Your Very Own Writer's Retreat!
With Missy Tippens
|Missy and hubby|
Missy, here. I just got back from a family beach vacation in beautiful Orange Beach, Alabama, and thought I would share, giving you a little taste of your very own beach getaway…
But first, I wanted to talk a little about writing retreats in general. I LOVE getting away to write and can be very productive in a different setting. I’ve taken several retreats to the mountains or the beach. All were arranged with writer friends/critique groups.
I asked a few friends who’ve taken part in writing retreats for input on what they did.
Janet Dean shared that several years ago her RWA chapter held daylong retreats. They had a session of critiquing, a lesson or two from someone who’d taken a class or had learned a technique they wanted to share. A group favorite “event” was when they wrote all of their pent-up frustrations about rejections on toilet paper, and then each writer read hers before tossing it. :) She said these retreats were simple and fun.
Sandra Leesmith told me that she’s been to several that were fantastic. They usually worked on their current WIP and the instructor and students all participated in revising. There was usually a focus, so revisions focused on that.
At one of the best retreats she attended they printed out a complete manuscript in the tiniest font possible so it ended up being only 30-40 pages. Then they highlighted all the action scenes in one color. Highlighted all the telling scenes in another. Then they all laid out their manuscripts on the floor and you could really SEE the holes and gaps where there was no action and too much telling.
Lindi Peterson is one of my critique partners and has been with me on retreats (her wonderful boss gave us the use of his beach house—well, more like luxury beach mansion!). She said, “I love sitting in a room of writers while they are working. It's very inspiring to me. There seems to be an energy in the room when this is happening.”
Some of the things Lindi and I both love on our retreats are that no one cooks. We usually stock up on groceries and just grab and eat whenever it suits each individual. Then we go out for a break at dinnertime.
Other things Lindi mentioned… Depending on the group you are with, there can be impromptu brainstorming which always comes in handy. When you take a break there's always something out-of-the-ordinary for you to do. For instance a walk on the beach or a mountain trail.
And the biggie: There is a pot of coffee at the ready at ALL TIMES.
Angie Breidenbach shared with me that she’s only done one writer's retreat up in the mountains of Montana. They had group meals specifically built around brainstorming. And they had set times for private or partner writing with critique partners. It was fairly free flow with the guideline that if someone needed time alone, they were to say so and everyone else would leave them be.
After dinner, they had group writing exercises to open up their imaginations.
Mary Connealy told me she’s been to two writer's retreats and they were quite different.
One was very structured, lots of brainstorming. They got to pick “teams”of four and they'd have a three-hour session. They'd each get about 45 minutes to brainstorm their idea. The food was provided and they also had time for worship with someone providing music.
The other was far more focused on writing. They'd spend hours every day sitting behind their computers writing. She said she got a LOT done. They'd have a worship time. Great food, with a cook involved. (I think I’m detecting a theme here!)
Mary said that particular retreat, which involved all historical inspirational writers, also included a woman coming in to show them Victorian clothes, and they took a tour. So if you have a retreat, you might want to consider a themed event.
So now…time for your very own beach retreat! I have three quick videos to share with you that I took from our condo balcony this past week. Be sure to turn up the volume on your computer. I wish there was some way you could just loop them over and over to enjoy that wonderful sound of the ocean...
First off, time to wake. Take some quiet time on the balcony with your coffee. Some time for a morning devotional. Then a little time to read. Enjoy the quiet before the beach fills up. Time to sit outside and write, listen to the waves crashing (perfect white noise while writing).
So you’ve worked through the morning. Now it’s time to take a break. Eat lunch. Maybe go for a swim or a walk on the beach before going back to your writing.
Now, later in the evening, time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished today. Time to relax. Have a nice dinner and celebrate your hard work. Before bed…quiet, just you and the lull of the water. Time to head to bed, to rest and prepare for another day of beach writing. (Apologies for any motion sickness from the tilt. :) I wanted you to see the moon.)
I hope you had a nice virtual beach retreat! Will you share with us your writing retreat experiences? What would be the perfect setup for you?