Life is full of distractions, from electronic devices and kids, to housework and running errands. Oh yes, and there’s that job, the one that robs you of your time 40+ hours a week. You try to write at home in the evenings and on the weekends, but you’re probably exhausted from the work week and find it hard to focus. How often are you interrupted during your writing time? Do you check your email or texts when you hear the chimes? Do you forage in the kitchen, clean the toilet or walk the dog to avoid writing? Do the kids or spouse make noise and want to talk to you while you’re trying to work?
Those little interruptions add up big-time, even if they’re only for a minute or two, because they disrupt your flow of ideas and energy. Family can’t understand the writing process and neither can friends. The only people who truly understand are other writers, but we writers tend to be solitary creatures. We write in our bubbles, doubt our abilities, celebrate our brilliance and then collapse in a heap when we realize how stuck we are – all alone. We long for a breakthrough, for a chance to push our writing careers ahead, to be recognized by our peers and appreciated by our family and friends for who we really are: writers. How can we experience that breakthrough if we continue in the same pattern day after day, week after week?
Maybe a writers’ retreat would help. Here are six benefits of attending a writers’ retreat:
A writers’ retreat will get you away from the noise and distractions. Do you feel blocked, short on ideas, restless or frustrated? A change of environment at a retreat can help you function in a more relaxed, focused state that in turn can stimulate ideas. It will allow you to immerse yourself totally in your writing and find the focus you’ve longed for. Writers’ retreats, however, offer a whole lot more than writing time.
The best writers’ retreats provide feedback and guidance from expert writing coaches. A coach will help you problem-solve, hold your hand when necessary and shed light on habits that are holding you back. A good writers’ retreat should give you lots of one-on-one time with the writing coach and ample opportunity to ask questions and converse about your writing project and process.
The retreat should also provide workshops or seminars to help you develop your skills, encourage you to think about your work in a more critical (i.e., constructive) way and build your self-confidence. These workshops should challenge you to work at a higher level and push you out of that rut you’ve been in for so long.
It’s important to have time to socialize and bond with a community of like-minded people at your retreat. The writers you meet at a retreat can become a support system for you, not just during the retreat, but after you return home. It’s an opportunity to share ideas and bounce new ones off one another in a group or one-on-one to stimulate thought and open up the narrow channel you may have gotten stuck in.
A writers’ retreat should help writers step out of their comfort zone and immerse them in unfamiliar situations or surroundings. With new experiences, you gain new insight. The best writers’ retreats provide excursions that expose the participant to a foreign community, activity or atmosphere that helps them learn about other cultures, practices and the world around them. This experience not only provides new stories for us to tell, it helps us explore new territories in our writing and creative process to find other ways in which to express those stories.
Most important of all, a writers’ retreat should inspire. It should help writers find the joy in writing that is already there but buried deep inside. As writers, we need to allow ourselves to revel in our development and relish the journey.
Diana Osberg is a writer, adventurer and founder of Mia Terra Tours & Retreats, providing unique adventures to inspire writers, artists and creative souls. “Charge up your mobile devices, pack a light suitcase and come along on an adventure that will change your life.”