I’ve been running workshops and holding retreats for many years, and I’m excited to share my top 6 reasons a writing retreat could be just what you need to take your writing to the next level.
Part of what inspired me to create writing workshops and retreats was that I couldn’t find what I needed. Without a doubt, I learned and grew from every workshop and class I attended, but I was looking for smaller groups where we wrote more and talked less—so that’s what I designed.
My retreats in Tuscany are small (8-10), and I encourage my students to write like crazy, and they are usually amazed by the work they produce.
Are you wondering whether a writing retreat is the right next step? Here are some reasons that might help you decide.
1. You will leave the distractions behind
Getting away from the distractions of daily life is one of the prime benefits of attending a writing retreat. You are retreating from the demands of your everyday life—there are no meals to cook, no chores to do, no plans to make, no job to go to, and no one to answer to except yourself.
You already know how hard it can be to find time to write, and getting to your desk without being derailed by distractions (we all have a junk drawer that needs organizing or a dishwasher that needs unloading) is one of the biggest hurdles.
When you go on a retreat, distractions are minimized, and you can focus solely on your writing.
A Writer Within offers: A week-long writing retreat in a beautiful Tuscan villa where you will have “a room of your own,” and all your needs are taken care of. We’ve got it covered: transportation, entertainment, food and wine, peace and quiet, and unlimited inspiration. All you have to do is relax and reconnect to your creative flow.
2. You will clear your mind and find focus
Once you begin to relax, your mind will settle, allowing your writing to come into focus. In the space created by removing distractions, you can reconnect with the writer you are, the one buried under the demands of daily life back home.
Are you a multitasker? At a structured retreat, you will have only one “task” to focus on, and that is your writing—when the mind is fully engaged with one objective, connecting to the creative flow and writing fluidly and naturally is much easier.
A Writer Within offers: A safe and nurturing environment where you can begin to reconnect with the writer you are. Our chef will take care of your culinary needs, massages are available to relax your body, and the surrounding vistas will soothe your soul. In this fully supported and distraction-free environment, you’ll be amazed at your level of clarity, focus, and productivity.
3. You will improve your writing skills
Not all retreats offer focused instruction; some simply take care of your needs and leave your days open for personal writing. There might be a gathering at some point each day when participants can share their work and discuss the craft. This type of retreat is best if you have a project underway and know how to structure your time.
If you are looking for inspiration, instruction, and support, look for a retreat that offers structured writing sessions that include discussion of the craft, provide writing prompts, and give feedback. This type of retreat is best for anyone who wants to start a writing project, jumpstart a stalled project, deepen an understanding of the craft, improve writing skills, and explore the creative process.
A Writer Within offers: A week-long retreat with structured workshop sessions each morning where we explore plot, dialogue, characterization, imagery, and more. I aim to get you beyond your internal critic, into the creative flow, and your words onto the page. As you become curious about story ideas, inspirations, and blocks, you’ll discover and embrace your unique vision.
4. You will find inspiration
The search for inspiration is one of the prime reasons writers attend writing retreats. We all run out of inspiration at times. Perhaps you don’t know what to write about, don’t like anything you write, or don’t feel motivated—you aren’t necessarily blocked, just not inspired.
There’s nothing like a change of locale to get the juices flowing.
If you can travel—go for it! Not only will you experience a stimulating shift in perspective, but your new surroundings are also bound to be energizing.
Also, there’s nothing like being around a new group of people to activate the imagination, but make sure to find your tribe. Some retreats skew more toward younger writers, while others cater to an older crowd, and, of course, some are a mix of both. Look at the photos on the retreat website to see what the gang looks like, and don’t be afraid to ask specific questions during the intake process.
A Writer Within offers: My retreats are for women only. It’s empowering, if not magical, the way a group of women can break down barriers and explore with abandon. In the safe and supportive environment of like-minded women, you will find nothing between your words and the page except unlimited inspiration.
5. You will enjoy support and camaraderie
A writing retreat can be a fantastic place to find support, but as I’ve said above, you need to make the best match possible, considering gender and age. Everyone is there for the same reason, which creates a natural connection point, and the desire to support usually follows.
I’ve found that camaraderie flows naturally from the workshop sessions where the writers explore, share their work, and give supportive feedback. Most retreats integrate group meals and outings, which further helps create an ambiance of fellowship.
A Writer Within offers: Every evening, we gather before dinner for an aperitivo in the outdoor living room, and all our meals are enjoyed, family-style, in the villa dining room or on the terrace under the grape arbor. Over the week, I offer afternoon outings with professional guides, as well as plenty of private relaxation time. While some women are more naturally inclined to socialize than others, I’ve never had a group that didn’t gel, and often lasting friendships are forged.
6. You will receive individual attention
Private coaching can be invaluable in helping you find your voice, hone your ideas, and get your writing on track. However, most retreats, especially large ones, cannot accommodate individual sessions with the instructor. If a private consultation is important to you, then make sure to ask if this is included.
What AWW offers: This retreat includes a private consultation during the week to discuss your writing goals for the week. If you are working on a project (not required) or have sent work in advance of the retreat, this is when I will give you specific feedback. A second phone consultation is also included in the price and is typically scheduled for one month following the retreat. My coaching and editing services are available year-round.
I hope these six tips will help you find just the right retreat for your writing needs. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments box below.
Any fears I had in anticipation of joining this retreat in Tuscany were immediately assuaged by the warm welcome I received from this amazing group of women. Kathryn’s leadership created a sense of safety that supported us throughout the week. I highly recommend this retreat for the fun and innovative writing instruction, superb accommodations, and the perfect balance of work and relaxation.
Allison Parke, Hudson NY