So, I’ve just returned from a tutored writing retreat. Am I relaxed, refreshed and smug, having spent hours and hours working on my next (or should that be first?) best selling book? No. Definitely not. Have I learned anything? Yes, absolutely.
The tutored writing retreat was set in the beautiful surroundings of Farncombe Estate – a good 4 hours drive from up here in the heart of East Yorkshire. But it was worth the drive. The weekend started with everyone arriving late Friday afternoon and getting to know each other over dinner and a few drinks in the evening. Work in earnest started on Saturday morning with breakfast from 8am (now, before this weekend, I wasn’t sure 8am on a Saturday morning actually existed, but I can tell you now with confidence that it does) followed by the first workshop at 9am. From then on it was non-stop learning. And eating. If you want to learn about the craft and technical aspects of writing – get yourself on a tutored writing retreat. If you want lose weight – this is not the place for you.
This weekend, I learned the following things:
- I am unfit. Dreadfully unfit. Farncombe Estate is beautiful but very hilly, with lots of steps.
- Having a 1:1 with a tutor/published author critiquing your work is tough – leave time afterwards for a quiet sob within the confines of your room.
- You get over it. And you realise that the tutor was bang on about your work.
- It’s okay for your first draft to be rubbish.
- Writing your first draft is just the beginning. There is so much more work to be done to make it into something ready for publishing.
- I really like bread and butter pudding.
- I am hopeless at ‘mingling’ and meeting new people.
- Writing is a solitary experience, but writers are lovely, supportive people.
This last weekend was such an experience, such a rollercoaster ride and I believe I am a better writer because of it. Yes, it was tough, yes it was full-on but the skills and knowledge I will take away with me are priceless. As is the support and friendship I have gained from the other talented writers on the course.
Here’s to Farncombe 2016!