The Ten Top Benefits of Traveling to a Writing Retreat

Monday, April 08, 2013
By Laura Davis

1. Writing retreats lead to deep transformative experiences, cracking us open and awakening us to new possibilities. Nothing is as powerful as walking away from our daily lives to enter a safe, sacred environment solely focused on enhancing and supporting our creativity. One of the things I love most about retreats is seeing people’s faces change from the first day to the last. They often look scared and uncertain on the first day—but by the end of the retreat, their faces are gleaming with love, connection and openness.

2. You leave behind all the things that distract you from your writing. When we are freed from our to-do lists and the relentless pressure of the “undone,” we are free to focus on our heart’s desire: connecting with the deep place the truest writing comes from.

3. You leave behind your excuses. Making a conscious choice to commit to your writing for an intensive period of time focuses the mind and leads to breakthroughs in your work—and in your life.

4. You step away from the routines and obligations that weigh us down and lead us to crave escape, rather than vibrant engagement in life. Escaping the habitual opens the doors to awakening and creativity. When we put ourselves in a beautiful place where the conditions are designed specifically to support and nurture us and our creativity, we hone our focus toward what we really want.

5. Traveling is transformative and enables us to leave behind old, tired identities. As Joseph Dispenza says, in The Way of the Traveler: “When we move out of the familiar…we set in motion a series of events that, taken together, bring about changes at the very root of our being.”

6. Seeing a new culture awakens our senses and enables us to perceive the world with fresh eyes. What makes great writing “pop” is rich sensory detail. Traveling to a new place lets us see, smell, hear and taste a myriad of new experiences. When we enter a brand new environment, we continually notice the kinds of unusual, quirky details that make writing vivid and memorable.

7. Taking risks in life enables us to take risks in our writing. When I brought writers to Bali last year, I asked them to make the commitment to take a new risk every day. These ranged from tasting an unfamiliar food to starting a conversation with a Balinese person, from climbing under a waterfall to bartering in the market. We kept a log of our daily risks, and they got more brazen each day. These daily risks paved the way for us to take greater risks in our writing as well: approaching a previously taboo subject, trying out a new voice, reading a vulnerable piece out loud.

8. Traveling with an intention and a focus creates a far more meaningful vacation. When you travel with a purpose, your vacation is much richer than when you are simply go to relax or see the sights in a new place. And the fact that you are writing about your experiences guarantees a rich, lasting record of your adventures.

9. Living, working and playing with other writers quickly creates an intimate writing community. When you write intimately with other writers, you are deeply inspired by their stories. When another writer in the group is gifted at dialogue—able to evoke a vivid setting—or a memorable character—or is particularly brave about putting herself on the page—you learn to do the same through osmosis and example.

10. The new habits and friends you make at a writing retreat enrich your life for months and years to come. Students at writing retreats share a profound, life-changing experience. The bonding that happens at a retreat leads to lifelong friendships. People return home feeling refreshed, renewed, and deeply connected—both to themselves and to an amazing creative community.


Since she published her first book, The Courage to Heal, in 1988, Laura Davis has been teaching and encouraging other writers. If you’d like to experience the transformative power of Laura’s writing retreats, there are still a few spaces left in Laura’s “Write, Travel Transform” summer retreat: in Bali, from June 21st-July 5th, and in Scotland, from August 14th-24th. You can reach Laura at lauradavis[at]lauradavis[dot]net or call her at 831-464-9517.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Laura--Going to a different place for a writing retreat usually means you can take your writing to a different place as well. I go to a writing retreat every summer. It's at an abbey, there's no TV and limited internet, the food is simple...what stretches in front of me is lots and lots of uninterrupted writing.

Thanks for the post.

Margo Dill said...

I agree, Sioux and Laura. One day, I hope to go somewhere as exciting as Laura is offering! But for now, my critique group also plans a writing retreat every year. This yaer, we are going to Hermann, MO (wine country!), renting a house, and writing (okay and probably drinking some wine, too. :) I agree, you have to get away to write sometimes. Thanks for the post!

Unknown said...

I have a writing friend who keeps inviting me to a writing retreat and it always seems life is saying no. One of these times, soon, I need to ignore the obstacles and just go. This post was a great motivator.

Marcia Peterson said...

An inspiring list that really makes you want to go on a retreat. I guess that was your intent though!

Laura Davis said...

Sioux, I think what happens on retreat is that people often have writing breakthroughs. It's enough to kick start people over a hump or a block or a stuck place. And if they continue to practice when they go home, it can lead to a lasting change, not just a momentary high.

Laura Davis said...

Julie, I hope you say yes to your friend. It can not only lead to real breakthroughs in your writing; it can be a wonderful thing for deepening your friendship as well.

Laura Davis said...

MP, take the leap and do it. You may find that you want to make it an annual event. It doesn't have to be fancy or exotic--though of course those are wonderful--just breaking your routine can make a huge difference.

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