Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Importance of a Writing Retreat by Gabrielle Meyer


Re·treat verb “to withdraw, retire, or draw back, especially for shelter or seclusion.”

I don’t know a single writer who just writes. Each of us also has a life. Maybe we have a day job, a family, another business. We’re raising children or grandchildren, volunteering in our churches and communities, and trying to put a warm, healthy meal on the table at night. We’re busy people. But somewhere, amid our chaotic lives, we’re also weaving stories of love, hope, and redemption. We have contracts, deadlines, and publishing houses counting on us.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need to retreat. Withdraw. Find shelter.

There are three main types of writing retreats. Each one serves a different purpose, but they share one thing in common: refreshment.

  1. Personal Writing Retreat  - A personal retreat is one where we get away by ourselves to just write. This can happen in our home, at a retreat center, a cabin, or even a coffee shop or library. The idea is to set aside a chunk of time without any distractions. Maybe we want to write a certain word count, finish a synopsis, or plot out a story. Whatever it is, setting a goal helps us use our time wisely and we come away feeling refreshed, because we accomplished something.
  2. Retreat with a Friend or Two - One of my favorite retreats is with my writing buddies. We brainstorm, write, visit, eat, laugh, watch movies, and visit some more. I’ve hosted these retreats at my house, as well as been the guest of others. Once, a friend and I were the speakers at a conference in another state and we used the opportunity to retreat for a few days there. It’s a good idea to set goals for this time, as well, since it’s easy to get off track. I’m an extrovert and it’s hard for me to write when there are other people around, so my goals are usually to brainstorm. If I get that done, and my socialization tank is full, I feel refreshed. 
  3. Group Retreat - This is usually an event that is hosted at a retreat center or hotel. I host one in my hometown at a historic mansion on the banks of the Mississippi River. For three nights and four days, I provide a space for about twenty ladies to withdraw from their busy lives. We have a schedule, but it’s up to each lady how she wants to spend her time. There is plenty of space to spread out and write, brainstorm, or rest. There are a couple of workshops offered, as well as some fun activities in the evenings—and plenty of delicious food. A group retreat is a great opportunity to learn and grow. If done well, we come away feeling refreshed and ready to tackle our writing goals. 

Your Turn: Do you attend writers retreats? What kind is your favorite? Do you have a special memory from a retreat?


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Gabrielle Meyer lives in central Minnesota on the banks of the Mississippi River with her husband and four children. As an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society, she fell in love with the rich history of her state and enjoys writing fictional stories inspired by real people, places and events. 


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No One Is Too Tough to be Loved
Join seven Texas Rangers on the hunt for a menacing gang, who run straight into romances with women who foil their plans for both the job and their futures.

The Ranger's Reward
 by Gabrielle Meyer 
Texas Ranger, Griffin Sommer stops to check on the young widow, Evelyn Prentis minutes before the Markham gang arrives at her farm needing a place to hide. Griff and Evelyn are forced to pretend they’re married to keep Griff’s identity a secret, but will Evelyn’s young son let the truth out before Griff can bring the gang to justice?

9 comments:

  1. Gabrielle, You and I were in an MBT retreat together some years ago. This was so timely. I've held a type 2 and 3 at my house. The retreats were a blessing. Writing and spiritual retreats have been on my heart for some time. Currently we are looking at buying a cabin for our own and family retreats, a type 1 for me, and a place I can hold types 2 and 3. Seeing your post today and a realtor showing us 3 cabins tomorrow may be a confirmation for me. Thanks so much.

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    1. Hello Zoe! Yes, I remember that MBT retreat well. How fun that you’re looking at cabins tomorrow. I firmly believe that retreats are a way to minister to God’s people, and it’s such a blessing to me, as well. I’ll pray you find just the right cabin for your family.

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  2. I typically go on a couple retreats a year: one all by myself so I can focus on writing without any distractions. A second is with a group of writer friends, and again the focus is on writing. We don't have any classes or brainstorming sessions--it's our job that week to write. Then at the end of the week, we celebrate with dinner & a show.

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    1. That sounds like a fabulous way to retreat together, Brenda. I’m hoping to one day get you to my retreat at Linden Hill!! 😊

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  3. I've gone on several writing retreats with critique partners. We've stayed at a timeshare where we could enjoy nature, time in our own spaces, and each other's company.

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    1. Sounds like a great combination of socializing, work, and rest, Dawn. It’s nice to get away somewhere, especially to enjoy nature, and have your own space to spread out.

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  4. I haven't been on a writing retreat yet but would love to. Right now locking myself in a hotel room for a weekend sounds lovely. I need to do some serious writing without distraction. I'm not sure how successful I'd be at a retreat with others. I enjoy people too much. :) But I guess if everyone would lock me out of their spaces, I'd have no choice but to write. :)

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    1. I can relate, Karen! I’m such a people-person, I get easily distracted when I know there are people to talk to, visiting to be had, and fun in another part of the house. The only retreat where I actually get something done is one by myself.

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  5. Only 3 more months to Linden Hill! Looking SO forward to it.

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