While writing might be a solitary affair, the reality is that writing with no distractions doesn’t happen as often as we’d like.
Responsibilities, jobs, kids—basically life—eats into that creative time and are usually the priority for the hours in your day.
And while that’s the way it should be, now and then, putting your writing first needs to happen so you can finish a project, refill your creative well, meet a deadline, and boost your motivation.
That’s why a writing retreat is a great idea.
Recently, I went on my first with Belinda Grant, Sandy Barker, and K.D. Kells, members of the #6amAusWriters Twitter group. We spent a weekend writing, brainstorming our respective WIPs, and talking about future manuscripts (as well as eating, laughing, and sharing life stories).
We all came away with new words added to our current WIPs, our creative cups full, and achieved the following benefits.
The Benefits Of A Writing Retreat
Knowing other writers who understand the ups and downs of being a word-smith is invaluable. When you can converse about those issues in real life, it’s even better.
When we weren’t writing, we were talking about writing and the scenes we were stuck on, the plots we were trying to work out, the ideas we wanted another opinion on. Being able to talk about your manuscript, and hearing others talk about theirs, made for great motivation.
Another motivating benefit of a retreat is related to the act of writing itself, more specifically, staying on track for a decent length of time.
When you’re writing at home, it’s very easy to get distracted and procrastinate. When you’re writing in a room with others, it’s much easier to stay on task. After all, no one wants to be the only writer not writing.
Once you see what you can achieve when you’re concentrating and not reaching for your phone every five minutes (cue the phone jail pictured above!), the motivation to keep that successful writing streak going is strong.
All You Have To Do Is Write
Other than the basics of getting ready for the day and eating, the only other responsibility you have during a retreat is to write.
Previous to this weekend, I was struggling to edit through a chapter a day in my WIP. During the 2-and-a-half day retreat, I edited 5 full chapters, 1 scene, and fixed multiple story ripples. It had been a long time since I’d gotten that much writing done—and it felt great!
If you need to be productive in a short amount of time, a retreat is the place to do it.
It’s A Different Atmosphere
Writing in a different atmosphere to your usual shakes up the creativity. And if everyone else is working around you, it’s contagious.
If you’re worried about not being able to concentrate or are hesitant about working in front of others, don’t be. Everyone is so focused on their own screens that you’ll be able to work with no problems.
You can also take headphones to get yourself in a writing bubble, or you can use the option of moving to another room/space if you need to work on your own for a while.
Being in a different atmosphere, especially one that is made for crafting words, is guaranteed to get you out of any writing funk.
You Can Use Your Scheduling Skills
While on the retreat, we didn’t just wing our writing time; we organized a schedule with some structure beforehand.
While we didn’t stick to it religiously, we followed it as much as we could, including being up at 6 am each morning to write, having a daily walk, and regular break times for meals and snacks.
The rest of the time we wrote in 60-90 minute blocks, which is how we achieved so many of our goals.
Those blocks of time flew by, and being able to talk about what we’d worked on afterward was encouraging and rewarding.
If a writing retreat sounds like something you’d like to try, it’s easy to organize. You can even do it solo if that suits your situation.
We rented an Airbnb and split the cost, but holding a retreat at a fellow writer’s empty home, a hotel room, or even at your own house are all options. All you need is space and hours/days of free time that can be dedicated to just writing.
Pack your essentials, computers, cords, notebooks, chargers, a phone jail, tea, and plenty of snacks and you’ll be all set.
If those reasons, and these benefits, haven’t convinced you, did I mention you’re also allowed to eat a lot of cheese and a chocolate lasagna? 😊
— K.M. Allan