Recently, I went on a dreamy writing retreat with some of my bestest of friends. We wrote and laughed and ate and hiked and wrote some more.
It was brilliant.
Are you wishing you could go on a writing retreat?
Well… why not plan one yourself?
Here’s how you do it:
If you’re lucky, you know someone willing to lend their gorgeous mountain cabin to you for the weekend. But, if not, you can find lovely vacation rentals on sites like VRBO, Vacation Home Rentals, and Flipkey.
Ideally, you’ll find a beautiful, yet secluded, setting for your retreat. Our retreat had very (very!) limited internet service. Which was awesome! And probably one of the major contributors to our success.
Step #2: Pick who you want to run away with.
What kind of retreat do you want to have? One with a little bit of writing and a whole lot of socializing? A little bit of chatting and a whole load of writing? Maybe you want to do some critiquing of each others’ work or have readings where attendees have a chance to share what they’ve been working on.
Decide what kind of retreat you want to have and then invite writers who’re on the same page as you. (Pun intended.)
All the writers at our retreat were there to get as much writing done as possible. Sure, we enjoyed chatting here and there, but then we put our game faces back on and got busy.
Step #3: Plan meals.
It’s not going to much of a retreat if you have to cook all the meals. So, divvy up the work! We set up a schedule in Google Docs in the form of a table with slots for people to sign up for each of the meals. It was set up so it could be edited by anyone with the link.
We then signed up for different meals and wrote in what we planned to make. Two attendees helped with each of the meals. It worked really well! And the meals were fantastic. We had sweet pork salads, paninis, chicken and roasted asparagus, chocolate chip cookies and brownies and strawberries.
Step #4: Share retreat goals.
Giving everyone a chance to share what they’d like to accomplish at the writing retreat is a great way to not only give everyone something to shoot for, but also helps everyone encourage each other.
Over a yummy lunch of greasy burgers and fries, we shared what we’d like to accomplish during the retreat. And during the weekend we asked each other how we were coming along with our goals. I’d hoped to hammer out a new outline for my previously single POV middle grade fantasy which has now mutated into a dual POV. (And this new snarky POV is so crazy fun to write). It was nice being asked, “How’s the outline going?” And it was even better to be able to say, “The outline is done!”
Step #5: Decide to plan or not.
Maybe you’ll want to keep your retreat super casual where everyone simply finds a spot and writes. And every now and then you all take a break, eat some snacks, chat a bit, and go back to writing. This is what we did. We wrote and wrote and wrote and then someone would say, “Who’s up for a hike?” and we’d set aside our laptops for a little bit to stretch our legs and ooh and ahh over our splendid surroundings. Then we’d drift back to our cozy spots and start writing again. This worked really well for us.
But you could also set up a schedule with planned breaks, meal times, writing sprints, critiques, and/or readings. It’s totally up to you!
A writing retreat is a great opportunity to really dig into your work in progress and accomplish major writing goals. It’s also fantastic to be surrounded by people you can bounce ideas off of, people who get this crazy writing thing you do, people who are supportive and encouraging.
If you’ve always wanted to go on a writing retreat with friends, don’t be afraid to plan one yourself!
Erin Shakespear writes middle grade fantasy full of quirky creatures, magic, and strange adventures. With six kids, her days are full of quirky creatures, magic, strange adventures, and…loads of diapers. She also likes to dabble at photography, sewing, jewelry-making, and pretending she’s a grand artist.