I had the privilege to attend a writer’s retreat earlier this month with a smashing group of writers. In our midst, we had a middle-grade writer, horror, urban fantasy, space opera, historical fantasy (that’s me!), epic fantasy, and alternate world stuff that was delicious.
And we all consider ourselves science fiction- fantasy authors.
I admit, I am not the most disciplined of writers. I write until my brain cries out for mercy, then I stop. At this retreat, my brain begged for mercy, but we kept going…and going… and going.
If you plan to host/ attend a writers retreat, a few gentle reminders that I found made the difference between a pleasurable experience and not.
1. Pick a place that is big enough- and by big enough, I mean enough sleeping/bathroom/ private area space. Writers are introverted people, and we all need a bit of privacy to recharge the creative spark.
2. Designate someone to cook- we had a designated cook (waves at Chef Judy), and that was her job. It worked well, but if you are not lucky enough to have a Chef Judy, then make a schedule and stick to it. Nothing is worse than being surrounded by cranky hungry people who think up inventive ways to “deal with problems” every day:)
3. Four to Five days is plenty- More than that, and the peeps get cranky. Less than that, and perhaps you cannot get through a curriculum.
4. Have a leader/ moderator with a structured plan- we had a local author with a syllabus, we all had copies emailed to us in advance, and the requirements and expectations were clearly communicated well in advance. No surprises.
5. Everyone needs to share- share feelings, share their work, share their comfort or discomfort with a topic or story. These things only work if everyone goes all in creatively. It is a buzz kill when someone who has not put themselves out there with their own work starts ripping into another’s writings. Not cool.
6. Everyone needs to be roughly at the same place- creatively, and writing career. A person with ten published books is in a different place on their journey that someone who is struggling to finish a rough draft. I think it was helpful having all sci-fi fantasy authors there, cause we know and understand the conventions of the genre, but I think with a good, open-minded or well-read group, you could mix genres.
7. Make a group T-shirt. Great for publicity pics later on, when everyone has work “out there.” I am totally gonna pull this out when all my Roaring Writer peeps are published:)
8. Have fun. After all, it’s a bunch of people sitting around writing make-believe stories.
Until next time-