I want to spend a moment talking about the importance of a retreat where the only expectations put on you are the ones you've put upon yourself. Your goals are all that matter and it is up to you to complete something, polish something, begin something new, or write a million drabbles that make you feel like a complete human being. A writer's retreat is a place where you don't have to worry about dishes or about vacuuming or about who's coming over to dinner tonight or how your hair looks. It's a place where you focus on your writing and on the things that awaken creativity. An ideal retreat, in my opinion, would begin with everyone coming together for some sort of physical exercise (a swim in a nearby lake, playing the human knot game until you finally untangle, red-light/green-light, or even just a nice long hike in the outdoors). Then we would move into something soothing like meditation (guided or personal) and go through a series of long stretches. No matter the person's artistic preference, it is through our hands, our minds, our senses, our bodies that we receive and interpret and create and it is good to keep these things fine tuned.
We would break off then to get to work. It would be for the individual after all. We would make our own schedules and keep them accordingly. I would have meal times listed - that or we would rough it and each fend for ourselves - and we could come together for fellowship and re-invigoration. It would not be a test, competition, or race. Everyone should come with their own goals and work toward them and revise them as they see fit. There may be a communal activity once or twice a day (most likely something physical again and then something more mental). At the end of how ever many days (hours) that we hold the retreat, I think there should be an opportunity to showcase a piece of what we worked so hard on. We could have a reading or we could pass out a packet to look over. This retreat would not have to be limited to writing, though I would suggest special emphasis in this area.
We've had a few ideas thrown around on this site for workshopping and other communal efforts to encourage ourselves and each other to continue working on our goals. I propose a small writer's retreat as a way to generate lots of new material without the distractions of the everyday world. There could even be a workshopping segment of the retreat to help authors who want to polish up their material. What are some thoughts on this? Of course cost is something to keep in mind, but if this were to be something we could do in the summer months, it would be feasible to do a sort of camp out. There are places that have rec rooms with electricity for us to use. Or we could even do a two day retreat and rent out public park spaces such as the one at Kiwanis park where electricity is available. You don't need a large group to have a retreat - it is more than practical to have a retreat of just one. If you can't meet up with fellow writers, you can always pick up some goodies and lock yourself away in a hotel somewhere for the night.
The most important thing of all in these retreats however, is that you have privacy and can remain relatively untouched by the troubles of the real world. This is definitely something I want to look into having. For further information on some already established retreats visit here and here! Or check out this guidebook: here. These are just a few things about retreats, the internet is full of them and with such boundless reference material at our fingertips, it seems a darn shame not to take advantage of having a retreat all our own. Or at least all on one's one.
Amanda LaFantasie (Skoora)