Retreat, Renew and Reward

As you might know by now, the YAMuses spend one fall weekend on a private writing retreat. This past weekend, I was the host here in my home state of Colorado. The weather was cloudy, rainy, and chilly. Absolutely perfect for spreading out in the cabin and writing our little hearts out. The schedule was simple. We'd start the day by eating breakfast together at the big dining room table, talking about new book ideas and problem scenes. Then we scattered out throughout the cabin and all wrote for 2-3 hour blocks of time. Sometimes someone issued a challenge to meet a certain goal by the next break--word counts, critical scenes, backstory--everyone had different goals. At the breaks, "we went on safari," planning our blog topics and talking about the business of writing. We also saw the amazing scenery and wildlife of Rocky Mountain National Park.

At night, we read manuscripts in process (sometimes freshly written the hour before), critiqued the hell out of them, and then built a big fire in the fireplace and roasted s'mores.

As a writer, it was heaven. So what did I learn?

1) Retreat with like minds. The Muses share a wickedly funny sense of humor. When we're together we laugh a lot, sometimes so hard we can't catch our breath. But when it comes time to work, we focus completely on accomplishing our writing goals. If I'm going to retreat from everything else in my life, I want to be sure the time is spent productively.
2) Renew your commitment. The writing life is, for the most part, a solitary endeavor. Having four brilliant writing minds in one room focusing on making my manuscript better is an incredible resource. It also means I'm able to have constant conversations with others who completely understand the process and the business. So rare in everyday, non-writing life. It all brings me back home to my solitary time in front of the computer, and the rest of my crazy life I'm trying to balance, with a renewed sense of commitment and belief that I can do this. So so SO important to see from time to time.

3) Reward your success. I realized when I'm in a retreat setting, and the writing process is so intense, I tend to reward myself frequently. I write a scene, then take a walk. I revise a chapter, then go for a drive. Or make s'mores. Or have a glass of wine. Or, the best reward of all, read the fabulous manuscripts surrounding me in the room where my fellow muses are writing. I'd like to take a little something of this reward system back to my writing life. I often have things I HAVE to do once I finish a writing task, but I'd like to do more things that are little rewards for a job well done. It's a wonderful transition back into the real world.

P.S. If you want to SEE the retreat for yourself, just scroll down a bit more and catch the highlights.


Thanks for the great ideas & tips! I'm planning a couple of retreats: one just for me & one w/ writing friends.

I love writing retreats...and it sounds like you all had a great time! :)

It sounds absolutely wonderful!

Awesome :) I have two retreats coming up and I can't wait!! I love the idea of rewarding myself with a walk after finishing a scene... I might just have to steal that idea!

Sounds like a healthy, productive mix of activities. I like the idea of using the reward system on a regular basis. If I can just remember to do that...

Could you do a post about how you guys organized the writing retreat - finding a place, inviting people, etc? I see people talking about retreats and would love to organize one but don't know a thing about where to start. Thanks!

Glad all you muses are having/had such an inspiring time! Go get 'em.

Wow. A writing retreat in Colorado? Sounds fabulous! Thanks for the post. :)

I loved reading your updates over the weekend! I have a retreat coming up at the end of the month, and your posts made the anticipation that much sweeter.

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