So, you’ve decided that you need a bit of a break. We all do, at times. And a writing retreat seems just the thing for refocusing and relaxing, doesn’t it? But what kind of writing retreat? And where?
There are bound to be several options within a reasonable distance of your home, unless you live in a particularly remote area. All you have to do is Google “writing retreat” and your general location and there are probably several nearby.
Some retreats are very basic, offering only a simple space for people to use as they get away from their daily lives. These retreats have no formal meetings, workshops, or events. Some retreats, however, are meticulously structured . . . far more like mini-conferences, with top-notch speakers and every moment of the day accounted for. Most, however, fall somewhere between those two.
Deciding on which kind of retreat would serve you best is important. You want to return from your time away refreshed, rejuvenated, and encouraged. So choose carefully.
The following tips will help you make the best decision possible:
- This may sound basic, but pay attention to when a retreat is held. Lake Tahoe is beautiful, but if you don’t like driving in snow, a January retreat isn’t probably for you. If you burn, or melt, in the heat, a summer retreat in Death Valley might not be ideal. Likewise, if you have kids in spring sports, getting away during that hectic season might be difficult. So make sure the retreat is at a time when you can most benefit from it: away from deadlines or distractions, and weather or driving conditions which could be a problem.
- Price. One of the first things you’ll notice when looking at retreat options is the cost. From bare-bones to high-end, you can spend anything from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Be careful, however, as retreats aren’t always upfront. They may claim to be only “$300,” but then you’ll notice important things like lodging and food aren’t included. Be sure about the real cost before committing, including travel costs, lodging, meals, the retreat itself, and any crucial add-ons. No sense in going if you’ll be worried about paying for it the whole time.
- Distance. Retreats typically last for only 2-3 days, though some go 4-5. If your choice is on the shorter end, you might want to condense your search area. No sense in arriving late and leaving early due to a huge drive.
- Focus. This is, perhaps, the most important consideration. You may have found a nearby retreat, at the perfect time and price. But what if their writing emphasis or world-view is markedly different than yours? Can you still benefit from a retreat populated by writers of erotic fiction if you write devotionals? Probably not. Choosing either a genre-specific retreat (YA, mystery, speculative fiction, etc.) or a world-view specific retreat, like one that emphasizes Christian values, might suit you best.
- Structure. Retreats can be vastly different. Some offer nothing more than quiet spaces for personal writing. Others are highly structured and collaborative. If you cringe at the thought of tip-toeing through introverted writers tucked into various corners, or are exhausted at the thought of interactive activities from 6:00 am to midnight, look closely at each retreat’s schedule and find one that suits your personality and goals.
If you carefully consider these points as you look for the perfect retreat, you’ll probably get rest, learn craft, meet like-minded writers, re-energize your writing, and end the retreat looking forward to the next time it’s offered.
Robynne Elizabeth Miller is a writer/speaker/writing coach who serves as the Director of Leadership for Inspire Christian Writers and leads two critique groups.
She’s written eight books, with The Three Faces of Nellie and Nonfiction, Memoir, or Fiction? Dissecting the Works of Laura Ingalls Wilder among her latest.
SPECIAL LAKE TAHOE RETREAT DEAL FOR INSPIRE MEMBERS: Robynne E. Miller and Jane S. Daly will be hosting their first Writers’ Retreat in Lake Tahoe.
Though this event is not sponsored by Inspire Christian Writers, we’re happy to announce that Robynne and Jane are offering Inspire members a significant discount.
Due to the luxury venue, space for this retreat is limited. Pre-registration is open to Inspire members, who were sent a special invitation with more details and a coupon code via email.
For questions or to register, please contact Robynne or Jane directly through the email address included in your private member invitation.