Contemplating a Writing Retreat? Watch Out for These 6 Crimson Flags

Winter at all times sends me wanting frantically for the following alternative to run away and write, ideally in a steamy locale.

My first-ever writing retreat included 5 scorching hours on a freeway, a tiny dorm room, a stolen laptop computer and 10 incredible ladies. Although I’d by no means written something however journal entries, I burned up the web page that week and kicked off a 20-year (and counting) profession with the written phrase.

However how have you learnt if a retreat goes to encourage your muse, or silence her?

When a writing retreat is simply too good to be true

All writing retreats will not be created equal.

The magic ones are mind-blowing, shape-shifting, knock-your-socks-off incredible. Others are much less satisfying and wind up deflating your inventive urges.

How have you learnt which is which?

As somebody who each goes on retreats and hosts them for different writers, I’ve spent 15 years interviewing retreat runners and attendees. Right here’s what I’ve realized to be careful for when investigating a possible writing retreat.

1. Unimaginable guarantees

4 days to a bestseller! Write the following 50 Shades of Gray or Harry Potter!

There’s one thing so shiny and interesting about these claims, and it’s straightforward to get excited and carried away.

Nevertheless, you wish to see retreat supplies mood their exuberance. Your retreat chief ought to be prepared to offer the knowledge and abilities to write down your absolute best guide, but additionally to clarify the challenges of publishing and advertising and marketing a guide. You need a visionary, quite than idiot’s gold.

2. An untrained or barely revealed retreat chief

Put up a shingle, discover a home, collect a bunch of writers and…do not know what you might be doing.

Retreat copy on a web site web page can look fabulous, however the actuality doesn’t at all times reside as much as the hype. Nice retreat leaders have devoted themselves the craft of main retreats. They’ve a well-defined methodology, can shift individuals past their self-imposed inventive limits and may cross alongside tried and true craft instruments.

It’s OK to ask questions if a web site doesn’t embrace a transparent bio for the retreat chief. Listed here are just a few I like to contemplate:

What has she revealed? If you wish to write a thriller, you might not discover as a lot success at a retreat led by a poet or romance creator.
Has he targeted on self-publishing, conventional publishing or a mixture of the 2? When you’re eager on a specific path, select a pacesetter who can share her expertise and experience.
Has she run a couple of writing retreat, or collaborated with different leaders on earlier occasions? If that is his first unbiased retreat, has he helped or apprenticed with extra skilled retreat leaders to construct expertise?
What’s her model of educating? What sorts of educating strategies will she use?
What different abilities does he deliver to the desk as your mentor? Providing further assist resembling recommendation on creating a collection or the best way to discover an editor could also be useful.

A retreat chief is a beneficiant, expert visionary who is in a position that will help you develop your writing profession and offer you sources to maneuver your writing within the route of your goals.

three. A standard workshop methodology

Conventional workshop strategies contain sitting round a desk as a gaggle, critiquing one author’s work at a time. The entire group is free to throw out feedback, and with out a expert facilitator, this suggestions can simply veer from constructive to important.

Whereas this prospect is intimidating, it may also be detrimental to your creativity. When you’re feeling anxious or pressured concerning the suggestions you’ll obtain, you gained’t have the ability to do your finest work. Conversely, feeling comfortable “enhances psychological skills resembling ‘inventive considering, cognitive flexibility, and the processing of data,’” based on psychologist Daniel Goleman.

Search for workshop strategies that concentrate on constructive and constructive suggestions, and an skilled retreat chief who is aware of how that will help you develop your work with out going through an excessive amount of criticism. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if the critique or workshop course of isn’t clear from the retreat web site.

four. A pacesetter on a pedestal

Discovering whereas on retreat that your chief holds herself aside or works much less intently with sure members is a drag. You wish to know the way a lot contact you’ll have along with your retreat chief and the way approachable she’ll be.

Discover out beforehand whether or not you may be consuming with the retreat chief and whether or not you’ll share leisure time or solely structured educating time along with her. Additionally examine whether or not there’s a hierarchy when it comes to revealed and unpublished writers — will sure members obtain extra consideration or teaching than others?

Bowing all the way down to a proverbial podium can hurt your creativity in addition to your general retreat expertise. Ideally, your trainer will probably be available at meals and can take part brazenly in sharing actions. Be sure to know what you need, and that your retreat will ship.

5. Work duties

I do know it’s very un-Zen monastery of me, nevertheless it’s tough to “retreat” from actual life when you find yourself washing dishes and sweeping the eating corridor. After I go on a retreat, all I wish to work on is my writing.

In my view, writers on retreat ought to be spoiled: a stocked fridge, a incredible therapeutic massage, time to write down and skim aloud and be supported in your craft. You wish to be pampered and to nourish your self in your dream of being a profitable author. Every thing concerning the retreat, from the mattress to the meals to the bodywork (hopefully there’s bodywork!), ought to really feel good.

6. A retreat that doesn’t suit your wants

This one is tough, however it should make the most important distinction: you might want to know your self earlier than you join a retreat.

Do you crave a mentor that will help you hit your objectives and assist you thru the writing course of? When you work finest with a one-on-one dynamic, discover a retreat with an incredible trainer who solely accepts a small group of members and focuses on particular person suggestions.

Are you happiest having new associates to stroll with on the seashore, speak about books and discover craft? Go for a retreat that focuses on the group setting. When you get caught, you possibly can catch some loopy inventive vitality from the particular person sitting throughout from you.

Are you an introvert? Do you get your finest work executed alone? You would possibly wish to attempt creating your individual writing retreat. It’s additionally an economical method to take a look at out a writing retreat — although you might discover you miss the suggestions and steering of a mentor or group to share your work.

Choose a writing retreat that works for you

Your writing time is valuable. So is your cash, and retreats are sometimes dear.

Give your self a real present by watching out for these potential pitfalls, after which put together in your writing retreat to profit from it. Take pleasure in!

Have you ever ever fallen for one among these pitfalls when contemplating a writing retreat? What else ought to writers be careful for?

That is an up to date model of a narrative that was beforehand revealed. We replace our posts as typically as potential to make sure they’re helpful for our readers.

Photograph by way of  Patiwat Sariya / Shutterstock 

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