Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend (and teach at) the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' 2017 Writing Retreat in Colorado Springs.
The retreat took place at the lovely Franciscan Retreat Center, a beautiful, serene location surrounded by mountains and inhabited by lots of fuzzy deer.
The attendees, fellow presenters Anita Mumm and Susie Brooks, and I spent three days working, learning, and sharing our craft and our stories.
Each morning, after a tasty breakfast, most of us gathered for a teaching session--though other attendees set up computers in their rooms, on couches in the comfy lounge, or outside on the retreat center's lovely campus, for private writing time. Afternoon activities included blue pencil critiques, writing classes, and round-table critiques in which attendees both gave and received constructive (and positive) criticism of one another's works.
In the evenings, we gathered in the lounge for readings, talk, and wine (the tasty kind . . . without the "h").
At any hour of the day or night, you could find people writing, editing, or talking through plot points with other writers, either in the lodge or on one of the center's many lovely trails.
Did I mention there were deer?
We laughed. We talked. We worked on our stories. We let the "real world" slip away for three delightful days . Regardless of the jobs we do or the lives we led below the mountain, for this delightful, peaceful weekend, we were writers . . . first and only.
The atmosphere was encouraging, invigorating, and inspiring--just the thing to shake loose blocks and get the writing gears in motion.
Writing is mostly a lonesome art. Unless you write with a partner (and often, even if you do) you probably spend a lot of hours alone at your desk--or wherever you write--creating words in a kind of artistic vaccuum. This doesn't bother most of us - writers are often introverts - but even the most introverted of writers can benefit from time in the company of others who share our peculiar, solitary art.
Hence the title: sometimes, a retreat may provide precisely the atmosphere and inspiration you need to move forward with your writing. Although they do cost money, retreats pay enormous dividends in craft improvement, professional connections, and inspiration. It's easy to let the needs of the world come between you and your writing, and a retreat is often the best prescription for writers suffering from self-doubt or flagging strength.
If you can, I hope you attend the RMFW 2018 retreat--and if you can't, I hope you can take the time to retreat on your own, or with a group of writers close to you. I think you'll find the benefits well worth while.
Have you attended a writing retreat? I'd love to hear about your experience too!