Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Only One More Week! by Patty Smith Hall

One of my favorite times of the entire year is coming up, and it has nothing to do with Halloween or the coming holidays. Because next week is my yearly writing retreat to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and I’m totally pumped! Eight days of focused concentration on my writing uninterrupted! And the best part? Being with seven other people who get that! If you’ve never had the opportunity to go on a writing retreat, let me tell you—you’re missing out on a chance to grow your writing in ways you’ve never imagined. 

What’s so great about a writing retreat? For me, it’s a chance to be selfish, to focus solely on my writing without having to worry about daily responsibilities that get in the way of long stretches of time. On the particular retreat I take part in, we rent a large house with lots of great writing space, so each participant has their own little nook. We make house rules that include long period of quiet time to give everyone time to write. You can write for as long (or as little) as you like. I usually work around 6-8 hours with short breaks in between, but we have one housemate who is at her computer by seven and doesn’t come up for air until dinnertime. (Talk about commitment!)

Another fantastic thing about a retreat is having several writer-friends ready to brainstorm with me if I run into a problem plot point or character.

To make the most of a writer’s retreat, you need to work out a plan of action beforehand. What do you hope to accomplish? Do you have a daily word count you’d like to achieve? Having a plan cuts down on wasting precious retreat time. For example, I had two goals at a recent mini-retreat I attended. First, I wanted to hammer out the last half of a novella I’ve been working on. Secondly, I wanted to talk through a problem I’ve had with a series I’ve been working on for the last year. The retreat only lasted two days, but I was able to accomplish both. For my Outer Banks retreat, I hope to finish writing the novella and start edits on another project.

So how do you organize a writing retreat? Start with a small group of writing friends who would benefit from such a project. Pick a location that is convenient for everyone(near to an airport, driving distance.) With Airbnb, you can find a place that fits your price range as well as your needs. Consider a retreat during the off-season—you can rent a beach house on the beach in Florida for a 1/3 of the cost if you go the last week of September. Once you’ve secured a location, decided on the particulars—length of retreat, eating in or going out(we have a friend who cooks for us! Hey Laura!), who gets what room, house rules and quiet zones.

Also, don’t be nervous if you don’t know everyone in the house. Last weekend, I knew two out of the eight people at the retreat, but by the time it ended, I had made five new friends who knew my Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman story!

Because that’s what a writing retreat does—it draws us closer together.

To make the most of a writer’s retreat, you need to work out a plan of action beforehand. via @pattywrites #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting


Patty Smith Hall lives in North Georgia with her husband of 36+ years, Danny. Her passion is
to write tender romances based in little-known historical moments. The winner of the 2008 ACFW Genesis award in historical romance, she is published with Love Inspired Historical, Barbour and Winged Publishing, and is a contributor to the Seriously Writing blog as well as Journey magazine. Patty is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.