With all the pressures of bills, work, social life, and general commitments, it is hard to find time for the things that are important to you as a writer. That is the BEAUTY of a writing retreat! It is a special time that you get to set aside specifically for you to be completely immersed in your own writing oasis. Below is a list of some things to consider during your writing retreat so you can get the absolute most out of this very special time.
Be Far Away
Find a retreat space that is far from what is normal to you. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a long distance from where you spend the majority of your time, but it should be in an unfamiliar location and an exciting one. Being in a different physical space allows you to see new things, hear new sounds, and opens you up to new experiences. All of these fuel inspiration.
Take Enough Time
Writing retreats are few and far between. If you are lucky enough to take part in one, make it count. A decent writing retreat should be at minimum, 1-week. This gives you time to unwind from habit, become accustomed to the new location, and truly maximize your experience. The maximum suggested length of time for a retreat is around 1-month. Any longer than that and the marvel will wear off and the process will fall back into general “work”.
Set a Goal
Have a general goal in mind but don’t beat yourself up over it. A retreat is supposed to be YOUR time. Your life is full of deadlines and people holding you accountable for things. This is your time to set your own boundaries and accomplish goals to further your progress and better your writing. Have a goal in mind of how many pages you would like to write, then do your very best to reach it.
Keep Track of Progress
Keeping track of your progress throughout the retreat will be that serotonin boost you may need to push forward each day. It lets you know that you ARE making progress and you ARE getting something out of this project.
This is probably the most important part of the process. When was the last time you put your phone away for a whole day? Didn’t respond to an email? Didn’t check Facebook? This may be one of the only socially acceptable times in your life where you can completely unplug from all digital life and focus solely on your craft.
Let your family and friends know ahead of time that you won’t be able to be reached between certain hours (if at all). Take the time off of work and let them know you will not be available during this time. Set an automated response in your email. This way, you can ensure your focus can be solely on the retreat.
Every writer knows that reading is just as important as writing. Bring your favorite books to this retreat. Bring books you love and books you’ve always wanted to read. Bring novels, memoirs, poetry, short stories, and non-fiction. Bring sudokus and word puzzles.
You aren’t expected to read every one of these, but flipping through the pages might help inspire you if/when you get stuck. Plus, it is good to do number games like sudoku because it works your brain in a different way than writing does.
Get into a Routine
It is VERY important to set up a routine as soon as you get there. This will help you maximize your time and deter lethargy and Netflix binging. Waking up every day and knowing what your schedule will be is much easier than “just winging it” because it holds you accountable for the work you intend to do and keeps you focused on your goal.
Bring Creature Comforts
While being in a different atmosphere is a key component of a writing retreat, it is also crucial to have some creature comforts around to ground you. Being in an unfamiliar place can be intimidating, but having a picture of your partner, a couple of trinkets, or a special blanket will prove handy in the struggle to make this random space your own.
Proper Energy Levels
Keeping your focus strong has a lot to do with your energy levels. Get a proper amount of sleep each night, stay hydrated, and keep the coffee/tea/Mountain Dew flowing.
Light exercise is also important. This doesn’t mean you need to bring dumbbells or have a high-intensity workout routine, but it is important to get some outdoor time and go for long walks every day. Sleeping well, staying hydrated, and raising your heart rate are great ways to keep your focus strong during this retreat.
Lastly, GET COMFY. At the end of the day, this is your time for you. Have a whole day where you wear only your fluffy slippers and a top hat. Dawn your coziest robe or wear loose fitting clothing. You aren’t there to impress anyone, so dress in a way that makes you happy.
On the flip side, some people find that dressing up helps boost their confidence. Maybe you are that type of person. Each day, when you wake up, put on your best makeup and do your hair, or get a full-body workout in and throw on your best button-up and tie. Whatever makes you feel good, wear that.
Those are a few tips and tricks to helping you get the most out of your writing retreat. These events are rare to come by and you deserve to make this time the best it can be. So, book your location, pack your bags, and get writing!