A Writing Retreat in Approximately 22,000 Words (Plus Captions)

I’m unusually lucky in that I have several in-real-life writing friends (a whole bushel, actually) that I treasure. *Fist-bumps Febe Moss and waves to the North Branch crew.* Online writing friends are fabulous, and IRL non-writing friends are super important too. But only with IRL writing friends can you pull off the kind of productivity and hi jinx Kelsey Macke and I pulled off this spring break with our second annual Tiny Cabin writing retreat. This time we went to Oklahoma. I could write you a blog post, but, well, I think the pictures pretty well capture it.* I’ll let them talk (with a little help).

All amped up and ready to hit the road!

All amped up and ready to hit the road!

We've arrived at our destination: Tiny Cabin 2.

We’ve arrived at our destination: Tiny Cabin 2. If you try to tell me it’s not the cutest little cabin you’ve ever seen I’ll call you a liar.

Isn't it cute? Much less tiny than we expected.

Inside: much less tiny than we expected. More than double Tiny Cabin 1, and cheaper to boot. Win!

First things first, let's get this puzzle set up. (Last year we realized we needed a non-writing thing to do during breaks.)

First things first, let’s get this puzzle set up. (Last year we realized we needed a non-writing thing to do during breaks.)

We were wowed by our first sunset, perfect viewing on the front porch slider.

We were wowed by our first sunset, with perfect viewing on the front porch slider.

Our adorable little beds. The cabin had two bedrooms but we bunked together because we're cute like that.

Our adorable little beds. The cabin had two bedrooms but we bunked together because we’re cute like that.

First morning, enjoying the sun on the back porch.

First morning, enjoying my coffee and the sun on the back porch.

The view. Not bad, Oklahoma. Not bad.

The view. Not bad, Oklahoma. Not bad.

Getting to work.

Getting to work.

Silhouette of a writer -- Kels rocking her headphones.

Silhouette of a writer — Kels rocking her headphones.

And an afternoon hike for a break.

An afternoon hike for a break. That’s Tiny Cabin 2 from a distance.

Look at this cute little babbling creek that bordered the property!

Look at this cute little babbling creek that bordered the property!

Late day session calls for a change in seating.

A late-day session wears me thin. Maybe a change in seating will do the trick?

The second sunset.

The second sunset.

And a tiny little pan-fire for a tiny ilttle cabin.

A tiny little pan-fire for a tiny ilttle cabin.

Day three: despearte circumstances call for desparate measures.

Morning two and the writing is hard to come by: desperate circumstances call for desperate measures.

Enjoying the great outdoors.

Let’s get out of our heads and enjoy the great outdoors.

We were treated to an aerial show right above our heads.

We were treated to an aerial show right above us.

And I tried things one step beyond desparate.

The great outdoors didn’t do the trick. Last night: one step beyond desperate.

The final sunset.

Our final sunset.

And finally, we abandoned the puzzle for the sake of more words.

The worst of the dam broke, and on our last morning we abandoned the puzzle for the sake of more words. We got a lot more words. πŸ™‚

Tired and happy. We kicked some ass.

Tired and happy. We had fun. We wrote things. We kicked some ass.

*Not pictured here: a questionable hot tub, Amaretto sours, a killer cartwheel, tree-climbing, a healthy dose of creative angst (okay maybe that was pictured here), impromptu dance parties, mysterious critter invasions, and sunshine yoga.

Thanks to Kelsey for the fun, the support, and several of these pictures! It turned out that this retreat was exactly what I needed to prioritize, get my head on straight, and find my groove again.

Now… Who’s in the mood for a retreat? Or if you’re not a writer, for a vacation? Honestly, they always end up getting blurred together for me anyway. I’ve never taken a retreat without stopping to have some fun, and I’ve never been on a vacation where I didn’t drown in inspiration and come home itching to work my butt off. Thus is the wonderful life of a writer. Happy spring!

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  • Julia Munroe Martin

    Loved this so much, Annie! The picture in the sink made me laugh out loud. I’ve never been on a writing retreat (alone or with a writing friend) but I really want to even more.

