It started out as just an idea to go stay in a cabin in the mountains or at the lake to get some writing done. From there, it evolved into our writing retreat. My two friends and I always talked about staying in a place to do this, but it had just been talk for a long time. One night, we decided to browse for places to stay and we found a treehouse. What was more inspiring for us than a treehouse that looked out over a gorgeous lake? A few weeks later, we booked it.
It was a few months ahead, so we had plenty of time to plan how we wanted to do it. Our retreat would be four nights long. What did we want to accomplish? What did we want to bring? There were a lot of questions.
The key points that we stuck with was that it needed to be relaxing, cut off from the stress of the world, but we still needed to progress in writing and reading.
The first thing we did was create a list of what we would need, you know, the basics from food and drink to clothes and all of that. We thought about what we typically like when writing; coffee, hot cocoa, tea, snacks, all those goodies. We allowed items on the list that we might not always let ourselves be frivolous with such as all those candies, s’mores, and chips. Then, once all of the basics were figured out, we thought about it from the angle of each of us as writers. These lists were done individually, but they overlapped for the most part.
-1-2 Novels that I would like to read
-1-3 Reference/Writing books I think I might refer to or read parts of
-My writing binder
-Characters Sheets (I took this time to print out any useful pages from the internet, such as the wheel of words)
-Pens/Colored Pens, etc
Again, all of our lists varied depending on what we liked to use, and some things we didn’t end up needing in the end, but it was nice to have it.
I was already working on a novel, so I had the idea that I would need. One friend was solidifying her idea, and another started from ground zero to create her plot and characters in order to be prepared for the retreat.
When we arrived, we got settled in and explored, made food, and unpacked. Then it was the fun part. We could do anything we wanted. The trick for us was not to schedule what we were going to do every minute of the day, but to go with what we felt like doing in between relaxing.
What we found was that you automatically fall into a routine and your mind opens up for the magic and inspiration that can sometimes be drowned out by everyday life. I grew to the point that I was waking up early, would eat something light and sit on the porch with tea or coffee. Sometimes I would write, sometimes I would read or plot. It was beautiful to have the time to do this and not be rushed around or to be thinking about the chores that needed to be done around the house. If you can find a place with a porch or screened in porch, this was my favorite feature. I wrote out there a lot, stared into the woods or off to the river as I thought, and chatted about writing and characters with my friends.
Books were read, words were written, memories were made. One night there was a storm, so we changed it up a bit. I wrote out on the porch with a blanket as the rain fell gently on the treetops. When the thunder picked up we each settled down under blankets and worked inside between friendly talk.
Sometimes we would sit in a circle with a list of things we were stuck on and talk things out. We could each offer suggestions on how to help or direct them to sections in books that could be beneficial. There was joking and laughing, and of course lots of off task times, but progress was made and the joy of writing came out in this retreat.
Our goal was to get something written and something read. That’s a loose goal, but of course we wanted to get as much read as we could and as much written as we could. The trick is in the loose goal though, because you don’t want to cause more stress to reach such and such word limit while you are trying to relax. Let it come naturally, and you’ll get more done than you expect.
Everyone agreed that it was something we needed to do every year!
So, I’d love to hear about where you’ve been for a retreat or where you would like to go! If you’re ever near Kentucky or Tennessee, try out Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, or Dale Hollow Lake!
P.S. You can use the HomeAway app to find great places to stay!