By Chris Pepple, Writer-At-Large, Southern Writers Magazine
There are times when we need a change of pace in order to tackle our next writing challenge. Maybe we are starting a new book or a new chapter of one we are working on. Maybe we need to edit the book we just wrote or work on some new marketing approaches. The conference we went to was helpful and gave us some great ideas to go forward, but we just don’t seem to be able to focus and come up with some fresh thoughts.
If this seems familiar to you, maybe what you need is a retreat instead of a conference. What’s the difference? A conference is designed to teach and share writing tips, to help you collaborate with others, to allow you to network, and to bring you together with the writing community. A retreat is a time to allow you to take all that you know and use it.
A retreat can last as long as you need it (or can afford for it to). You can take a weekend away from your normal writing place and get away to start the next phase of your work. When you return, hopefully, you can keep the new work going. If you can stay away longer, take a week or two retreat and try to finish or get a good start on the next phase of your project. Get several chapters written or edited…finish building or updating your website…sketch out a full outline for your next book…come up with a marketing list and an email list for the news of your book launch. Brainstorm on the retreat.
Tips for a successful writer’s retreat:
¨ Keep it within your budget. You can’t work well if you are worried about finances. If finances are tight, ask a friend if you can use their cabin. Find an inexpensive state park room overlooking a lake.
¨ Don’t bring anyone along. You need this time to think and set your own pace. If you are taking your retreat in area with friends nearby, you can make a last-minute plan with them if you need a break, but don’t promise anything.
¨ Don’t set a schedule. Work at night if you need to or wake up with the sunrise and nap when you need a break. This time is for you to brainstorm, research, or write. Work when you feel most prepared.
¨ Visit a place where you can have alone time outside if you need inspiration. Take hikes or walk by a lake. Sit on a quiet beach. Part of this retreat is for you to be refreshed so the ideas flow again.
¨ Check to see where Wi-Fi is available. You may not need it often, but it’s frustrating to not have it at all if you are planning to research something. However, be sure you keep you phone and other devices off as much as possible. Distractions won’t help you get work done.