I keep looking them up and coveting them, but I decided to choose one and set myself a goal to save up and go to one, not this year, but in the not too distant future. Next year? Not sure. I hope so!
The one I chose is one of several run by a specific person. Page Lambert is an author, a creative coach, and an editor, in addition to facilitating three writing retreats per year. She lives here in Colorado, and I'm excited to say that she'll be coming down to the Springs to speak for Pikes Peak Writers this month (May 21!!). I can't wait! I've heard great things from other people who have heard her speak, so I'm looking forward to her talk. (If you're in a position to come to Colorado Springs for her workshop, click on May 21 above and see what her topic is! I'd love to see you!)
In getting to know Page, I read up on her writing retreats. She leads one into Peru, one is a river rafting trip (this fall), and the one I want to go on is at the Vee Bar Ranch (Literature and Landscape of the Horse). That particular one was recently featured in the Casper Star Tribune, while her river rafting trip was featured in O Magazine in 2006. The one at the Vee Bar Ranch is a week long, you get your own horse, and you split your time between writing and riding. Really, I'd like to go on any of them, but this is the one that's really caught my attention.
|By Seth.zeigler [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons|
Since I have a hard time justifying spending money on myself, I figured I'd look at how writing retreats can benefit me, and why I deserve to go on one (eventually), and drag you guys along with me. Plus, there's probably a few of you out there that can help convince me. Right?
What a Writing Retreat Can Do For You:
1. It can get you away from home and the distractions you find there. Sure, I can go to Starbucks or somewhere like that, but that's a short-term thing, and it's still too easy for me to realize there's something else I can be doing and run back home. I still have to do the usual stuff before I head out, and when I get home. In other words, my personal distractions are looming over me when I try to go somewhere outside my house for the day. I'm inclined to get online and get non-writing work done if there's free wi-fi (so I often avoid places with free wi-fi). But when I left home for a weekend to go to my brother's Navy graduation, I was so excited about one feature of my hotel room: my desk. Yes, I was pathetically excited about that sucker. There were no kids, I'd told people I was away and wouldn't be doing any work-work, and I didn't have a phone with an internet connection to check emails and such (now I do, sigh). That meant the evenings when I was there by myself could be all about writing. This tiny little space and me. The freedom I felt was tremendous. Not from my family, but from the constraints I put on myself, the pressure I feel to be good at any work I'm doing, to put it first. I got a break from that for one weekend, and it showed. Guess which story I finished out there? The one that just got picked up for a magazine. Yeah. Imagine what a person could do with a week away that's dedicated to the writer in you.
2. Education. Each of the retreats I've looked at over the last few months has featured different resources and instructors. All offer something, some specifically themed, some not, to make the retreat worthwhile for those attending. It isn't just about writing time (well, probably some are), but about experiences, training, and education. You can learn a bit about writing then immediately put it into practice. A conference lasts a weekend and teaches so much. A week long retreat can teach so much more, while in an often more laid back atmosphere, where you aren't running from workshop to workshop, session to session.
3. Feedback/Critiques. Some, not all, retreats offer feedback of some sort. A space to share your writing and get tips to improve it. I keep hearing how important critique groups are, and here is a way to get immediate feedback over the period of your stay. If it's not offered in the larger group, you can always buddy up with someone and offer to critique for them if they'll do the same for you. And who knows? You may leave there with a critique partner you can email back and forth with.
4. Inspiration. There are many sources of inspiration on a retreat. For one, being around other creatives always inspires me, even if it's for two hours at a lunch or an evening event. I leave conference every year wanting more, needing to write, processing gazillions of creative thoughts that sprang up because I was in that mental space required to be creative. A week away, surrounded by other writers, would certainly inspire me in countless ways. In addition, for me at least, getting back to nature, back to the basics, always gets those creative juices flowing. Riding a horse out on the range, learning how to care for a horse, viewing the gorgeous surroundings on the ranch. All of those things appeal to me, to an ignored part of me that yearns for more of that type of experience. And then, of course, if you've got an accomplished facilitator/instructor, you'll be inspired by them. I know that I look at what Page Lambert has accomplished and am already inspired.
|BY OCAL, clker.com|
I don't know if I talked you into a retreat, but it's certainly sounding good to me. The one I want to go to is in June, so no way for me to save up in time for that, but maybe next year or the year after. I know Page has been doing this for 17 years, and I can only hope she'll keep doing it for many years more.
Something else I'd love to do some day is maybe put together a retreat for Pikes Peak Writers. And I can't do that until I've experienced it and seen it from the other side, right? RIGHT?! Or is that just what I'm telling myself?
Can you tell how badly I want to go to do this??
Have you been on a writing retreat before? Did you like it? What did you like/not like about it? What would be your optimal writing retreat? Did you see any benefits I didn't mention here?
May you find your Muse.