Writing Retreats: A Time to Fill (With Writing)

Thursday, March 15, 2018
        Well, router problems plagued me. Finally, I am able to post.

        I recently was at a writing retreat. Two days to do nothing but write... It was heavenly. It was a productive experience for several reasons:

  • We started fresh. I've been to some retreats that begin on Friday evening, and by that time, I'm toast. Nothing much gets accomplished. I'm battling falling asleep while eating the dinner or engaging in the conversation.
          This retreat began on Saturday morning, when everyone was alert and refreshed.

  • It was unstructured. I know, I know, there are some people who would like little "workshops" or sessions at various times during the day when they go on a retreat. I, however, was looking forward to long spans of time to do nothing but writing and revising and pondering.
          So, we formed groups of 3, and each threesome chose a couple of times during the weekend to
          get together and respond to each other's writing. Other than that, our time was our own.

  • There were goodie bags for everyone. In the bags were chocolate and packets of fig bars and protein bars. Along with the edibles was a note that explained each of the choices. For example, there was a handful of Hershey Nuggets in the bag, and the note said, "Sometimes all  we need is a nugget of an idea to get our writing started." For the fig bar, it said, "There are times that you just have to forge ahead with your writing, not giving  a flying fig what your inner critic thinks."
          Chocolate is always good...

  • A wide variety of projects were being worked on, which was inspiring. One teacher at the retreat (they were all teachers) was working on writing some new songs. She even brought her guitar and sang some John Prine and Alison Krauss, along with some of her own compositions. Being serenaded while I wrote was delightful. 
          Other teachers were working on novels, short stories, poetry--there was even a teacher working
          on a synopsis and query letter (me). The synopsis is still a hot mess.The query letter? It's still in
          its embryonic stage...

          How about you? What do you like to see when you go to a writing retreat?

Sioux Roslawski is a middle school teacher, a wife, a mother, a grammy, a writer and a dog rescuer. In her spare time she knits, reads, and watches sad movies. If you'd like to read more of her stuff, check out her blog.


Cathy C. Hall said...

That is my favorite kind of writing retreat, Sioux. Lots of writing and lots of chocolate. :-)

Joanne said...

I love the idea of having writers from one profession working on multiple, varied projects. I do fairly structured writing retreats, but I've been thinking of mixing that up with an unstructured one. I like the idea of forming cohorts to meet and share, while still allowing lots of free time. Good luck on your query letter and synopsis. In my view, they're the hardest of all to write.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--Is there any situation that isn't improved with chocolate?

J. Glenn--Yes, it's my first synopsis, and it's proved to be a bear.

Most of the groups scheduled a get-together early in the retreat, to bounce off ideas, get some initial feedback and make plans. The other meeting was towards the end of the retreat, when they could share what they had accomplished and get feedback.

By the way, the accountability group is working well. I'm nudging myself to do things I've been putting off for ages. You are brilliant! ;)

Margo Dill said...

I really like having huge chunks of time like you mentioned and someone to cook meals for me. :) LOL When my writing group has gone on retreat, we each take a meal, so then you are only being interrupted to cook once! LOL

Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--Yes, the folks at Toddhall Retreat Center DO make sure we're well-fed. Not having to worry about meals... having time to take a nap... a circle of writerly folks to give me feedback? Add all those up, and for me, it equals success.

The collaborative method to provide meals is a great idea. I might just use that some time (when planning a DIY retreat).

Renee Roberson said...

Now I want to go on a writing retreat. I've only ever been to one, and it was a more of a poetry workshop on a farm where we were fed two meals and they were AWESOME. Putting this on my list to do this spring--even if it just me in a hotel somewhere with room service and my computer!

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