Hello and welcome to the middle of the week. It's another #writerwednesday and today I thought I would shift gears a bit and talk about the coveted Writing Retreat. I was very privileged to attend a writing retreat this week, made possible by an affordable location, generous ride sharing, and a cooperative partner at home. Retreats, whether they are for a weekend or longer, are not always possible to manage in a hectic schedule. This one had months of planning and budgeting behind it. Having managed to attend retreats on both the more expensive side thanks to right place and time, and more affordable side, I definitely prefer the latter. But why bother to attend at all? Are they necessary?
Writing Retreats: Luxury vs Practicality
A Writing Retreat is definitely a luxury, but one that doesn't need all the bells and whistles to be effective. The idea behind it is to 'retreat' from the world for a time. The one I had the pleasure of attending this week had some excellent company and a relaxing atmosphere that let me reconnect with my creative side in a way I have been struggling to for months. The chance to just rest and live in the moment without dozens of obligations pulling in every direction is invaluable and highly under valued. And I almost didn't allow myself this opportunity, feeling I had too much to do, that the money could be put elsewhere, and a dozen others excuses we often tell ourselves.
When it comes to taking ourselves out of the grind and retreat to somewhere secluded and quiet, it is often more than a demand on finances that keeps us chained in place. Obligations to work, to family, juggling a dozen other things that make the time to step back for a day or two just never quite right.
Writing retreats, whether you take them with a group of people or hole up somewhere by yourself, can be an invaluable resource, if you can manage them both financially and personally. These do not need to be extravagant affairs at expensive locations. It could be a matter of finding a cheap rental with a working kitchen. If you feel the need to travel somewhere far enough away that you can't be pulled back home easily, choose a location on a map and start looking around. From rental trailers, cabins, air b & b's, motel 6's and more, there are affordable options that can work within most budgets. Having a working kitchen on hand allows you to bring in your own food, cutting the cost of dining out. A large group of writing friends can make a large rental affordable, with the added benefit of connecting and inspiring one another for a weekend.
Any retreat can be manageable with enough pre planning and budgeting, but with those factors aside, many of us don't allow ourselves to see Retreats, in any form, as anything but an extraneous luxury. In reshaping the idea, think of it from the practical side. A Writing Retreat can have a substantial impact on your creative focus, your productivity, and your mental health. On a professional side, it could be considered a write off expense. Doing a solo retreat can be the jump start you need to finish a project while a group retreat can be an incredible learning experience, sharing ideas and insights into this constantly shifting industry with other authors in the same pool.
A writing retreat is not a necessity to the modern writer, but it should not be a luxury you feel guilty about either. There are a dozen and one ways to create a retreat experience to help you reset and all are worth exploring. Sometimes it comes down to mental framing. A night away at a local hotel to bang out some words is just as much a retreat as getting away to another state in the middle of nowhere for a weekend. Both have the value of allowing us a space to breathe and refresh away from the demands of our day to day lives.
Don't Dismiss the Benefits of a Mini Retreat
A night away is not always possible, but an afternoon? Or a day? Perhaps a mini retreat is all that can be managed and that can be more than enough. Finding a comfortable place to hunker down and write for a few hours out and away from the confines of the house has its own set of benefits as well and is a lot more manageable. Coffee shops, and libraries are always a good go to destination we sometimes forget to make the effort of utilizing. If you have one or two writing friends within driving distance, maybe you could take turns 'hosting' a mini afternoon retreat in their area. A retreat and the idea of it, is whatever you make of it, whether it is done over the course of an afternoon or a week.