Taking a Writer's Retreat

Saturday, May 05, 2012
A couple weekends ago, a friend of mine hosted a writer’s retreat at her home. I had no idea what to expect because I’d never been to one. But now I know why “treat” is part of the word. We plugged in and had a great time!

Our host had planned retreats before so she had the details down. I thought I’d share her expertise for when you plan your writer’s retreat. (Yeah, you’re going to want a writer’s retreat of your very own by the time you finish reading this post!)

1. She planned the retreat for a no-school Friday so that we’d have from early Friday afternoon to Sunday morning. (Dad took the kids for a camping weekend. Isn’t that a swell Dad?). Of course, you don’t have to use a personal home; you can rent a mountain cabin or any quiet spot and split the rent.

2. She let us know what to bring: a pillow, laptops, cords, and any other supplies we needed to write. We’d be eating out for a meal, but mostly eating in. So that meant we’d need to bring our favorite foods and beverages. (And P.S. We shared our bounty!)

3. Many of the writers arrived on Friday around the same time so we were able to gather and discuss what we were working on. Most had brought novel manuscripts, but one writer was working on a play, another a workshop presentation. Talk about great expectations! So it was time to establish the ground rules.

4. Turned out, we only needed one rule: During writing time, no talking. You didn’t have to write. You could take a walk, or take a shower, or take a call—you just had to do so quietly so as not to disturb the creative geniuses around you.

5. When we ate, or were on “break”, we talked our heads off—and a good deal of our talk centered on writing. It was a great opportunity to learn, get feedback, or work through stumbling blocks because there was so much writing experience ready and willing to help.

Honestly, I was flat wore out when I left. But I had three more chapters of my YA manuscript, and was itching to plug back into that novel when I got home. Plus, a handful of writers I knew had gone from acquaintances to friends I could call on for writing help.

Bet you’re already planning your writer’s retreat, right? (Told you so.)


Unknown said...

What a geat idea!

brenda said...

Sounds wonderful now if only the writers I knew shared zip codes.

Margo Dill said...

This is so awesome. WOW! I love my critique group--we meet at someone's house, take turns doing dinner, and talk about our writing. I wonder if we could manage this. ..

sally said...

Fantastic. I love this kind of thing. I have one friend who used to open her house once a month for a sleepover/two-day retreat for us. It was always such a fun and productive time.

Sioux Roslawski said...

I've been on many writing retreats, and each one is an oasis of creativity. It sounds like you had a wonderful time. However, if my critique group got together for a weekend, I think we might end up in jail due to "disturbing the peace" with too-loud laughter...

Cathy C. Hall said...

I hope all y'all get a chance to do something like this...it was kind of like a conference, except with writing time.

And Sioux? We did get a little rowdy (okay, we were a LOT rowdy), but only during our breaks. :-)

Donna Volkenannt said...

Sounds like fun. Congratulations on finishing three chapters of your YA novel!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Fun and productivity? How can you go wrong?! :)

Good work on the novel progress, Cathy!

Kara said...

Wow, what a smart friend you have! ;) And having a supportive spouse makes all the difference, I say. There's nothing better than being able to spend a weekend with your writing buddies knowing that everytyhing at home is taken care of. Hope you'll all be able to do another retreat soon :)

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