There’s so much I could write about going on a writers’ retreat. These are five of the many aspects I found hugely beneficial when I attended a retreat run by Natasha Lester in the beautiful south west of Western Australia recently.
1. Mixing with like-minded people creates a sense of community
It is so affirming to mix with people who ‘get’ that you are a ‘writer’. I still recall the excitement when a participant discovered how to start writing her story. What stays with me is seeing the light in her eyes, her smiles and her sense of wonder in that moment of realization – ‘I can do this’. Knowing others are succeeding in the early stages of their journey fosters hope in my own.
2. Building knowledge
Adding to my own knowledge bank and practicing sound teaching advice is probably the most obvious reason to attend a retreat. It helps remove those boulder like mental blocks that loom up all too often. Each session was jam packed with solid advice on a broad range of topics – voice, creating characters, emotional scenes, story concepts, atmosphere, structure, redrafting and writing prompts. (Do keep an eye out for future posts in which I’ll discuss aspects of the topics covered.) I’m looking forward to integrating what I learnt into my current work in progress. Learning from someone who has not forgotten what it’s like to be an aspiring writer was invaluable.
3. Preparing beforehand
‘Prior preparation prevents poor performance.’ (Source unknown). I considered it essential to have my current work in progress at a stage ready for reworking post the workshops. Doing this groundwork is essential because my subconscious mind is ready to accept ideas that reshape my writing.
4. Consultations with the presenting author
How often do we get a window of time to talk directly with an author? I found the feedback on my manuscript and having my burning questions answered very helpful. For example, I now know I need to get out of my characters’ heads! Both the formal and the informal opportunities were valuable.
5. Reflecting after the retreat
Needless to say after two full days with several sessions each day I have a stack of notes spurring me on. Learning from a successful author who hasn’t forgotten what it’s like to be an aspiring author meant each aspect was appropriately targeted to the audience. There’s an abundance of writing advice in my notes and as I seek to apply the knowledge to my own writing I know the author is by my side cheering me on.
It would be wonderful if all of the above seeped into my writing by osmosis, but there is no magic wand! That’s why attending a retreat is worth every dollar invested. There’s so much one learns. In a play on words, I am given a treat each time I slip open my notes and apply an aspect that was shared. I am re-treated.
When do you plan on re-treating yourself? Of the many opportunities available, here’s five writer’s retreats to consider. I can only vouch for the first one, so please do your homework and check out if it’s right for you.
http://www.natashalester.com.au/ Contact Natasha for her next retreat. Her first one sold out quickly!
http://www.pariswritersretreat.com/ The Paris Writer’s Retreat is held twice a year May 29 – June 2, 2017 and Sept. 4 – 8, 2017. There’s an option to join their 12-week online Book Development Master Class.
http://www.pinkpangea.com/retreats/ for women who love to travel Pink Pangea International Writing, Hiking, & Yoga Retreats are held around the world in Venice, Tel Aviv, Barcelona, Costa Rica,
http://www.womenreadingaloud.org/greece-retreat.html Greece Writer’s Retreat, June 14th – June 23rd, 2017.
http://wintergetaway.com/ January 12-15, 2018, Atlantic City.
Do keep an eye out for future posts. I’ll be discussing aspects of voice, creating characters, emotional scenes, story concepts, creating atmosphere, structuring writing, redrafting and writing prompts.