On Saturday, Deena and I met with our Rochester area YA/MG critique group for an all day, do-it-yourself writers' workshop. We rented an office in the city for the day. This was very reasonably priced, and the office had all the outlets and desks the five of us could ever need. The office we rented is a space designed for only that--they rent out the office space to people who want to meet and work.
And we worked! Now, I don't know about your writing friends, but my local peeps and I are chatty. Seriously, we could gossip about writing and, let's face it, everything else for hours. We knew that if we just showed up on Saturday, we'd find ourselves talking more than writing. So we drew up a schedule and we stuck to it like a German rail conductor.
We started with a half-hour of set up time, followed by 2 1/2 hours of quiet writing time. The schedule built in a long lunch time to get the chatting out of our systems. We went back for two more hours of writing, then a short break, then another hour of writing. We all brought cold beverages and snacks, so there were no excuses for slacking. But we didn't want to slack. We were spending a Saturday away from our families and significant others. We had BETTER have something to show for it!
So how much can I get done in about 5 hours of writing uninterrupted by "Mom! Mom!"?
--I wrote a 7-page insert chapter from scratch
--I heavily revised another, longer chapter, which ended up being a complete rewrite. (I was only able to reuse a short dialogue exchange.)
--I revised most a third chapter
Most of all, I gained a lot more enthusiasm for the project. I've been stuck in the mucky middle, telling myself that I can't sit still for 5 hours of revising. Well, it turns out that I can! And I forgot how much I like my characters. They're funny people.
I loved our writers' workshop, and I hope we do it again soon. We were so productive planning and plotting. Maybe we should give our crit group a name: The Planners and Plotters!
-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages