Creating a Writing Retreat Part One

Wednesday, September 05, 2012
by rjones0856
My critique group, which we call the Lit Ladies, recently went on a writing retreat. I mentioned this last week in my post on gaining momentum in your work-in-progress (WIP). We got the idea after I read a great post on The Muffin by Cathy C. Hall about a writing retreat one of her writing friends planned at her home. I mentioned this to my critique partners, and they became very excited about an entire weekend of writing. So, we set off to plan it by first picking a weekend everyone could attend, and second, finding a central spot to meet because one of the Lit Ladies had moved more than four hours away due to her husband getting a new job. We decided on Bennett Springs State Park near Lebanon, Missouri pictured above. It was a beautiful spot; however, all the cabins were booked up. So we wound up staying in the "hotel." This is where our trouble began. .  .

When you read the word "hotel," you are probably thinking of a multistory building with a lobby, room service, telephones, an elevator, a few amenities in your room, and more. I know, I know, we were staying in a state park, but all of us were picturing a hotel in the middle of that state park, which is known for trout fishing. (Are you all laughing yet?) Needless to say, we passed up our "hotel" room several times because it turns out it is just a building with about ten rooms (five on top and five on the bottom), and it is really just a glorified cabin. Actually not even glorified--just a cabin. But we didn't let this stop us.

We had a plan before we got there of huge writing sessions (luckily, there was NO WI-FI in the hotel), when we were going to eat, when we were going to goof off, and finally when we were going to create vision boards. This plan, it turns out, is very important because if you have no plan and you are staying someplace you are not expecting, you are more likely to just goof off and talk and well, take a nap. We also e-mailed each other our goals of what we wanted to work on before we went on the retreat to hold ourselves accountable.

Besides the rooms not being what we expected AND the power going out for two hours in over 100 degree Farenheit heat at night, things went well. We all got a lot accomplished and renewed our spirit to work on our creative writing. Here's the "plan" we had for the weekend. We could only book one night for the hotel, so the first night was actually at my house. When I blog next week and share part two, I plan to share the "WHAT WE LEARNED" portion of the retreat, so that you can learn from our mistakes if you want to do this  yourself!

Sarah writing on Sat. afternoon!
Here's our schedule that worked pretty well:


At coffee shop near Margo's:
3:30 to 6:00 Write
6:00 Eat dinner
Discuss at Margo's
Go to bed EARLY!

Saturday morning
8:00 Leave
11:00 Arrive
Have a baby shower/contract celebration party!
1:00 Write (we all took little breaks--for walks, eating, etc during this time, but we wrote a lot!)
5:00  Swim
6:00 Eat and discuss our WIP
7:00 Write
9:00 Make vision boards

Sunday morning
8:00 Write
11:30 Check out/eat lunch--discuss how things went
1:00 Drive home

Okay, stay tuned for part two, which will be up on my next blogging day, and I'll tell you what we learned, what worked, and what didn't. I'll tell you that we can't wait for our retreat next year!

When Margo is not busy with the Lit Ladies or working on her current middle-grade mystery series, she's teaching classes for WOW! Her next one is on middle-grade novels, and it starts on Friday. For more information, check out the WOW! classroom here.


Cathy C. Hall said...

Margo, I DID laugh at the trout fishing part. But still, it sounds like you had a great plan for your writer's retreat.

Um...I'm a little worried that maybe things didn't go according to plans? :-)

Margo Dill said...

Well, Cathy, first we have to thank you for inspiring us to create our retreat. And although we did steer a little from our plan, it actually wasn't too different than what we thought. Just a few funny things that happened along the way. . .:) The power outage being a big one. LOL

Becky Povich said...

I guess I missed this in May, but had to stop and read it after reading Margo's new post about HER writing retreat with her critique group. Sounds wonderful! I tried to get a few gals together a year or two ago to share a condo at Lake of the Ozarks, but we just couldn't get it worked out for various reasons. I'm going to start thinking about this again now. Thanks Margo! And thanks Cathy C!

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