Some people like to go visit friends or exotic locations, see movies or tour historic sites. All I want is peace and quiet and the chance to have sustained thought. Raising three kids, saying yes to too many other obligations... all of it leaves me little chance for introspection and that's something I need. So occasionally, I take off for a weekend. (This is all pre-arranged with my husband, of course.)
I get a hotel room close to home (so I don't waste time driving someplace) with wifi (so I can use my laptop), and I book through Hotwire (so it's not too expensive - though I realize the ability to do this kind of thing is a real luxury). Then I hole up, meditate, and write.
This is all very "To Room Nineteen" (by Doris Lessing), I know. ("To Room Nineteen" is what Michael Cunningham alludes to in The Hours, in case you were wondering. Aside from Mrs. Dalloway.)
I use this time to knock out a big chunk of writing. It is hard to sustain momentum at home when I pick up an idea or train of thought only to put it right back down to fix another snack or meal, play Uno, unload the dishwasher, sweep the floor, negotiate for three arguing children, or wash sheets. By the evening, I'm drained enough that the thought of sitting down to do some hard thinking and writing... well, it just doesn't happen very often.
I don't really need organized writing retreats or conferences right now... I just need the time to get my ideas down on paper. I'm sure there will come a time and place for such events. Right now, though, I just need to do the work.
Progress report from the weekend, Part 2: I have nearly finished revising the first 30 pages of the book and have renamed all the characters that needed renaming.