Gotta love the extras, the unexpected benefits, and all the lagniappe life brings. When it comes to a group writers retreat, at signup, you expect to learn and you expect to write. That’s why most choose to participate. But some of the greatest benefits of a writers retreat are unadvertised and often not part of the plan at all.
Here are three unexpected, but completely amazing benefits of participating in a group writers retreat.
1. The Experience
Now that I find myself in the retreat business, I also recently found myself watching a webinar taught by a woman who leads them for a living. This particular talk was about how to organize and sell retreats, so of course I was taking notes. And in addition to the expected tips on building a list and using Facebook, she said something that I’ve been rolling around in my mind ever since.
The speaker, Susan Hyatt, was talking about planning down-time so retreat participants can explore and experience the location. This is important, she explained, because the retreat location itself contributes to what her clients learn. In other words, the location is also a teacher. You learn just from being there. On a retreat, you see another culture, eat different foods, and get to exist in another part of the world, even just for a few days. And these experiences change you.
Hearing that reminded me of how much my own experiences have shaped me as a writer. When I was in graduate school, because it was a low-residency program, I spent most of my time doing the schoolwork at home. But twice a year I traveled to the school or teacher’s location for residencies that were a lot like retreats. We got together and focused on writing. But I still remember riding the subway in New York (a big deal for a small-town girl like me) and the way Baltimore feels in August because being there was part of it.
2. The Memories
The writing days spent at your desk at home will blur together and fade. But the writing days spent on a writers retreat will be different, more memorable.
Not only will the experience of a writers retreat change you (as any experience does), but you’ll have the memories of those experiences forever. The feeling of being on a boat in the middle of the ocean, the way the sunset looks over the Bahamas, the awkwardness of the cruise cabin—you’ll always remember. And those memories will forever be linked to your writing and the investment you made in it.
3. The Community
Writing is a solitary endeavor. Not only do we sit at our computers and work alone, but we also, for the most part, face all the little struggles that go along with writing on our own or with the help of the internet, which we access, again, all alone.
Going on a writers retreat with a group of other writers lets you talk about the little struggles and the big ones with people who face the same. You get to geek out over turns of phrase with people who get it. And you can bounce your ideas off people who understand what you’re asking. Ideally, this community you gain while on your writers retreat will go home with you, so you can access it any time you need it.
Your Writers Retreat Experience
Participating in a group writing retreat is an investment in your writing skills. But it’s also an investment in your writing life, which is something that every writer, at one time or another, deserves to make.
If you’re interested in writing a memoir or narrative nonfiction book, then I want to tell you about my upcoming Write Your Book Workshop & Cruise. When you register for this workshop, you’ll spend four days learning how to improve your creative writing and write a book-length story about your life—while experiencing the beautiful Bahamas. (Ahhh…I can’t wait.) Click here to get all the details and register now.