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Saturday, April 26, 2014


Retreat! Why You Should Pack Your Bags and Go

In February, Sioux wrote about a retreat she and a two of her writing friends created for themselves. It gave them time and space for writing and critique.

Another opportunity for writers is a larger regional retreat. We have one here in Missouri every year organized by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). In fact, that’s where I am this weekend. No matter how busy my writing life gets, I always make time for this event for three very important reasons.

  1. Face time with a pro. Have you ever gotten comments on a rejection letter and wished that you could ask the agent or editor a few questions? An organized retreat gives you that opportunity. If you get the feedback ahead of time, you also have the chance to revise and get this person’s reaction on that as well. Did you do what she wanted? Go too far? Or not push yourself far enough? At your meeting, you’ll have the answers.
  2. What about when… Another great thing about a retreat is that it gives you time with fellow writers. We always spend part of this time bouncing the feedback that we’ve received off each other. What would you do when an agent asks you to do this? Did I completely misunderstand? Learning how other writers work with feedback can help you find techniques and strategies to use in your own rewrites.
  3. Seven Degrees of Separation. An organized retreat also gives you the chance to meet writers you don’t already know. In addition to receiving feedback from new people, you have the opportunity to form friendships and make connections. Like it or not, connections are important in publishing. Writers that I’ve met at retreats have referred me to their editors. When my editors need additional writers for a job, these are the people whose names go on my list as well.

New friendships, professional connections, an opportunity to learn and writing. What more can you ask for in a weekend?  Good food? Let’s just say that no one goes away hungry here in Missouri!


Find out more about Sue and her work at her blog, One Writer's Journey.

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Blogger Sioux said...

Sue--I love the "Seven Degrees of Separation" point (especially). My life has been changed by meeting writers and talking to them one-on-one, including John Reynolds Gardiner ("Stone Fox") and Rick Bragg ("All Over But the Shoutin'" among others). The author of "Stone Fox" had on a huge class ring, and I felt like kneeling down and kissing that ring, it was such a "religious" experience. That was way before I started writing--I was just basking in their glow from the perspective of a reader.

Your post has nudged me into considering going to a big conference--maybe in the next year, when my WIP has gotten semi whipped into shape.

Thanks for the shout-out (from one Sioux to another Sue).

5:02 AM  
Blogger Margo Dill said...

I completely agree with you and wish I was at the AWR this weekend. :) My critique group is going on a writing retreat this summer, and then I'm going to go to the big MO SCBWI conference in early September. So, hopefully this summer I'll get a lot of writing done and face time with pros!

7:20 AM  
Blogger Sue Bradford Edwards said...

It would have been so great to have you there.

Find an event that focuses on the "right type of writing" (say that three times fast!). Although I write for adults too, my focus is children and teens. Because of this, I go to SCBWI events.

Yes, they take up a chunk of time and resources but I came away from this with the names of 2 agents and publisher who is aquiring my type of book. AND I also got the help I needed on two manuscripts.

Money and time well spent!

--Sue(not Sioux)BE

8:55 PM  

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