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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Creating Your Own Writing Retreat

With the rising cost of writer's retreats and the sadly decreasing frequency of them you may not have a chance to attend one to work on your craft. Don't let the cost of flying to some distant location or the retreat fees deter you. There is another way. Either with a few friends or even on your own, you can create your own writing retreat. Often we don't get our writing done just because we don't have the time or lack of distractions. Think of it as a vacation, make the time.

The key is to get out of your regular environment where you're tempted to do other things that clamor for your attention. If you can get away for a short time on a daily basis do so. But if you can only do it on a weekly or even monthly basis that's great too. Any time truly alone with your writing is quality time. Your local bookstore or coffee shop are perfect for short getaways.

If you have a few writing buddies you can create a more in depth retreat. Just last February my Scribe Sisters got together and worked on our novels together for a week. Though it would be a blast, you don't have to go to an exotic or expensive location to do this. Pick an inexpensive bed and breakfast, or meet at a friend's house that will be empty for the duration of the retreat. In our retreat my critique group and I worked on our inciting incident chapters, our plot point 1 chapters, our mid point chapters, plot point 2 chapters, and the climax of our novels. To see how we conducted our own retreat check out these posts from it: http://heathermccorkle.blogspot.com/2010/02/first-day-of-writers-workshop.html
http://heathermccorkle.blogspot.com/2010/02/plot-point-1-of-your-novel.html
http://heathermccorkle.blogspot.com/2010/02/mid-point-of-your-novel.html
http://heathermccorkle.blogspot.com/2010/02/your-novels-climax.html

The important thing to remember is to have a plan for working on your writing and to stick to it. Whether you're working alone or with a group, have an hour, or a week, its the commitment and the desire to improve that is important.

For a few books that you can use as guidelines for you own retreat workshoping check these out:
Writing The Breakout Novel by agent Donald Maass http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Writing-the-Breakout-Novel/Donald-Maass/e/9781582971827
The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-First-Five-Pages/Noah-Lukeman/e/9780743290937/?itm=1&usri=The+First+Five+Pages
The Fundamentals of Fiction by William Bernhardt: http://www.williambernhardt.com/dvds.php
And check out this great article on Do It Yourself Writing Retreats by Writer's Digest: http://writersdigest.com/article/Do-It-Yourself-Writing-Retreats/

13 comments:

  1. A very refreshing post! I love the idea of a do-it-yourself writer retreat. I would be happy in an old cottage by the lake. My fave place is actually really close-three hours away- so I may just have to look into doing my own retreat!

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  2. I love this idea. It's something I've been wanting to do for a while, but now you're making me think it's so much more attainable. Maybe it's time to pull out the calendar and plan something. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  3. Thanks ladies! I'm absolutely thrilled that I've inspired you both to plan your own writing retreats!

    Lindsey that cottage by the lake sounds like it would be the perfect place for a retreat!

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  4. thanks for the idea and encouragement!

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  5. Ah, I loved this post! My friend and I have done day-long writing retreats, but it would be fantastic to extend that into a week-long hiatus. Don't you wish you could put the real world on pause sometimes? ;)

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  6. You're very welcome Fida!

    And thanks Samantha. That's great to hear that you and a friend have already been doing your own retreats! A week makes a big difference. You should try it when can find time. Ah, yes, what I wouldn't do for a remote that could pause the world...

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  7. A writer's retreat would be great. I need to make some more local writer friends!

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  8. Unfortunately, none of my writer friends are local, or even in the same state! But we still manage to get together at conferences or retreats, either of our own making or organized ones. I do wish they lived closer, then we could get together more often. But I have my online friends like you ;)

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  9. Great advice, Heather. That retreat we ScribeSisters had was a revelation on how valuable creating your own retreat can be! The concentrated attention plus brainstorming was amazing.

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  10. I have done this at our beach house, but I will admit, while SOME writing did get done, we ate and drank and laughed far more than..we should have. ;o)

    Great blog.
    ~Lola

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  11. It was pretty amazing wasn't it Linda? My book is so much better for it. I'm still amazed at how much I learned.

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  12. Hi Lola, thanks for kind words and your follow! I've got to admit, my friends and I did our fair share of talking, eating, and sipping wine as well! We tried to keep on a schedule of reading aloud to each other, critiquing, then revising and repeat each day though. It turned out pretty amazing.

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  13. Thank you for the information! I saw this post back when you first published it, but didn't have time to come read. (Bad Krissi. Bad blogger.) Anyway, I've been curious about it ever since and finally have working internet at home... sooo cool! I wish I had more writer friends my age. My teenagers are a huge help and my editor is amazing, too... but it would be fun to share the passion with other writers in the same phase.

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