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How To Gift Yourself a Weekend Writer's Retreat

Writer writing with typewriter and candles

As much as I'm always advocating for writer's to adopt a doable, daily writing practice, knowing that it's the only real way to ensure you are always moving forward, no matter how busy life gets. There are definitely times when you really need to give yourself the gift of total immersion and focus, for an extended period of time, in order to make an effective leap in understanding with your story. To that end, there's nothing better than treating yourself to a weekend writer's retreat.

Here are my suggestions for how to make the most of that gift to yourself:

Step One - Decide that you (and your story) are worth a weekend writing retreat.

  • Storytelling is scientifically proven to be good for you, so really a writing retreat is necessary self care.

Step Two - Choose a date and place.

  • Literally pick a time in the not-too-distant future, put it on the calendar, and guard that time like it is precious. Because it is.

  • Decide where you want to retreat. Airbnb in the mountains? Staycation? If you stay home, consider making some adjustments or decorations to a certain area to make it feel shiny and new.

Step Three - Prep by clearing out any focus-pulling life clutter.

  • Take a good hard look at your to-do list/obligations and make conscious choices: what needs to be completed before the retreat, what can genuinely wait until after. You'll know it's something that can wait, if you can put it on the "later" list and not give it another thought. If you suspect it will pull on you, then get it done before hand and/or delegate it.

Step Four - Declare yourself unavailable.

  • This is a perfect time to give yourself a digital detox. Let everyone important to you know that you will not be available. Turn off your phone (if you can). Set those email autoresponders. Back away from the social media feeds. Give yourself the gift of not having to think of, or attend to, anything but your creative process, for a whole weekend, without the least bit of guilt.

Step Five - Get clear on what sort of creative breakthrough you're looking to allow.

  • Are you hoping to use the time to find your next story? Get clear on the overall theme/purpose? Uncover the emotional arc of your Protagonist? Get inside the mind to create a multi-layered Antagonist? Finally nail down those major plot points/twists?

  • Avoid sabotaging yourself by biting off more than you can chew or creating unrealistic expectations. Pick one major thing you'd like to accomplish for the weekend to ensure creative fulfillment and success.

Step Six - Gather your support materials and supplies.

  • What are you go-to sources of writing inspiration? Writing books (Save The Cat, The Virgin's Promise)?Favorite podcasts? Guided writing prompts designed to ask you all the right questions in the right order (The Heart of The Story, Embracing Your Villains)?

  • What are your sources of comfort? Make sure to have them all on hand. Favorite foods? Comfiest clothes? Favorite pens? Candles? Yummy beverages? Really treat yourself to everything you need so you can stay focused.

Step Seven - Show up, be present and make sure to love the process.

  • The best writing breakthroughs come when we can allow ourselves to stay loose and relaxed. We must learn to develop a tolerance for the not-knowing-until-we-do of it all that is inherent in the creative process. It is entirely possible to not feel like you've had any breakthroughs, even by the second day. But even in the face of that potential frustration/fear you have to learn how to stay with it, stay open and allow the inspiration to bubble up. If you find yourself trying to force a result or push it like a Type A task master, then get up, go for a walk, throw yourself a little dance party - anything to shake it up. You'll be surprised what can happen when you stop intently watching that pot, waiting for it to boil so to speak, and your creativity will thrive.

Step Eight - Celebrate your successes.

  • Sometimes writers don't even realize the breakthroughs they've caused until they step back and actively try to honor their successes. Really take the time, after your retreat, to summarize all that you've learned about your story (or even yourself/process as a writer) and thank yourself for being part of a special tribe of writers who are willing to take care of their inner storytellers in this way.

****Loving The Process is about host their annual virtual retreat, Embracing Your Villains. If you're interested in gifting yourself a weekend writing retreat you can do with a group, consider joining the Loving The Process writing community May 17th - 19th Sign up HERE

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