Make a Writing Retreat One of Your Goals
What I got out of taking time away to think and talk about my writing.
Writing retreats are, like most professional development activities, what you make of them. I went into this one fully expecting to get the most out of workshopping other people’s work, and getting feedback on mine, but there was much more that I found valuable.
The retreat I just attended had thirteen writers, which I think is a perfect number for a good student to teacher (2) ratio. Two small groups allowed everyone to participate as much as they desired. It seemed like everyone had a good, healthy balance of participation in the retreat workshop element and taking time to enjoy the city and all it had to offer.
What I Gained
Each day (but one, saved for a local culturally-rich excursion) filled the morning with workshop sessions. Two afternoons had optional add-on sessions, two evenings had writers’ readings, and each writer had one-on-one scheduled time with a journal editor. There were three group dinners, and plenty of time for the writers to visit with one another during our shared, provided breakfasts.
All of this time was so valuable, and exploring a new city in an unfamiliar country was additionally good for opening up new pathways in my writing brain.
I did a lot of thinking about my process and goals, and the time to focus on that helped me define some things that have been amorphous.
I made new writing friends from all over, and learned from their experiences as writers at all different stages in their careers. Other writers are such great resources for information about grants, residencies, publications, teachers, other writers to read and much, much more.
I gained an accountability partner — someone assigned to me the first day of the retreat — and we have agreed to check in with one another down the road. We shared a couple of meals and gained understanding of one another’s goals and the obstacles we’re trying to overcome.
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I wasn’t sure what to expect from the first writing retreat I went on — I thought I might write more than I did, producing a new draft or two during the week. But instead, I wrote my way through some existing drafts, in areas that they need to change, expand, and grow into different, improved endings. I’m satisfied with the work that came out of the workshop sessions, and the exercise of thinking through some areas of my work in a different way. I’m excited to see what impact this has on my writing as I get back to my routine.
Have you been on a writing retreat? What did you get out of it? If there are retreats you’re considering, let me know!