Two weekends ago, I went on a writing retreat with five other Chippewa Falls Area WisRWA group members. Getting away for the purpose of writing, brainstorming, and/or honing our craft was a great way to renew our dedication to what we love the most – writing.
Us Chip girls try to have a weekend writing retreat once a year. In the past, we have had our retreats at hotels with adjoining rooms. This year we rented a house near New Auburn, Wisconsin. Yep, on a lake. The house gave us ample space, and I would highly recommend it if thinking about your own retreat.
So, what do we do on our retreats? Besides making sure that we have enough food, snacks, and beverages (of all kinds) that are readily available, we create a scheduled plan for the weekend to make sure we keep on task.
The first thing we do after arriving and getting settled in is to have each person list what she would like to accomplish at the retreat. This could be writing 10,000 words, editing three chapters, brainstorming, creating an outline, or creating a synopsis. We will have at least three goals (or more) per person that are written on large paper and taped to the wall to keep us accountable (and so we don’t forget).
Based on everyone’s goals, our second step is to create the agenda for the retreat. The agenda includes time each day for personal writing, group brainstorm sessions, walks, meals, and cocktail hours. For example, we may eat breakfast at 7:00 a.m., write solo (personal time) for two to three hours, gather in the living room for the group brainstorm session, eat lunch, walk, and then write solo again until cocktail hour. After dinner, we’ll talk about our work, play one or more games, and catch up on personal events.
Throughout the day, we will look at the agenda (large sheet of paper also taped to the wall) and cross off what we’ve accomplished. We’ll also discuss if we need to make changes to the agenda for the next day. After having some writing time, one of us may need to brainstorm ideas with the group. We’ll also mark off the personal goals we’ve accomplished. Yes, we’re list people who love to check off tasks when they are completed. Strikethrough, star or check mark – it doesn’t matter.
At the end of the retreat, as we’re eating lunch (all the leftovers), we’ll see how much we’ve accomplished as a group. The best feeling in the world is to see how much we’ve accomplished. When it’s time to leave, we may be tired from writing, but we also feel satisfied and eager to continue the pace once we get home. I cannot wait for next year.
Beth M James
Novels based on strong characters and elements of romance.