You Do Need a Writing Retreat

Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Retreat house
You need a writing retreat. Yes, you do. I didn't know this year when my writing group planned a retreat at the lake, if I would be able to attend. Sometimes, things like this seem overwhelming as a single parent, and I often question, "Is it worth the planning and trouble before I even get there?"

Yes. A thousand times yes.

So why?

I went with four women writers who are a complete and total inspiration to me because all of them are actively working on their novels. And let me tell you, these novels are good! I read the first 40 to 70 pages of all of them this past weekend, and I felt like I was reading published books. My group can write, and that inspires me to get back in the seat and create something they can read!

So that's one reason why it is worth it--I am feeling the stirrings of getting back to fiction.

The view

The second thing is that it gave me time to myself to work on that new blog and catch up on some editing. When I'm at home, I want to write, and my daughter is great--she really is. But I also want to spend time with her and she is only 5 years old, so. . .I am distracted and don't get a lot done. At the retreat, we had meals planned out. We all had goals to accomplish, and we all respected each other's time. I mean, it was perfect. And I am almost done with my blog!

One thing we do every year that I think is super important is create a vision board. If you haven't done one of these before, just GOOGLE vision board, and you will come up with all sorts of blog posts on how to make these and why they are important. There's even a vision board app if you would prefer to do this the electronic way. My vision board is currently hanging by my desk, and it is full of what I want my life to look like during the 2016-2017 school year. It's not just writing--although that is part of it. It is also love, parenting, self-esteem, friends and family, hobbies, travel, self-conduct and more. Of course, it also has my word of the year on it-ORGANIZATION.

Anyway, if you have the chance to go on a retreat, go. Make the effort, organize your family, take a day off of work--and go. You will not regret it. If you don't know of any retreats, you can create your own. You don't need to know anyone with a lakehouse--you can have a retreat in a hotel or at someone's house if her family can clear out for a couple days.

You love your friends and your family. But there is NOTHING like spending quality time with other writers to get you inspired and working toward your goals.

Here's to retreating! Cheers!

Margo L. Dill is a writer, editor, and teacher, living in St. Louis, MO. Check out her new blog on parenting and writing here or her editing site here


Camille said...

Oh my gosh, Margo. I have been so inspired since our retreat, too, because our novels are all such high quality. To your readers I'd also add that an honest and trustworthy critique group is one of your best assets for a successful writing career. The second book in my VOODOO BUTTERFLY series was giving me some trouble so I needed a solid block of time to focus (ie. not be distracted by my two little ones and the hubster). I worked through two of the tough chapters giving me trouble on our retreat. Preschool starts in two weeks and I'm so ready to really get back into the book.

Angela Mackintosh said...

The retreat sounds inspiring, Margo! I like that you had all your meals planned out. Can you tell me a little bit about your schedule? Like how you ladies planned writing time and reading/critique time, etc. I'd like to plan one of these soon, so looking for tips. ;)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--I'm planning a writing retreat for early November. I hope ours is just as productive and fun as yours was...

Margo Dill said...

Hi Ang: Sorry for the delay in answering you. I started to write a comment on my phone and then lost it. SO here we go.

Our schedule was not too rigid, but I think that's because we all appreciate the writing time, AND this is like our 4th or 5th retreat. SO we are pros. LOL

On Friday afternoon, most people arrived. I'm not sure if some of them wrote or not. I didn't get to come til after work. But we ate dinner on Friday night late and then just kind of caught up with each other. There are multiple places to write, and so if someone wanted to work, they actually could.

On Saturday, we all woke up whenever we wanted and started writing. I guess around 9, we all had breakfast, together. Then we wrote some more. I also used this time to catch up on my critique group's work, and some people read. You know, whatever is going to help you be a better writer or person during this time is great! :) Then we had lunch together around 1:30. Then we wrote some more. Some people went for a walk at various times or took naps. (See, very flexible). Then we had dinner around 7, and then we might have written a bit more. (I don't think I did). Then we did the vision boards on Saturday night, which took a couple hours. On Sunday, we woke up and wrote again (similar to Saturday morning). After breakfast, we all talked about our vision boards and wrote some more. We had lunch and went home. So, it was very individual and a lot of good talking about writing and life during meals. The End.

Now the important thing: the food-- We each took a meal basically. We had a full kitchen, so that made it a bit easier. So Friday night, we had meatball sandwiches and salad made by Tricia. On Saturday morning,we were supposed to have breakfast casserole but there was a small snafu, so we had muffins made by Tricia (it's her lakehouse) and fruit brought by Brandi. At lunch, we had chicken salad sandwiches from me and guacamole from Camille. (And everyone brings snacks to share throughout the day) On Saturday night, we had pork tacos made by Camille--she cooked the pork all day in the crock pot and then shredded it. On Sunday morning, we had that yummy breakfast casserole by Sarah and lunch we had leftovers from the weekend.

So if you have more members than food needed, you can have people share a meal. I've also heard of people just giving money and one or two people go shopping for the whole weekend. Tricia has also been on retreats where everyone brings all their own food for the weekend, but to me, the meals are part of this. Sharing a meal with each other is a good break and great fellowship.

Margo Dill said...

Camille: You know how I feel about book 2. It needs to get written NOW. :)

Sioux: Hope yours is as successful as ours!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Thanks for the detailed info, Margo! I like that it was flexible, and that's a smart idea about having each person make a meal. The carnitas sound yummy! You're lucky to have a group of writers that work well together. :)

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