UX writing retreat

I write this in the lounge of a grand house overlooking the English Channel. The architecture feels faintly colonial: three balconies, high ceilings and flaking white paint. Our mobiles have latched on to the French networks and pushed our clocks onto continental time. An hour lost, an hour gained, it doesn’t matter. Time is unimportant here.

And that’s the point. Eight of us have gathered here for a long weekend to write and to think. For some, it’s a chance to blog. Others plan larger projects. We try to ignore the WiFi and instead discuss information architecture, mentoring, and the job market. We talk about our favourite books and bemoan the lack of unbridled joy in design literature.

The sound of the wind and the waves is indistinguishable. Of course we chose February to save money, but I’m keen also to embrace the bleak romance of the English winter. It’s a suitably wild and blustery weekend and, once we find the thermostat, we huddle together over glowing rectangles and cups of tea. Various tools of the trade emerge: Scrivener, WriteRoom, Writer, Ommwriter, TextEdit. iPads, PCs, Macs, pens and paper. In the evenings we seek out the local pubs, armed with flashlights, obvious tourists in this quiet village.

It’s a somewhat melancholy wind-down as people drift away early to prepare for a week of work. (In retrospect, a Monday off is too easy to sacrifice.) I watch the ferries slither to the West and debate whether that’s Calais I can see, or just a watery horizon.

It’s been a successful weekend. A clearing of the cobwebs, and a chance to slow down and create without distraction. We need more of these downtempo moments.

Attendees: Cennydd Bowles, Matthew SolleIan FennMags HanleyTyler TateAnn McMeekinAmanda WrightSjors Timmer