There’s always been a tug-of-war between the needs of a writing life and the demands of everyday life. If you have a family, their expectations factor into your day. Between writing, editing, social networking, promoting, speaking, and emails flooding our email accounts, we have to focus to keep up. Most writers have endless to do list, whether written or not. This wears us down over time, and usually drains creativity, the very lifeblood that infuses our writing. Finding some sort of respite becomes imperative.
A conference is not a writing retreat.
Writing conferences are all about connecting and learning, not resting and writing. That’s an important difference. Attending a writing conference can be important to your development as a writer, but you will usually go home crammed with information, weighted down with samples, and in need of sleep. I’ve often thought the ideal time to go on a writing retreat is immediately after a conference. That way you could spend a little time absorbing what you were taught, making sense of your notes, and acting on the opportunities you received.
So what is a writing retreat?
One, two or more days where you do nothing but write. No housework, no phone calls, no interruptions. Just you and your muse and the focus you have in a quiet place will let you work out thorny issues like plot pacing, a conclusion, point of view, or any other sticking point that has kept you from progressing, so you can keep chipping away at it when you get back home.
How to get the most out of a writing retreat?
You will be adapting to new surroundings, something that can disrupt your focus, so cut yourself some slack on that first day. You’ll probably still accomplish more than you would have at home, but work in stretches and save the marathons for a bit later in the retreat. You shouldn’t sit at your computer for hour after hour, even if you can. It’s not good for the body. Besides, part of going on retreat is to experience life as a writer not as a writing drudge. You’re also there to feed your creativity, and that takes moments of quiet reflection. Allow yourself to take walks, explore your surroundings, and if there are other writers with you, to visit. Just be considerate of other’s time. That late-night chat may be just the thing you need but an irritant to someone else trying to concentrate. It helps to set guidelines for socializing to establish where and when it is acceptable. Depending on your surroundings, you may be able to establish quiet areas and places members of your group can go to talk.
The most important thing to do when going on a writing retreat is to put together a plan of what you want to accomplish before you arrive. This will help orient you sooner, so you’ll waste less time getting into your writing groove. Once you do, you should be able to accomplish far more than you would have at home.
So where do you find a writer retreat…here at BookRhythm. Instead of us choosing the locations and times, we are asking you for your input so that we can develop retreats you will like to attend. Don’t be shy and don’t waste another moment, give us your feedback today. Please complete this FORM.