I’ve been leading retreats including writing retreats for nearly 30 years. I even wrote a book about how to create your own retreats, The Woman’s Retreat Book–in fact, that was the book that got me on Oprah.😏
Why do I believe in retreats so much?
Because the shape of a retreat signals to your brain “This is different. This matters.” It’s an archetypal shape that activates relaxation, insight, and connection as few things do.
The power of retreating together is even more supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
This is why I lead a monthly virtual writing retreat for a small group of writers who want someone to create the space for them to go deep, and offer them writing warm-ups, trickster prompts and craft insights that tickle and coax fresh astonishing words onto your page. Join us in June and July and be sure your writing gets attention this summer!
What can a writing retreat give you? You can:
- Start a project and gain real momentum
- See the whole scope of a project (which can be hard to do when you’ve been writing in small blocks of time)
- Quiet your mind and nervous system so you can hear what you think and know (we do lots of this in my monthly virtual writing retreats)
- Increase your concentration and make associations you could never connect
- Clarify your ideas and stories
- Take yourself and your desires to heart
A writing retreat can do all this and more. Holy moly magic macaroni.
How might you prepare for a writing retreat with me or on your own?
Try these journaling prompts:
- What I want in a writing retreat…
- The supplies I will need…
- My intention for my retreat is…
- I want to open my retreat by… (a little ritual goes a long way)
- The ways I will stay in liminal space listening to my writing wisdom….
- When will I retreat? For how long? (Short retreats can be amazing too, so don’t wait for a big swath of time. This is why my monthly virtual writing retreats are a half-day — you can set aside that much time!)
A few more pointers:
If you can get away, consider what kind of place would best support you. Get clear on where would support your best writing.
If you can’t get away, what kind of space could you borrow or create at home that would fill this need?
Gather supplies. Don’t use your writing retreat time to find your writing or to gather your paper for a cluster map. Do this as a way to prepare and honor your time.
Prime the pump. Do not – I repeat, do not! – go on a writing retreat having not written or even having not thought about your project for weeks or longer. This is a total set-up for frustration. Writer’s block is usually “I don’t know what to write” or “I don’t know enough to write this yet” and “I don’t have faith in myself to write this well enough.” You can address all of these potential blocks by preparing ahead of time. Write for fifteen minutes a day and increase by one minute each day. Read material in your field and make notes before bed. Make a bullet-point outline for each chapter. If writing fiction, do the first few exercises in Story Genius or Save the Cat Writes a Novel.
Or come to one of my monthly retreats and we will prime the pump together so you flow right into writing. All genres welcome.
Build in outdoor time and ways to move. The body needs to move to think. Make sure your writing retreat includes time for dance, yoga, walking, running, and/or rolling around on the floor moaning.
What will satisfy you? This is the question I ask people at my retreats to reflect on before we start and then again when we end. I tell them satisfaction is not about a particular outcome – finishing a draft, writing brilliantly – because you can’t guarantee an outcome. But what you can guarantee is that you show up for so many hours without multitasking. Or you that you give yourself pleasurable breaks. Or that if the Critic gets loud and nasty, practice self-compassion and active imagination. Or that you move your body. Focus on what is enough for you.
I hope you create a wonderful writing retreat for yourself soon or come to one with me!
Want to get your bother on starting now?
Read the first chapter from my new book for a jolt of fresh perspective and possibility, and a radical reframe on what to do when you are feeling lost, blah, unmotivated, or burned out, in any area of your life or for any reason — even success!