Planning the Writing Retreat, Take 2

I’ve been working on a couple chapters to prepare for my writing retreat. As I work, I keeping coming across all this research that will be helpful to have on the trip. If I try to take everything on the list in my head, I’ll need a bigger car to transport it all.

Luckily (I think), the cabin I’m staying in is a 5 minute walk from the parking lot, a walk that involves crossing a creek. I’ll have help getting materials to the cabin, but it’s likely I’ll need to trek all my stuff out on Sunday by myself. So I’m limited to what I can carry. I say “luckily” because I can easily imagine myself diving into a bunch of research and spending the whole time reading rather than writing. As we’ve discussed at Dame Eleanor’s, research and reading is a necessary part of writing, but this weekend, I’d like to get through some of the tough writing tasks needed for my chapter revisions.

I haven’t quite decided yet, but I may limit myself to two or three books and whatever pdfs I have on my computer (being able to search documents and having to read from the screen save me from getting sucked in to reading whole articles). Still, I’m tempted by some book chapters and books that I’ll need to use at some point.

While I’m thinking, I’ve got to get packed–clothes, food, and a flashlight and whistle to warn away the mountain lions.*

What would you take? What kind of balance would you strike between writing writing, and the research part of writing?


*I did get an official letter of warning from the farm where I’m staying: “Our purpose is to inform you, not to frighten you. Having appropriate information is important. That being said, we are hopeful that you will keep your reservation here at Working Farm.” Comforting, no?


4 thoughts on “Planning the Writing Retreat, Take 2

  1. This is such a hard question. On my hotel nights, i always take more books that I need, and I also often wish for a book I didn’t have. In the end, I’ve usually focused on articles since I’ve been concerned about getting sucked into a whole book. I would focus on a few articles and only take books that you already know you might need to quote from in order to get your writing tasks done. If you just “might” need it, you could probably leave it at home and deal with it when you get back. Once you have the books packed that you KNOW you need, then pack the might-need books only if you have room.

    I realize that these distinctions are very hard to make. I just know that reading really sucks up time as retreats like yours, so don’t take too much unless you can’t progress without out.

    Just my two cents.

    • I like your 2 cents! I ended up deciding to just make notes about what books to consult or what piece of info to find once I got home. I ended up spending most of my work time on revising the article, and I didn’t regret having so few books. In fact, I only read the preface to one and one other article. Thanks for the advice!

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