Twenty Reasons to Go on a Writing Retreat

Beyond the idea that writing retreats are good for body, mind, and spirit, you don’t really need a reason to go on one. But with the holidays clamoring for your time and attention, you may need to remind yourself of what your creative soul intuitively understands.

Print out this list of Twenty Reasons and post it on your bulletin board or tuck it in your notebook, paste it on your ceiling or hang it from a skyhook to dangle in front of your weary eyes as a reminder that, even if only for a day, or a half a day, or a half of a half a day, a quiet retreat to reconnect with your creative spirit may be the best gift you can give yourself.

 20 Reasons to Go on a Writing Retreat

  1. To renew your creative spirit
  2. To connect with your inner voice
  3. To begin a project
  4. To complete a project
  5. To focus your attention
  6. To change your perspective
  7. To unkink the coils of your brain
  8. To find connections
  9. To cross-fertilize
  10. To fill your empty cup
  11. To set a place for the Muse
  12. To have time to simply be
  13. To rest
  14. To read
  15. To renew
  16. To reward yourself
  17. To be in solitude
  18. To be with other writers
  19. To honor yourself as writer
  20. To Write

Continue reading

“If I could just get away . . . “

Our Mountain Retreat

Definition of irony: I am taking time away from my time away to write about getting away. That is, I have holed myself up in a mountain cabin in Idyllwild with my friend Dian for a month-long writing retreat. No Internet or cell-phone service unless I go “down the hill” as the local say, to a café, and no television only my Rodney Yee yoga DVDs and my laptop, a few of my notebooks and a firm commitment to finish the third draft of my novel.

You might say I’m in heaven.

Though by far my longest “time away,” this isn’t the only writing retreat I’ve created for myself this year. At least once a month my friend Jill and I make a date for three or four hours at her house or mine to devote to our writing, in May she invited me to her ranch for a glorious and productive three-day retreat. I also consider my monthly Saturday Series gatherings with a dozen or so other writers a retreat; I even include “retreat” in the title of the series, and certainly the twice-yearly, day-long writing marathons at The Ink Spot are a time-out-of-time, rowdy and rambunctious as they can sometimes be.

Fellow Retreater

To my mind, a writing retreat is the time I take out of my ordinary day-in and day-out routine, when I set everything aside and give myself over to my writing. It’s where I go when I remove myself from the ordinary and move into the extraordinary. So, in this sense, the hour-long Thursday Writers sessions and Tuesday Brown Bag group I participate in could be called mini-retreats. Even my daily writing practice can be turned into a retreat when I create the right container for it—that is, setting aside time, creating space (for me, that means lighting a candle) and entering the time and space with intention.

Much as I believe that the idea of a writing retreat will always include “getting away” (I expect secluded mountain cabins or private, distant seashores will forever remain in my writer’s mind’s eye), I also believe it’s important to create other, less extensive writing retreats that can refill and restore us, open us to creative expression and allow us to dip into the solitude we need. Consider this:

• that a writing retreat is not necessarily a place, but a concept.

• that the word retreat is both a noun and a verb.

• that time can be measured not just in length, but in depth.

• that the idea of being alone isn’t about being distant from people but not allowing others to intrude on your solitude.

When was the last time you gave yourself the gift of “getting away”?

*some of the material was previously published in my kit, The Writer’s Retreat Kit, a Guide for Creative Expression & Personal Exploration.