Posted in: DIY writer's retreat, writing retreat

DIY Writing Retreat – My 7 Days of Total Focus on a New Novel

Hooray for finishing my DIY writing retreat! Balloons rising into the air!! I’m celebrating that I now have a full draft of Novel #2 – better known as The Romantics.
After nearly full week of making this new book my primary focus, every morning, noon, and night, I met my goal.

How I Did It

The goal was to give myself a week of StayWriCation (see earlier post) and finish a first full draft of the novel I had nearly finished a few months back. The original plan was to finish in July, but life intervened. So I took a week off work finally, in September, and let no other obligations — except, of course, for walking my charming Silky Terrier — interfere. Here are the DIY writing retreat goals and strategies I followed:

  • Increase the word count. The rough draft was about 80,000 words, and pretty good in places, some chapters even refined, but I had left big holes, scenes only briefly outlined.
  • Stick to a daily writing schedule. By sticking to my schedule, I found that every day went by faster than expected. Five days later, I had filled the gaps and added 10,000 words to the count.
  • Value the writing time and don’t blow the DIY writing retreat just because you’re at home. I proved to myself that it’s the time, and not a daily word count, that works for me.
  • Use outlines, but don’t be confined to them. A rough outline, but writing in all directions at the same time, also works. We’re all different.

What now? Maybe I’ll write and revise some poems, or just read, before I plunge back in for a first revision.


The Romantics is a story about two half-sisters and the cottage in Italy they inherit, with its ghost, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. A  tale of love and sisters like Sense and Sensibility, it’s also a story of friendship between women similar to The Enchanted April, also set on the Ligurian coast of Italy.