Two weeks ago, I went on a writing retreat – just me and my laptop, alone on a farm in the middle of nowhere. I actually got a lot more out of it than just this stupid blog post, but I’m a sucker for a catchy title. The aim was to focus on my novel and work on it every day (which I did!) but I also learned a lot about the writing process along the way.
I realised that writing is hard. It’s like working out. You can’t just walk into a gym and start lifting the heaviest weights on your first day. I was expecting on this trip to be churning out thousands of words a day, even though I’d never done that before.
Like any muscle or any skill, you have to train it. You have to practice every day and build up to the harder stuff. Yes I might only be getting down a maximum of 1000-1500 words a day now, but if I keep doing that, I’ll eventually be able to write more and more and more! You can’t compare yourself to people who have been doing this for years when you’re just starting out.
The place I was staying at was a beautiful converted hayloft (aptly named The Hayloft) on a farm in Herefordshire. There were loads of horses and sheep, and even some new lambs!
Annoyingly, I came down with a cold literally on the drive down there, and it stuck around for pretty much my whole 7-night stay. This impacted my productivity a bit; I probably could have written a few thousand more words if I’d been at peak physical health, but I still did alright. I came home with 7k more words than I had before!
On my last full day there, my cold finally subsided enough for me to get a proper country walk in. Glyn and Cei, the owners of the farm, both highly recommended taking a walk up Hergest Ridge, a hill which leads up to a disused 18th century race track right by the border of England and Wales. Hopped up on Co-Op’s finest cold & flu medication, I drove up to the Ridge and put my brand new hiking boots to good use.
The views were absolutely stunning, and the hill was so quiet and tranquil. There was hardly anyone around on a late Monday morning, and all you could hear was the wind – or the occasional horse riders racing past!
Because of my cold, I was really worried I wouldn’t get to spend any time in nature and make the most out of my trip, so I’m really glad that I started feeling better just in time! Plus it was a beautiful sunny day, and most of the rest of the trip had been grey and drizzly, so it was absolutely perfect timing.
I was the most productive I’d been in months – maybe even years – and I would definitely like to go on more writing retreats. I’d love to travel around and see more places, but I’d also be happy to go back to the same farm again and again. It was so cosy and the owners were so friendly, and it’s in such a beautiful part of the country. I think it would also be great to do a group retreat – it would certainly be a lot cheaper!
If you’ve ever debated whether or not to go on a writing retreat, I would say just GO FOR IT! Whether you write loads or not (and you probably will), it’s a great way to clear your head and get a break from the everyday.