Navigation menu

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Speak Out!: My DIY Writing Retreat, guest post by Renee Roberson

When my husband suggested he take both our kids on a recent campout, my first thought was, what in the world would I do with a whole weekend alone?

It didn’t take me long to figure it out. Last year, I had the opportunity to attend a six-hour writer’s workshop on a nearby farm, complete with coffee, homemade muffins and lunch fresh from the garden. It was very inspirational and had the atmosphere of a relaxing retreat. This time, I decided to see how much I could accomplish on my own.

I made a conscious choice to minimize normal everyday distractions that plague me when I typically work from home. I stocked up on a few healthy frozen meals for the weekend. I didn’t work on cleaning the house, and I didn’t even run the dishwasher until an hour before my family came back home.

I decided to spend the time working on non-paying projects I never can seem to fit into my day. My family left around 3:30 p.m. on a Friday. By 7 p.m. I had submitted article queries to two national women’s magazines. Within the next hour, I had cranked out an 800-word rough draft of a children’s story that had been bouncing around in my head for a few days.

Saturday, I piled a stack of back issues of The Writer and Writer’s Digest next to my morning coffee. With a stack of Post-it notes, I paged through each issue looking for new markets where I could send my work. As I did that, I took notes for the magazine article ideas that kept materializing. In true “retreat” fashion, I took some time on Saturday afternoon to use a spa gift certificate I had, where I enjoyed a 75-minute massage.

After returning home, I filled two pages with more ideas for short stories and articles. I had originally written out an agenda for what I hoped to accomplish during my retreat. By Saturday, I realized you have to be open to wherever the creative process takes you. I had hoped to revise a few chapters of my novel and work on my middle-grade fiction book outline, but for some reason, most of my work stayed centered on non-fiction writing. Because non-fiction writing is where I currently earn most of my income, I was okay with that.

On Sunday, I watched a 60-minute special on the prolific writer Stephen King, which seemed like the perfect ending to my retreat. Hearing about how he grew up in poverty but pushed his way through college and achieving his dream of becoming a published writer further inspired me.

When my family returned, my husband could not believe that amount of progress I had made. I highly recommend trying out your own DIY retreat. It doesn’t even have to occur over an entire weekend – even just a day can be enough to rejuvenate and refresh the writing spirit.


Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and mother of two who specializes in writing about parenting, pop culture, health and fitness and travel. She also serves as the editor of Little Ones, a bi-monthly parenting magazine based in Charlotte, N.C. Visit her website at

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


  1. Anonymous6:24 AM

    Great timing for this topic. Right now an expensive sponsored retreat isn't possible, but I've been kicking this very idea around. You inspired me to plan my own retreat soon!

  2. Renee--You are right. You don't need a swanky retreat center in order to get lots of things accomplished. Just a house (or a basement) to yourself for an evening or a day or a weekend or--dare I say it--a week, and the creativity can spew out.

  3. You got so much accomplished! Great inspiration for those of us with families and busy schedules. I like how you prepared ahead and didn't deal with regular responsiblities during your writing time.

  4. Good for you! Nothing like "no interruptions" to get the creative juices flowing!

  5. That sounds AWESOME! Today the ladies in my critique group met at one girl's work (BLACK FRIDAY) when no one was there and we wrote. It was great--our hubbies took care of the kids. I finished the draft of my next novel. YAY!


We love to hear from readers! Please leave a comment. :)