Monday, November 7, 2016

8 Reasons Why You Should Go On A Writing Retreat

By Jessica A. Walsh

Yesterday concluded yet another incredibly productive South Jersey Writers Group retreat! The company was like-minded and lovely, the location mere blocks from the Ocean City beach was inspiring, the rental was comfortable, the food was delicious, and best of all, the words flowed from our finger tips. If you've never gone on a writing retreat and remain on the fence, then keep reading because following are eight reasons you need to go!

From left to right: Dawn Byrne, Jennifer Eaton, Lisen Minetti, Sarah Hawkins Miduski, Erika Timar, Amy Hollinger

1. No Distractions & plenty of quiet

Writing is difficult at home due to the incredible number of distractions! The dog, the kids, the piles of laundry, the clean dishwasher that needs to be emptied, the ringing phone, and on and on and on. Distractions are literally endless when you're home. Some writers block or a challenging scene and before you know it you think your time may be better spent cleaning out the closets. But away on writing retreat all the distractions of home are eliminated and there is peace and quiet to work.

2. People cook for you

We share cooking responsibilities on retreat so for all but the meal you prepare, you literally get to work until someone announces food is ready. For those of us who do all the cooking at home, this is an extra special treat. Which brings me to my next point...

3. EXCELLENT snacking

Writers need fuel, so everyone brings snacks, which results in a fabulous variety. Chocolate covered raisins and almonds, fruit, veggies, salted caramel apple smores dip, popcorn, veggie stix, cheese puffs, chips, chocolate croissants... you name it. It keeps our energy up and I don't know about you, but aids my concentration.

4. Get to know & celebrate your fellow writers
We don't talk much, except during meal time, but when you basically live with people for a long weekend, you get to know them better and that is a real bonus. Friendships are made and strengthened at retreat and the time with like-minded people is beneficial to everyone. There are also some great laughs and sharing of personal news and accomplishments that are met by plenty of cheers.

The truth is that we all want one another to succeed. Being with people who do what you do, and want the same things as you do tend to understand you. And time with people who understand why you do what you do is always refreshing and motivating.

5. Get away

Vermont, Nockamixon State Park, Ocean City, NJ.... regardless of where we retreat, we get to get away and have a new experience. Most everyone takes walks on retreat and it's a special treat to walk somewhere other than your own neighborhood. I know many of us really enjoyed our November walks on the beach this past weekend.

Ocean City beach in November
6. Positive peer pressure to keep butt in chair

When everyone's diligently working, there's a level of motivational energy and pressure to do the same. Again, there are no distractions and the sole purpose for being there is to write. That pressure is beneficial for some serious productivity.

7. Inexpensive way to go on writing retreat

Many writers go away to be more productive, but when going it alone, it can get pricey! When going on retreat, all the costs are shared. The eight of us stayed for three days in a lovely apartment blocks from the beach for less that $60 per person plus the cost of snacks and one meal.

8. Time for ideas to percolate

Even if you're the most disciplined writer, chances are you work for a few hours then move on to something else. But when getting away and having multiple days to focus solely on writing, there is plenty of time for new ideas or solutions to problems to percolate.

Thanks to this weekend's retreat I restructured the entire global story of my work in progress, wrote 9,000 words, and made great progress on my outline. None of this would have happened had I not gone away and spent 25 hours sitting at a table surrounded by wonderful like-minded women, with absolutely nothing for any of us to to do but WORK.