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  • Jill K. Sayre

A Writer's Retreat~What it Takes


I am a very blessed person to have loyal writing partners. We have been writing together since 2010, which is rare. We have formed a very special and elite writers' salon called "The Little Read Writing Hood" (www.thelittlereadwritinghood.com). We met in the Creative Writing department at S.M.U. and decided to hold regular bi-monthly meetings. It has planted a fertile ground for creativity and we have stretched ourselves further and further every year. We usually meet over a glass (or two) of wine and delicious food. Often, we assign prompts to write from which we do 'in class' and for 'homework' as well. Sometimes the prompt is a phrase, and sometimes it's an object. And yet other times, it's a 'fieldtrip', usually to a park, restaurant, museum~ or a trolley ride downtown. Being around people inspires us; we notice unique details that turn into a story. Because of how inspired we got about these trips outside of our regular meetings, we decided to go on a retreat, and after never quite getting our acts together, we finally embarked on an amazing adventure!

But before we left, I researched suggestions from other writers on how to have a great writer's retreat and found only a couple of ideas. So, using my experience, I will share what I learned. We went on an ADVENTUROUS retreat as opposed to an IMMERSED IN WRITING retreat. Both are great for your writing group.

BEFORE YOU LEAVE:

*Get as many writers on-board as possible. Four out of five of us went and it was super important to have the regular support group there! It is a bonding time for everyone and it will deepen your connection.

*Talk about expectations. There were so many places I wanted to share with my fellow writers since we were going to my childhood vacation home. It was located in the woods of upper Pennsylvania so I told everyone to expect to drive quite a bit. We also took day trips to other towns. This was not an immerse yourself in writing retreat, although the next we plan will be. This was an enrichment-experience type retreat.

*Set goals. Although everyone may have different ones, it doesn't mean you can't come together and assist each other to meet them. We wrote in the car, during free time, and as a group with certain assignments in mind.

*Plan ahead. We had also arranged to meet up with New York Times Best Selling author Michael Capuzzo. We had met him at a conference and found out he lived near where we were staying.

We had little to no Wifi, so we relied on the old fashioned pen and paper.

*Take lots of notes. I personally has a difficult time writing complete pieces, but I took a copious amount of notes which I have since elaborated on and/or used to create new works. My co-writers did the same. Some may find Morning Pages (from The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron) helpful to dust out the cobwebs.

*Make time to share ideas. Ross, our only male member (lucky boy!) set up a blog on WordPress so we could write our story and submit them there. We also sat together as often as possible and read what we wrote. I also spent much of the plane ride home reading and making suggestions on fellow writers' work.

*Meet people. You cannot be a writer just by observing. Talking to people and interacting with strangers will give you new and special insight. It will not only give you writing inspiration after speaking with locals, but it enriches your life.

"In the poem Ulysses, Alfred Lord Tennyson said, "I am a part of all that I have met." This implies that we are constantly reshaping our personality on the basis of our experiences. Some experiences are strong enough to leave a deep impression. The ones that are insignificant affect us on a subconscious level and leave subtle impressions." (by Simran Khurana, http://quotations.about.com/b/2009/12/01/tennyson-muses-i-am-a-part-of-all-that-i-have-met.htm)

I agree! And these deep or subtle impressions will make you a better writer! Good luck with your writers' retreat and let me know if you have any questions or comments.


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 Writer of Magical Realism for Middle Grade and Young Adult Readers

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© 2020 by Jill K. Sayre