Blissing out at a Blue Mountains writer’s retreat

If there are two things that get me up in the morning, it’s writing and travel. So when my legendary pal Gabrielle Tozer invited me to join her and some other talented authors at an eco lodge in the Blue Mountains I couldn’t transfer my deposit soon enough.

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It couldn’t have come at a better time. Work had been hectic and I’d had a health issue that had sucked my mojo. I wasn’t sure if I was more excited about getting away from the city hum for four nights in an eco lodge sans wifi or TV … or being surrounded by creative women who were all much further along the novel-writing path than me.

Over four days and nights, I lapped up any insights I could get from Gab, Trinity, beautiful author of Pieces of Sky, freelance writer and walking book encyclopaedia Em and the imaginative and intelligent Eliza.

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Our days were mostly divided into two-hour writing blocks where you would hear nothing but clacking keyboards and the occasional sigh as one of our characters stubbornly refused to emerge on paper quite like we saw them in our imaginations. Interspersed through that were obligatory tea, cheese and wine breaks – all the things that make good books great.

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There were times I just wanted to give up on my novel writing attempts and lie in front of the fire with a book (by an author clearly much more talented than me) but the focus of the other women kept the negative voices at bay. Slowly but surely, I ticked through the pages of my third draft and while I got less done than I had anticipated I would, I learnt a powerful lesson in the importance of patiently picking through a draft rather than motoring so fast you just have to do it over and over again.

I’m still a long way from a final manuscript but I’m feeling more confident than ever. I’ve learnt the value of dedicating solid chunks of time to projects, and also of incorporating nature into creativity to keep the soul refreshed.

I can’t wait to do it again.