Notes From a Hired Pen

Self-imposed writer retreats


Today I’m writing at you from high above the Atlantic City boardwalk. I’m not working on a story, but changed my setting so I could finish the revision of my book proposal, which I just sent back to my agent this morning.

I love my home office. It is designed with me me me in mind, so there are things like turquoise walls, a stand up desk, and a Figment doll therein. But sometimes I like to leave my office and give myself another perspective, especially if I’m working on a challenging project. Sometimes that’s a simple as moving to my bedroom where the light’s better in the afternoon (I have a 1960s vanity that doubles as a desk for those occasions). Maybe I need a break from my dog dancing at my feet, so I’ll go to my mom’s and work from her enclosed porch, which has electricity and wifi.

Other times, like when I’m working on a big, sprawling project, I’ll just move my office entirely – printer and all. Last fall, I worked from a picnic table in Avalon Campground. This winter, it was a hotel room at Congress Hall in Cape May, facing the ocean. Today it’s a casino hotel. Each one worked for a reason: the campground was quiet and crisp and cool in my favorite season of the year. The Cape May hotel was quiet on a winter weekday and had room service and a bar downstairs. A casino hotel room offers anonymity, more room service, and a pool for when I’m done working.

It’s worked every time. It’s like putting on blinders. I get an enormous amount of work done, and in a relatively short period of time. When I was in Cape May, I wrote 10,000 words in two days. I finished my revisions in one day here (though I thought it’d take two).

Writers, do you do this? If so, where do you go?


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