Summer is just a few days away and that means, for a lot of people, vacation time. I know a lot of my friends well be going on Writing Retreats. Whether you're a working mother, a new college graduate, a middle-aged stock broker, or a retired widow. A writing retreat could be just what the doctor ordered, to start that novel, finish your chapbook of poetry, or revise the short story you've been meaning to send out all winter.
Writing Retreats are different from A Writing Conference, which offers classes and workshops. A Retreat is what it sounds like- a quiet place where you just sit somewhere and write without distractions. For many writers, a retreat is a gift to themselves, a way to connect to their vision. There are as many retreats around the world as there are writers, each specializing in what they think a writer would need to make them happy.
But like so many of us, money has been tight these past few years. So a retreat to like the Inn at the Oaks Writers’ Retreat in the beautiful area of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Best known for their many beaches, bike trails, salt ponds… and boasting a long history of inspiring writers. Yes, I want to go. Sadly, I haven’t the funds to spend on a lavish retreat. But may I offer an alternative to the high cost, shared meals, or at least the bathroom and kitchen space, with people you'd really rather avoid.
Why not plan your own stay-at-home writing retreat. I’ve done this myself and found that it’s a great way to get some meaningful writing done. Listen, all we really want as writers is to write. We want to get our writing done; the scenery is the least of our worries. So why not create your own writing retreat it’s simple.
What do retreats offer? Typically, they offer you lengthy stay away from your obligations so you can focus, and if you want to you can also surround yourself with other supportive folks, like teachers and/or fellow writers. Expensive travel, the time of that expensive traveling, and bed bugs. Why?
What you really want from a retreat is time away from your obligations so you can focus. So why not do that at home. If you can only manage to get away from everything for just a weekend, that's okay. You can get a lot done in two or three days, trust me.
Here are 6 tips for your very own Stay-at-Home Writing Retreat
1) Set reasonable goals for yourself
If you aren’t the writing all day kind of writer than don’t try to be on your retreat, on the other hand if you like to write in 1-hour stints, then perhaps during your retreat add two or three 1 hour stint in your routine.
2) Make it Fun
Go to a local café, diner or restaurant. If you prefer, if you only wrote before in your home office, why not try the living room, dining room table or the bedroom. Why not go shopping? You could check out the new coffee houses, cookie stores or bookstores, for a block of entertainment, in between your writing.
3) Use Time Limits
Get an egg timer and set writing limits on yourself. Setting time limits on writing sessions for different things like character sketches, journals or for writing a prose is a great way to manage your limited time. Using a timer ensures that you get up to walk around, take water breaks, move your location and check out your scenery.
4) Congratulate and award yourself
All work and no play makes for a dull story. So when you met your goals, like writing 500 words in your 1 hour stint or got that character down, reward yourself with whatever you like. Ice cream eaten on the back porch, or a piece of chocolate from that hidden place in your desk drawer, wherever it is, just make sure you congratulate yourself for your victories.
5) Plan in advance
Plan your Stay-at-Home Writer’s Retreat in advance so that you can rearrange your other commitments and plan for your success. You want to make reasonable, realistic goals for yourself. So you can congratulate and reward yourself: Cookies!
6) Tell your accountability-partners, supporters and fans
Who are those? They are the important supportive people in your life. You can also inform the social media network and groups you have worked so hard at developing. It can help, telling those people in your life what you’re planning on doing. Using your social media network to share your intention, progress and success, helps you to follow through. Social Peer Pressure and all of that,… but it also allows people to support you. That all important congratulation and they celebrate with you. Yea more Cookies!
So what have we learned? We don’t have to spend our time and money on a Writer’s Retreat somewhere, to have a quiet place to focus and work out those thorny issues in our plots. We can make our own retreat at home, by planning ahead, setting reasonable goals, using time limits, having accountability-partners, while having fun and most of all awarding ourselves.
With a Stay-at-Home Writing Retreat we can keep chipping away at the sagging middle in our story.
Copyright © 2013 Glynis Rankin