Do-It-Yourself...Writing Retreat, That Is (Penny Rader)
I wasn't able to attend the Romance Writers of America national conference last week in Anaheim, but I sure wish I could’ve been there.

So…I poked around the internet for tips on creating my own writing retreat and thought I’d share a few tidbits.  I hope you’ll click on the links and read the full posts.

Create Your Own Mini-Writing Retreat by Kathryn Haueisen Cashen
  • Rethink your definition of a retreat.
  • Commit to yourself.
  • Create a portable writing kit.
  • Set a goal for each retreat.
  • Start small.
  • Take a bigger leap.
  • Get creative.

The DIY Writer’s Retreat by Jason Theodor
  • Book vacation time.
  • Find a remote place to stay.
  • Remove distractions.
  • Stock good, simple food.
  • Organized files.
  • Comfortable writing space.
  • Physical space/mental space.
  • Natural sleep.
  • Obligation-free companionship.
  • Accountability.
  • Momentum.

DIY Writing Retreat by Kelli Russell Agodon

Notes from the author:
  • Do the longer assignments earlier in the day.
  • If you need to generate material to do a poem (say a word list, images from childhood, etc.) do this BEFORE you get there.
  • Have assignments for the end of the day that have more structure so when your brain conks out, you still have something to draw from.

...keep an open mind. We each brought new exercises, some we'd never tried before. We did not know if they would work or what would happen. Some exercises produced fantastic first drafts for all of us that we will continue to work on, others fell flat. We did not base our success on what we had written, but on the fact that we had tried something new and were all there together.

How to Create Your Own Writing Retreat by Midge Raymond
  • Just do it.
  • Gather your fellow writers together
  • Clear the decks.
  • Create your space.
  • Stay offline.
  • Give yourself guidelines.
  • Afterward, assess the pros and cons, the highs and lows
  • Schedule retreats often
Retreat Between the Pages with Elizabeth Ayres

Elizabeth Ayres, author, writing teacher, and founder of the Elizabeth Ayres Center for Creative Writing has paved the way for writers to take a retreat from everyday life with her book Writing the Wave: Inspired Rides for Aspiring Writers . For the price of the book and a cup of coffee, a writer can use Writing the Wave as a weekly retreat to stimulate creativity and learn, or re-learn, the fundamentals of writing.

Taking a Personal DIY Writer’s Retreat by Joan Whetzel
…the personal writer’s retreat is centered on writing, either concentrated working on writing in progress, concentrating on improving current writing skills, or adding new skills or techniques to the writer’s tool box. It can be combined with a personal retreat, where the writer recharges his or her batteries, either by sleeping more, taking naps, going to a restful location, exploring other creative outlets, eating better, exercising, or even taking a partial or complete break from writing – whatever it takes to refill the writer’s creative juices so he or she can get back to the business of writing with a fresh – or refreshed – perspective.

Are you inspired? Going to plan your own writing retreat? If you need a book or two with writing prompts to get you going, I've listed several of my favorites in a post I wrote a couple years ago, Need a Jump Start?  

If memory serves, WARA has another retreat planned for early October.

If you’ve already planned your writing retreats, please share what worked and what didn’t.


Reese Mobley said...

I was lucky enough to go to the conference this year and Pat and I talked about how much we enjoyed the couple of times WARA went to Dallas or Denver. No matter where or when our group gets together for our mini-retreats, it feels like such a productive time. We should do it more often.

Rox Delaney said...

Great points, Penny!

Another idea might be to add one of the taped workshop sessions from a previous RWA conference.

I know a few authors who break away to spend a weekend at a local hotel/motel with the express purpose of getting some writing done without interruptions. This especially seems to work well when a deadline is looming.

Penny Rader said...

Reese, I hope you and Pat had a great time at conference. I had a blast the year we went to Dallas.

Penny Rader said...

Great idea, Rox. During our March retreat I banished myself away from the group for the first half of the retreat -- got some pages written. I need to banish myself several times a week. ;D

Helen Hardt said...

Great ideas, Penny!

Penny Rader said...

Hi Helen! [waving] So good to "see" you.

Maddy said...

It's a delightful idea and sounds doable for many writers, however, for the few of us who aren't even able to manage those options things can be a bit dire.

On-line communities [if you're housebound like me] are an absolute must.

Tia Dani said...

Hi Penny,
We're a writing team and getting away together for a few days together works wonders. On several occassions we've holed up in a hotel and have been amazed at what we accomplished. We have done this with other writers too, but we didn't get as much writing done as we did when only the two of us. Probably had more fun though. lol
Enjoyed your post.

Michelle Libby/JIllian Hallowell said...

My Maine Chapter of RWA has a Camp Brainstorming retreat every summer at a camp in Northern Maine. It's fun and we spend time brainstorming ideas for one another. We also have lots of food, wine and down time. People are able to choose whether to write or brainstorm. The overnight is fun because once the work of the day is done, we can visit, talk shop and this year we put calls in to our two chapter members who were up for the GH and RITA awards at the conference.

Thanks for the info on retreats.


Cheryl Pierson said...

Penny, I love all these ideas. I had never thought about a 'do it yourself' writing retreat! What a great idea! Thanks for all these wonderful tips.

Penny Rader said...

Thanks for joining in, Maddy. I agree -- online communities are a fabulous support system.

The beauty of creating your own DIY writing retreat is that you don't have to leave home. Maybe get some fun snacks, tuck yourself away in a corner for a bit (or while your family snoozes) and:

*listen to music and write something inspired by the songs,or

*pull some pics out of a magazine and write about what's inside the pic or write about what's outside the pic, or

* jot down ten random words (if you want some help with that, check out this random word generator - ) and use them in a sentence or a paragraph or a story, or

* Grab a book with writing exercises and let your fingers fly. Don't have a book with exercises? Check out , or

* ask if members of your writing community want to set aside an hour or two to write together. You could just freewrite, or work on your current wip, or throw out some prompts and see what everyone comes up with.

Just a couple ideas. Hope you find something that works for you. :D

Penny Rader said...

Hi Tia Dani! How cool that you are a writing team. Do you have a system re who does what?

Penny Rader said...

Hi Michelle!

Your Camp Brainstorming sounds like a ton of fun. I love the name - just makes me want to gather up a few writers, my notebook and pen, and see what problems/solutions we can generate. :D

Members who've been able to attend WARA retreats have found the brainstorming parts quite helpful. We've also had a few weekend retreats with people free to come for all or part, whatever fit their schedule. Lots of eating, writing, laughing, visiting, plotting, brainstorming, and just hanging out.

Penny Rader said...

Hi Cheryl. Good to see you again! So glad you found the post helpful. I had lots of fun researching it. ;D

Nancy Jardine said...

The best quote for me up there is...'Just do it!' Great post, Penny. Since I've got 2 books releasing this August the thought of secreting away for a week afterwards is VERY tempting!

Ilona Fridl said...

Hi, all! Some great ideas on the post. What I like to do, on a nice day go outside and work on the patio. It's nice to get out in the fresh air.

Penny Rader said...

Congrats on your upcoming releases, Nancy! I hope you are able to get away for a bit.

Penny Rader said...

Great idea, Ilona! I'm looking forward to doing just that when the weather cools down a bit. One of my daughters gave me a cool swing for my bday. It's on our patio with a great view of our backyard and the critters that roam there (birds, squirrels, bunnies, my dog...).