Develop Your Writing on a Retreat

On a retreat you can be as much of a learner and teacher as everyone else.

Some people think a retreat is what armies do when they’ve screwed up, but that isn’t all. In fact, for we writers an untutored retreat offers personal time away from a routine and everyday environment. What’s more the agenda is all our own. In my experience a retreat affords me a chance to enhance my skills, know-how and approach to writing or other creative pursuits and discover new possibilities.

It’s about me. It’s about you.

• Imagine being in a place conducive to personal development and self-discovery. 

• Imagine the agenda being yours and yours alone. 

• Imagine opportunities to share, assist and be assisted by others, if you choose. 

• Imagine being in sole charge of what you do.

From positive experience I believe untutored retreats give chances to be both selfish and unselfish in meeting one’s personal development agenda. Moreover, attendees often encounter and may well share with other ‘retreating’ writers, so extending helpful insights from differing perspectives.

Having a space to work privately and time for sharing with others is a heady tonic for personal writing plans and ambitions. To say nothing of the joy of connecting with people who know the world of writing.

golden potential placeA place for a retreat

What type of place and environment is beneficial? We are all different. Some of us want time alone, others appreciate company and many a bit of both. A venue is far more than simply a building to sleep and work in. An excellent location enriches possibilities. The Highlands, Islands and Borders spring to mind, along with countless fabulous places the length and breadth of Scotland and the UK.

The benefits of a retreat

When I attended my first untutored retreat, I arrived with a simple work plan. Basically, I’d do more of the same without everyday distractions. Then I went to the kitchen area to make a brew and purloin a biscuit. 

The inevitability of a quick hello with anyone present couldn’t be avoided. Later, over meals and breaks, connections grew, and sharing took place. Before long, beyond private work, I spent time here and there with others. Walks, wild swimming and exploring the area balanced my solo work and made the process both productive and enjoyable.

A productive environment

The exchange of ideas and mutual support often leads to accomplishment along with (surprise, surprise) insights and solutions. For instance, you may have a task in mind, completing a story, editing a manuscript, designing a cover, working on a script, or even writing a poem. In fact casual chats can generate helpful ideas in a pleasant enabling environment, time and space around other creatives (on their own journey) generates connections and stimulates results. 

My sort of place is rural, peaceful and bonny. Before long the stress of arrival is soon replaced by the ease of being in an enabling space alongside people who want to be there and are willing to share – for the most part. A significant bonus is that fruitful friendships may continue long after a retreat is over. 

Questions

Considering what I’ve learned, when I attend my next retreat, I’ll prepare using questions like these:

  • Why am I going? 
  • What do I want from this? 
  • What will I work on?

Questions like these find answers as you journey, open-minded, through your time in an alternative and gently productive environment.

It’s about gain and comradeship on a retreat

Apart from the writing results you want, if the catering is excellent, you might gain weight. Who cares? Productivity and nurturing go hand in hand. Search, discovery, new friendships and growth are probable outcomes. Enjoy.