writing retreat

Every writing retreat needs a one-man band by Liz & Lisa

Our second writing retreat was last weekend in Huntington Beach, CA!

You might be wondering...why do we call it a retreat if we're holed up in a hotel room for 48 hours, ahem, working.

(Or maybe that's just our husbands!)

(And maybe we shouldn't have tweeted so many pictures of the sunset from our ocean front balcony.)

Maybe the word retreat makes us feel better because it sounds like a place you go where the words flow freely, the ideas come full force and the characters rise off the page.

(And you won't get in a knock-out-drag-out with your writing partner over a plot point.)

Here's what we do know.

50,000 words are now written for our third MS. And we're excited. Details to come soon, we promise...

And because you're always so supportive, we're giving away a $20 iTunes gift card. Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll randomly select the winner on Monday, February 6 after 6pm PST.

So here's what we learned. (Cause y'all know we always learn quite a bit- at these things. Most of which has very little to do with writing!)

1. You can listen to the same song on replay for forty-eight hours straight. Lisa would like to personally thank Debbie Gibson for the role she played. Who knew Lost in Your Eyes could be so inspiring! And Liz would like to thank Sarah Bareilles' for her live rendition of Gravity. (Liz's is so much cooler!)

(In Lisa's defense, Debbie was bringing her back to that mind space she needed to be in- that high-waisted jeans and Strawberry Boons mind space. We'll fill you in soon. Promise.)

2. You can survive on beef jerky for two days.

(And cheese and crackers.)

(And supermarket sushi.)

(But not rice chips- gag.)

And Lisa would just like to take this moment to thank gawd that Slim Jims were not involved this time. (See last retreat.)

3. A one-man band (with a mustache) can sound (and look) really good after a long day of writing

Fire pit. Check.

Glass of wine. Check.

One dude with a harmonica wedged between his lips, a guitar strapped across his body and a keyboard not far away- who can, and we repeat can channel Elton John-if you really listen. Check.

4. There is such a thing as service that is too good

Ring, ring. The light outside your hotel room door is flickering. Someone will be right up.

Ring, ring. We'd like to bring up two bite sized chocolates to put on your pillow.

Ring, ring. There's a guy with a mustache singing tunes down by the fire. We'll pay you to come down here.

Maybe we should've stayed at the Hampton Inn...

5. Everyone in California is gorgeous (When you live elsewhere.) Lisa had forgotten how good looking everyone is in SoCal. (Or the cold has frozen her brain and her judgement.) Either way, from the guys who parked the car to man at the front desk, every male looked like he stepped out of Surfer magazine and every woman like she just walked off a photo shoot. She especially wanted to explain to the incredibly hot and far too young for her-Abercrombie & Fitch model look-a-like- (a.k.a, the bell hop), I like men. I do, as he eyed her and Liz suspiciously as they rode up the elevator to their shared room.


Liz & Lisa



Ask Liz & Lisa: What's your writing process?

Okay, so we know.  It's been a while! *hang heads in shame* Things have been crazy the past six months and we've been showcasing so many fabuloso authors that we may have been neglecting all your lovely questions.  But rest assured, we still think they are all awesome and plan to get to them.  Remember, if we choose yours, you win a book!  Today's Q comes from Mary Beth-and she's won a copy of Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

But don't despair!  We are also going to give away a copy of The Arrivals by the fantastic Meg Mitchell Moore! (Who, btw, is chatting it up LIVE over at SheKnows a week from tonight. Click here for deets.) Just leave a comment on this post and you'll be entered to win!  We'll choose the winners on Sunday November 11th after 3pm PST.

Here's Mary Beth's Q:

I don't know where to begin & would love the insight of fiction writers on their process. For example, do they outline/map out all of their characters ahead of time as well as the storyline? Or, do they have a basic idea of the direction they'd like to go, and just start writing...then see what organically surfaces?

Thank you so much, Mary Beth

Funny you should ask.  We just returned from a three-day writing retreat in Chicago and had to deal with this very issue!

So we've been talking about starting the third book for at least six months.  But between life and babies and launching The D Word, we've been well, a bit overwhelmed.  First we were going to start it while we were in Hawaii, but we were thwarted by Vodka POGS.  Then we decided to dive in while we were in Vegas, but we discovered it's hard to concentrate when the craps table is calling your name.  So finally, after one of us might have threatened the other that it's now or never, we decided the only way we could ever get this damn thing started was to lock ourselves in a hotel room for 72 hours.  And alas, our writing retreat was born.

We like to keep things very organic-we're careful not to pre-plan too much as we never know where the story will take us once we start typing. Our process is to come up with the basic plot (beginning, middle and end- although the end is always subject to change), then have a discussion about location, characters, character's names (that's a big one!), etc.. Then we begin. We know our style is unique and that there are many authors who outline the shit out of their book before they type a single word. At the end of the day, it's all about personal preference. (We think it's more fun to surprise ourselves!)

Now you now what we do. But we'd thought we'd also give you a few tips from our writing retreat on what NOT to do again:

1. Don't try to write your first chapter in row 32.  Liz doesn't know why she thought it would be a good idea to try to bust out her first chapter while on the flight to Chitown.  But between all the drunk Notre Dame and USC fans and the hot guy in 32B, let's just say she didn't get shit accomplished.

2. Outlining while hungover is awesome! (Not!)  When Liz ran into an old friend the night before the retreat, she thought it would be a good idea to catch up over drinks. (cue FOUR rasberry Stolis and club sodas) She was feeling a bit "rusty" and thought it might loosen her up and get her creative juices flowing.  But the only juices flowing were the room service cheeseburger she threw up at 1am.

2. Friends don't let friends eat Slim Jims Lisa knew something was up when Liz texted her and begged for her to stop at 7-11 for Advil, Cheeze-its and a Slim Jims on her way to the hotel.  But, wanting to get the retreat off on the right foot, she bit her tongue, gagged a bit, but arrived promptly with the requested items.

3. Room Service sounds better in theory After sampling pretty much EVERY SINGLE THING on the menu by day two, Lisa begged Liz to let them take a break and eat downstairs.  But Liz, who had declared herself the Word Count Nazi, said no one was allowed outside until we hit the 20,000 word mark.  *cracks whip*  And after we made our goal and headed downstairs in the lobby bar?  Lisa wouldn't even let us drink the shots sent over by some mystery man. (Note to mystery man:  White Russians?  Really?!)

4. Housekeeping is your friend  We don't know why we never let them come in.  It just seemed too complicated.

5. Now what?  So it's easy to write when you're locked in a room together with nothing else to do.  Now comes the hard part-trying to find time to write with Legos and smashed carrots flying past our heads.  And to do it without killing each other in the process!  Luckily, we seem to have it down.  Liz has stopped sending her early morning, pre-caffeine knee-jerk reaction emails and Lisa hasn't had a meltdown in months.  And guess what?  We really like what we have so far. We got this!

What we're trying to say is just do what feels right for you.  As long as it's working and the story is flowing, you'll have no problem finishing your masterpiece on schedule.  And remember, the most important thing is to enjoy the writing process!

xoxo, L&L

Have a question?  Send it to asklizandlisa@chicklitisnotdead.com!