk
  • 8-9 work on Ch. 2 or 3 writing chunk
  • 9–beer and movie time!
  • Sunday
  • 8:00-8:30 get ready for the day, eat, pack up some.
  • 8:30-9 write 750 words
  • 9-10 work on Ch 2 or 3 tasks
  • 10-10:30 break/walk
  • 10:30-11:00 work on Ch. 2 or 3 tasks
  • 11-11:40 write a “state of the diss” document, assess what’s left to do.
  • 11:40 pack up and hike out.

Because I haven’t done a writing retreat before, I’m not sure if having such a specific schedule is the right move, or if I should have more general assignments (e.g., Saturday morning: Ch. 2 work; Saturday afternoon: Ch. 3 work). I may find out that it’s hard to shift gears from one chapter to the other, and thus I should stay with a particular chapter for a longer period of time. With the specific schedule, I’ve tried to put in regular breaks and vary my writing tasks. I’ve also tried to vary little tasks, like modifying footnotes or finishing sentences, with more intense writing.

The other unknown for the weekend is that I may have my article draft back from EF, so I may need to spend some time reading and revising in order to get the document back to EF early next week.

I plan to keep fiddling around with the plan as the week goes by. I’ll report in my final plan, and again after I return.

Any suggestions?


2 thoughts on “Planning the Writing Retreat

  1. It seems like it’s good to look at this like a “birth plan.” If all goes smoothly, this is what you’d like to do (no epidural, playing relaxing music, etc.). But if things stall out or the pacing isn’t what you expected, be prepared to make changes and even big decisions about strategy even as you go (getting an epidural, screaming your head off, etc.).

    I encourage you to extend this metaphor however you see fit.

    • I love it! I’m really trying to pace myself this week, so I’m not exhausted for the weekend. But I can see many scenarios where I need to step back a little and change plans.

      One hiccup already is that I *will* have the article draft in hand for the retreat. It will be my primary goal for the weekend, and it may be the only big thing I get through. If I can get that ready to hand back to EF, and get a few incidental things done, I’ll be happy.

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