    • Yay! Thanks Julia; that’s what I was going for. πŸ™‚ I can’t believe you’ve never been on one! I guess out there in Maine it’s so lovely it almost seems like one; I know a lot of writers would love to go up there during the summer.

  • Melissa Crytzer Fry

    Annie – this was fabulous. Thanks for sharing such fun photos. I think the theme was “cute and tiny.” Your little cabin reminded me of the girls’ week cabin retreats I started in 2008 with four of my high school friends, which we sadly had to abandon due to life’s craziness and financial priorities amongst all of us.

    Also — both of my writing partners – one from CA and one from AZ – have come to my place for mini writing retreats, and they’ve been great fun. But I admit I’d rather go someplace else for the inspiration once in a while. Is there room in that cabin for one more? I believe you said there WAS another bed! πŸ˜‰

    • Thanks! “Cute and tiny” was totally the theme. πŸ˜€ Yes, you, like Julia, live in a retreat destination, and I love that both of you seem to really appreciate that with your photo blogs, etc. But of course we get used to any setting if we’re there long enough! I’d love it if y’all ever came down to Texas or Oklahoma! There WAS another bedroom. πŸ˜‰

  • KelsNotChels

    Best tiny cabin YET! Love you, lady! Thanks for being my writing twin!! xoxo

  • HA I LOVE Sink drafting. and of course head stand drafting too lol. Such a pretty cabin!

    • =)~ Thanks! It was much prettier than we were even hoping for!

  • Traci Kenworth

    Would LOVE to do this!!

    • You should! It took Kelsey’s bargain-hunting skills, but we found this place for a great price.

  • I love everything about this post!! Friendship! Writing! Hijinx! Headstands!

  • A. B. Davis

    Loved this post! So inspiring. The views were spectacular and the photos are amazing, especially the one of Kelsey in front of the window. It reminded me of Johnny Depp in Secret Window. Initially I checked this post out on my phone and I thought it was her back to the viewer. So it was extra creepy. So glad you were able to get your groove back! It would not be good if you lost it before I even get to read your first novel!

    • Haha, thanks Ashley! Yeah, I guess that silhouette one can look kind of creepy. It must just be my destiny. πŸ˜‰

  • Cynthia Robertson

    What fun! Never been on a writing retreat. I have a feeling I’d want to play too much and get nothing done. But you do make it look fun, Annie!

    • Playing is very tempting, so we just give in to it. The trick for us is to schedule the play and work in timed chunks so we don’t get carried away and forget why we’re there. It’s a great refresher to goof off between drafting sprints!

  • Katy

    Lucky – I don’t have any RL writing friends! I try to talk to my non-writer friends about writing but they kind of just give me this like, “What even are you?” It’s funny though.

    And I’ve never been on a writing retreat, but it looks like a lot of fun! πŸ˜€

    • Aw, you should try to find some! Have you ever looked in your area for a writers group? There’s nothing quite like it. Hopefully someday you’ll be able to go on a retreat too!

  • Carie Juettner

    I love the tiny cabin! What a great idea for a spring break getaway. πŸ™‚ Glad you got some words written. Hope your butt didn’t get wet sitting in the sink.

  • You two are the cutest writers I’ve ever seen! I’m afraid the cabin made my brain think only one thing — teen slasher flick!!! Desolate cabin? Check. Denuded trees for skeletal branch backdrops? Check. Moody lighting? Check. Eerie pond to hide bodies in? Check. Cute girls who will run around screaming and always go the wrong direction? Double check!! Glad you guys had a good time (and came back alive). πŸ˜‰

    • You crack me up, Lexa! Guilty as charged; I might have even written a setting-authentic horror story while we were there. It happened to be about two young writers (let’s call them Chelsea and Dani) who went on a writing retreat in Oklahoma…

      • Peggy

        Lexa’s comment was really hilarious, however, she can take it from me that you would NEVER run around screaming & go in the wrong direction:) πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

        • Oh, I don’t know. I’ve had my “let’s see what that strange noise in the dark closet was” moments. =)~

  • Regina Richards

    Looks like a terrific retreat. πŸ™‚