Mini-Writing Retreat

slide1After a crazy-busy summer, I’ve spent almost two weeks working on my latest manuscript. The concentrated time has been perfect.

Some tactics that have made it productive:

Organize – clear the desk, put away distraction, organize my research into easily accessible folders and shelves, organize all my electronic files

Review – read the manuscript to get back into my characters’ heads, the plot line and conflicts and to assess status.

Assess – assess every chapter for hooks, pacing, agency, conflicts and character development, even the chapters that were unwritten. I use a chapter summary document for this.

Start at the beginning – using the assessment begin at chapter one and proceed from there. I felt uncomfortable merely writing the final chapters I had originally laid out without sinking deep into the story and era again.

Avoid distractions – probably the most difficult tactic. I tried to limit myself to one non-writing time each day. Coffee with a friend I hadn’t seen for ages. Dinner with my 90-year-old mother, physio appointment and so on. Some days there were none.

Relax in the evening – I decided to binge watch The Good Wife seasons I had missed. Relaxing and entertaining and definitely not 1870s Paris.

Take a half-way checkpoint – at the end of week one I printed off my chapter summary for another look at status. In my case this led to a big decision – end the story earlier. I think there’s room for a second book with these characters.

I’m almost done. Six chapters to write. Four days left. Keep your fingers crossed.

PS – and as little social media as possible!!

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union on August 16, 2016. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

12 thoughts on “Mini-Writing Retreat”

  1. Thanks, Mary, I’m about to pick up on my next historical mystery, where I left off at 16,000 words about six months ago–and this is great advice! I’ll probably watch the first three seasons of “Sherlock”, episode by episode, (again!) for my reality break.

  2. Question:

    I’m writing a historical fiction that takes place in France in the late 1500’s to 1606. Having trouble researching life then. Can I use research details from the 1700’s? I believe there isn’t too much difference.

    On Thu, Nov 3, 2016 at 7:41 AM, A Writer of History wrote:

    > awriterofhistory posted: “After a crazy-busy summer, I’ve spent almost two > weeks working on my latest manuscript. The concentrated time has been > perfect. Some tactics that have made it productive: Organize – clear the > desk, put away distraction, organize my research into eas” >

    1. Hi Paul … one of the top reasons readers of historical fiction gave for being disappointed with a novel is historical inaccuracies. So I think you are in dangerous territory doing what you are proposing. I recommend you dig deeper on the research front.

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