We talked about it for years but it finally came together last month. Our first writer retreat! It was one of the best experiences and I can’t wait to do it again.
Whether you’re thinking of hosting a writer retreat or participating in one, here are 5 takeaways I learned from ours:
HAVE AN AGENDA
Before we met up for the retreat, we discussed what we wanted to accomplish. Did we want to write and then share our work? I belong to a writer group with two other writers and they were also going to be at the retreat so we already had an established rhythm. Our host was glad to participate in a critique session. Our plan was to write in the morning and then have the afternoons free for either sightseeing or a critique session. It worked out well for me because I’m a morning writer.
BALANCE TIME BETWEEN WRITING AND SOCIALIZING
At first, I thought I’d maybe only explore one day but I’m so glad I spent two days checking out our surroundings. We went to Placerville one day and the next day we visited Folsom. At Folsom Prison, we got a private tour of the musuem. And WE FED DEER! That was not on my bucket list but now it is and I can check it off!
BE APPRECIATIVE OF YOUR HOST – DISCUSS AHEAD OF TIME RESPONSIBILITIES / DIETARY NEEDS
Our host emailed us ahead of time asking if anyone had allergies, dietary restrictions, or preferences. Our very generous host made easy family style meals: spaghetti the first night, chili the next night, the third night we went out for dinner, and the last night we grilled outside. Next time we could try a different tactic: each person is responsible for preparing one meal. Or you could alternate hosting duties. However, if you’re like us, only one host has a big enough home to accommodate everyone.
HAVE A PERSONAL WRITING GOAL
I was working on a short story before the writer retreat and struggling with the direction of the story. My goal at the end was to establish a solid working outline for my story. I wanted to brainstorm and hash out ideas versus read pages.
FIND THE RIGHT WRITING NOOK
Everyone differs as to where and how they prefer to write. I like to write in silence with no music at all. However, I didn’t realize that I’m a much more productive writer when I’m also by myself rather than sharing a table with other writers. The first day I shared a table outside but I found myself easily distracted. I enjoyed writing outdoors but after I moved inside by a window, I found I was much more productive. I like being in a situation where writers are working around me as long as I have an area to myself.
And a bonus tip that applies not just to writer retreats but travel in general…
There will always be hiccups and unanticipated problems. But as long as you go with the flow, then everything will be okay. We left later than we intended but that was okay. Our host had a plan to take us wine tasting one afternoon, but we enjoyed ourselves so much in Placerville, that we continued to explore the quaint town instead. Part of the fun of traveling is the unexpected. Often that leads to the best memories!