What Do You Want from a Writer’s Retreat?

I’d like to talk with you about retreats for writers. The immediate answer to any of these questions can easily be ‘well, it depends’, but overall, I’m curious to learn what type of writing retreat you’d benefit from most within the next 12 months.

View from kitchen table of Maine cabin for retreat - many seating options!

View from kitchen table of Maine cabin for retreat – many seating options!

When you hear “writer’s retreat” what time frame leaps to mind? A few hours, an overnight somewhere, two or three nights, a week or more…

  • If your answer is ‘a few hours’, there are “write ins” popping up now where space is reserved for up to half a day, and you can show up for as much of that time as you like — it’s more for camaraderie in being with other writers at the same time than anything else — I like doing these during November (National Novel Writing Month)

How do you feel when you think about a writer’s retreat? Calm, happy, anxious, dread, excited, bummed, inspired, scared…

  • my feelings can run the gamut depending on what type of project leaps to mind — most generally, though, thinking about being around other writers makes me smile and outweighs any anxiety — if I had to pick 1 word, it would be ‘bliss’

Where do you search for information on writer’s retreats? Social media, ShawGuides, writing groups/organizations you belong to, libraries, book stores, general Internet searches…

  • sometimes too many choices result in choosing to not even look around at options — my favorite type of writing retreat is one combined with an adventure vacation (like rafting down the Colorado River [did it], or spending a week at a Wyoming dude ranch [did it], or learning to cook in Italy [on my bucket list], or camping in New Zealand [not sure if that one exists yet!]

What is important to you in a retreat? time alone to write, a group setting, critiques/feedback, sharing your work, instruction, mentorship, everyone working in same or multiple genres…

  •  All of the above, please! When working on fiction, a mix of genres works well for me. But when I’m focused on non-fiction I prefer everyone to be the same — there’s something different for me when crafting imaginative stories than truth-based stories/articles/essays/manuscripts.
Water view seating for same Maine cabin getaway. Variety is good!

Water view seating for same Maine cabin getaway. Variety is good!

If you’re new to writing, is it a feature to have experienced writers in the group, or a deterrent? And likewise, if you’re multipublished, does a retreat with newbie writers attract you?

  • As long as expectations for the group are stated and agreed to up front, a mix of experience levels can benefit all attendees.

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on writer’s retreats.

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

18 thoughts on “What Do You Want from a Writer’s Retreat?

  1. When I hear “writers retreat” I think of a place where someone can be whenever (and as long) it is needed. No time frame. It makes me feel calm thinking such a place. It is important for me to be alone, to be in touch with myself. To regroup and meditate.

  2. The act of asking the questions really brought home to me that everyone has different reasons, motivations and feelings about retreats, and everyone wants to gain something different from them.

    I’ve always wanted to go on a writing retreat, just never quite got round to it. I know some people do them every year. One day, I’m going to do it, and then I will have my own set of answers to these questions.

  3. What an intriguing muse,…I have to write back.
    Time frame? Every evening after work, or every morning for the rest of my life!
    How do I feel? Relaxed and renewed! Then, exited!
    What’s important? Quiet, solace…the whisper of the morning on the water. I’ll need at least 30′ of main deck with 8′ of beam, some air conditioning just to take the moisture out of the air. And wherever that boat or yacht is will be just fine with me. And if there are others in the marina or anchorage to share the work with, sharing the writings over rum and wine in the late evenings would be the capstone.

  4. Writer’s retreat are a personal thing. I am quite simple.

    I need peace, quiet, privacy, fresh coffee and a comfortable place to sit. Good music brings you closer to the muses and writing is enjoyable.

  5. Pingback: Serendipitous questions… | Living as a writer for 365 days

  6. I do fancy a writing retreat. I mostly imagine it as a cabin in the woods, quiet, with beautiful scenery. Not so much an event with other people and pressure, though that could be fun too in a different way.

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