I recently came back from a week-long solo writing retreat courtesy of my Honeybee. I spent the week at a former plantation house on Abbington Farms in Maryland. I was surrounded by horses, geese, butterflies, and the beautiful sounds of nature. For 7 glorious days, I had the chance to relax, clear my mind, and write.
It ended up being quite a successful trip! I got a great deal accomplished, but I also learned things along the way. I'm so glad my Honeybee shipped me off, and I hope you'll consider taking a writing retreat of your own.
Read below to read about 9 tips for planning a successful writing retreat of your own!
1. Decide the length of your retreat. I was fortunate enough to be able to go away for an entire week, but that isn't feasible for everyone. Think about what length of time you can work into your schedule, even just 2 or 3 days, and plan around that time. You can get a lot accomplished in a couple of days!
2. Decide any goals other than writing. For me, my main goal was to focus on my novella, Reclamation, but I also had a major goal to relax, take time for myself, and breathe. I spent time every morning on the front porch watching the horses and drinking my coffee. Whatever your other goals might be, work them into your schedule.
3. Decide what type of writing retreat fits your goals. For me, I didn't want to see or talk to anyone. I wanted to spend the time solely by myself, enjoying the quiet, the sounds of nature, and the clacking of my typewriter. You might have a very different plan in mind! Do you want to go solo? Do you want to join with other writers in a collaboration? Maybe you'd like the opportunities of a larger city. If your WIP is based in a specific location or city, think about heading there for your retreat. Go where you'll be able to find the most inspiration.
4. Set realistic writing goals (daily & for length of retreat). This is something I didn't learn the importance of until I was there. Going into the retreat, I thought that since I wouldn't have the normal distractions from home, I would be able to finish my novella and get a few chapters done in my two other WIPs. I'm a slow writer. I'm not the author who can write 4, 5, or 6 thousand words a day. Although I did write about twice as many words per day than I usually do at home, it was nowhere near enough to get as much accomplished as I originally wanted.
5. Get to know the area. Research the location where you're taking your retreat and plan a few places where you'd like to spend your days writing. Libraries, coffee shops, bookstores, etc. Having this planned ahead of time will remove frantic searches while you're there and allow you to get writing!
6. Prep your writing tools. This seems pretty obvious, but it's a critical step. Make a list of everything you'll need to have a successful writing retreat. Laptop, cables, notebooks, pens, highlighters, etc. I didn't make a list, thought I packed my sticky notes when I didn't, and then spent 10 minutes frantically searching through all my bags. I ended up spending the week sticky note free and adopting a make-shift system.
7. Take time to relax. Whatever your main goals, we need to give our brains time to relax. Take some time every day to give yourself time to regroup and refresh. Go for a walk. Do some yoga. Grab a drink at a pub. Give yourself time for you!
8. Budget your time. You're there to write, but you don't want to burn yourself out. The hope is that when you return home, your energized from your retreat and continue with successful writing sessions at home. Plan the hours you'll write and stick to your schedule. Don't feel guilty for giving yourself time to relax and sleep!
9. Manage distractions. I made the mistake of thinking that since I didn't have dogs, an 8-year-old, and piles of chores staring me in the face, that I would have absolutely no distractions. Boy, was I wrong! My major distraction aside from staring at the horses? My phone! I had to put it on silent in another room so I didn't give in to temptation. Whatever your distractions, find a way to manage them so you can meet your goals.
Above all, enjoy your time and don't be too hard on yourself!
Have you gone on a writing retreat? Where did you go? What did you do beforehand to prepare? Is there anything you would have done differently? Share below! I'd love to hear about your experiences!