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?


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
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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?