Whether you are a closet writer wanting to send off that short story, a published writer in need of a creativity boost, an empty nester ready to write your memoir or a university graduate embarking on a writing career, a writing retreat is where you’ll meet your tribe.
At a writing retreat you will be surrounded by those who totally get you. Other writers, whether established or just beginning, know what it’s like to feel disconnected from your creativity. The people you meet at a writing retreat are intimately familiar with your fear of failure and your anxiety to share your work with others.
A retreat is an important opportunity to develop your confidence as a writer.
At a retreat you bond as a group, you have spontaneous interactions over breakfast and long chats after dinner. You’ll be participating in creating a safe container for sharing your work with others.
By reading your work out aloud, you become the writer you want to be.
There are many opportunities to connect with the community of writers. Writers festivals, like the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival, are great events where you will meet authors and publishers, fill up on inspiring conversations, mingle with people who share your love for words and writing, but they are not occasions where you’ll get many – if any – words on the page.
A writing retreat, by contrast, is an opportunity to withdraw deep into your creative mind, chart new territory and write until your wrists hurt.
Five reasons why every writer needs to go on a writing retreat:
1. Feed your 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. We all know those dreaded days when we feel totally uninspired and disconnected from our 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 help to silence the potential inside you.
2. Boost your productivity
A retreat can be the catalyst for kickstarting that book you’ve always been meaning to write or to complete a project.
By going on a retreat you make an investment in your craft and you’ll want to see results. Your retreat leader is there to guide and coach you to produce your best work, but they can’t do it for 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.
3. Develop good habits
A fitness trainer once told me that to build a routine takes 21 days, to loose your fitness takes two weeks of inactivity. Something similar happens to our writing. When we write every day, all day in the company of others, we magically create a routine that we need to protect and cherish when we return to our roles as mothers, employees, wives etc.
I find that the mere experience of being on a retreat and writing every day for a week, stays with me as a memory of what I am capable of.
A writing retreat is what bootcamp is to the fitness freak. You train your writing muscle until it wants to continue to do its thing, no matter the weather.
4. Become inspired
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. Whether it’s for a weekend or an entire week, everything we do for that designated stretch of time revolves around writing. We sketch characters, we paint word pictures, we compose captivating scenes, we explore and play with new writing styles.
We fill up on our craft, we bond with the muse and we allow ourselves to go where we haven’t dared or thought to go before. We’ll come away refreshed, energised and filled with enthusiasm for our passion.
5. Build a community
Unlike at a writers conference or festival, where you network with other writers and publishers to increase your public profile, at a writing retreat you draw inspiration from your peer group. You make friends, you share your fears and you challenge each other to step out of your comfort zone.
A writing retreat satisfies two essential needs of any writer. The need for solitude and the companionship of those who understand what drives you.
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.