Last summer, I decided I wanted to attend a writing retreat, and I had very specific goals in mind for this retreat.
- To travel away from home, preferably outside the United States.
- There to be history and culture so that I could be inspired in my downtime.
- To work with a book coach– a good listener who understands the craft but who won’t try to change my story or my style.
- Structured enough to accomplish my goals but flexible enough to account for those unexpected periods of writer’s block that arrive at the most inopportune times.
As luck would have it, my amazing book coach Robin Henry, announced in January that she was offering a personal writing adventure in Estonia. (see the previous post) In this post, I wanted to share what my adventure entailed.
A month before my travel time, Robin and I held a special Zoom meeting to discuss what we wanted to work on that week and decided that restructuring the timeline of one of my protagonists, Hattie was the best use of our time. So, my prework consisted of reworking Hattie’s outline, which meant moving her story forward five years. I submitted the new outline ahead of time for Robin’s comments.
On my arrival day in Estonia, Robin picked me up at the airport and checked me into my historic hotel. Then we made our way through Estonia’s landmark and wound up in a quaint little tea shop, where we had the first of my favorite type of sessions with Robin. We didn’t talk about the outline, didn’t talk about the structure, or the mechanics of the book. Instead, we talked about my characters and their stories. Robin listened as I told background story after story, as if I were talking about my nephews or dogs. Why were these sessions my favorite? Because I believe the more you talk about your characters and the lives you’ve built for them, the more real they become, and then when you write it, it sounds more authentic.
The next morning we met and talked about the goals for the week and walked through her comments on my outline. My main goal was to get Hattie through part one of the book. With that in mind, we planned my writing time and submissions, her comments back to me, our meetings to discuss those comments, and then our cultural activities ( and pancake time!)
It was all very structured and planned, but then my jet lag kicked in. Suddenly I was sleeping when I should be writing and writing when I should be sleeping. And Hattie, being true to her rebellious nature, didn’t want to follow where I was trying to lead her. This is where the flexibility of the program and the one-on-one time proved invaluable. Robin was more than willing to adjust and even held a few writer/character counseling sessions to help get Hattie and me past our differences so we could move forward.
As a result, Hattie is now a much richer and more well-rounded character and has made her way through part one.
I highly recommend this program. The program is designed to help you meet your personal goals. Estonia is fascinating and rich in culture, history, and beauty. And whatever your objectives may be, Robin will help you get there.