Living in Asia, every day I am reminded of the importance of community. There are no old peoples homes or nannies in Vietnam or Bali. The extended family takes care of itself like a self-sufficient microcosm. The very young are looked after by the elderly and the elderly will be cared for by the younger members of the family. It’s an unwritten contract. Everybody is expected to participate in the greater good of collective identity.
As a writer from an individualistic western culture, who spends long stretches in solitude, I often feel like an aberration among my local community in Hoi An.
At harvest time, for several weeks, I watched as my local neighborhood came together every day to help each other with the laborious process of sun drying freshly harvested rice on large tarpaulins spread out on shared roads and bike paths. At sunset everybody mobilised again to lend a hand scooping rice into large yellow sacks and carting it away for safe storage overnight in the family’s individual farm yard.
It made me think that as writers, we too can benefit from coming together to harvest the rewards of our hard work collectively.
Writers need both solitude and community
In Bali we will get together for a week as a community of creative seekers, writers and questing individuals. We will enjoy both solitude and community. You will have periods of free time, to go on your personal inner journey. You’ll have time to wander in solitude through the rice fields to follow your own thoughts, or sit quietly in the shade of a tree, your feet dipped into the pristine mountain stream as you scribble away at your own pace.
For a week you will also enjoy the companionship of those who truly get what drives you. All writers know, that showing your work to a friend who doesn’t write is very different (and often incredibly frustrating) from showing your work to a stranger who writes.
Build a community
Other writers, whether established or just beginning, know what it’s like to feel disconnected from your creativity. The people you meet at a writers retreat are intimately familiar with your fear of failure, your anxiety to share your work with others and your burning desire to release your unwritten stories. Your tribe knows that on some days you just need to stay in your pjs all day (ok, let’s make that yoga pants and t-shirt) to get the work done.
At a retreat you bond as a group. You’ll have spontaneous interactions over breakfast and long chats after dinner. During our guided daily writing exercises, you’ll be participating in creating a safe container for sharing your work with others.
We all know those dreaded days when we feel totally uninspired and disconnected from our creativity. When you spend any stretch of time writing in the company of other writers, you participate in generating a creative synergy that will nourish what sustains your craft.
Feed your creativity
A retreat will show you loud and clear that your creative genius is always there. It will remind you that the distractions of everyday life and the vortex of social media silence the potential inside you.
I find that when I am surrounded by my tribe, I push myself harder to produce more. It’s as if my unconscious is driving me to get value for money. Of course, the success of a retreat can’t be measured by your final word count. But the momentum you gain on a retreat is a tangible outcome that will stay with you as you transition back into daily life.
The word inspiration derives from the Latin ‘inspirare’ which means ‘to breath in, to draw breath.’ At a writing retreat we live and breath writing. For a whole week, everything we do revolves around writing. We sketch characters, we paint word pictures, we compose captivating scenes, we play with new writing styles and we retreat deep inside us to get to the real stories that we need to tell.
You make friends, you share your fears and you challenge each other to step out of your comfort zone.
I find that writing alongside others for an extended period of time, reading each others work, receiving feedback on my writing, saturates me with inspiration and creative energy until it’s time for another retreat.
Are you ready to join me in Bali? Click on the link below to sign up.
Deposits are due by the end of August. Let’s do this together!
Writing for Wellbeing in Bali: Find Your Voice, Release Your Stories, Unleash Your Creativity with yoga & sound bowl balancing
October 30 – November 6, 2017
(retreat starts the day after the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival)