How To Take Yourself On A Writing Retreat
- Have a writing plan: The first time I went on a retreat, the most magical unicorn of writer’s coaches Minal Hajratwala wisely counseled me to bring a range of types of writing materials—not just a ton of writing or a pile of reading but a little reading, my art supplies for making plot charts and theme diagrams, and notes on new writing I wanted to do. And whenever I go on retreat, I let myself focus all my efforts on one project. That’s the plan: I tackle just the novel or just my business plan but in multiple ways. I like this combination of distraction and focus. I retreat with one project plus three or four approaches to it.
- Have a food plan: Here’s my food plan: bring the wife. She really does all the cooking while I write. No wife? Here’s a tip from my personal chef: “Think beyond three square meals. For a weekend, you can plan to cook one fancy dinner and get a couple leftovers lunches out of it. Plan simple breakfasts because writers often get up earlier than chefs. And don’t forget snacks. Writers love snacks.”
- Have an indulgences plan: My typical writing retreat indulgences include wine, a white-tablecloth dinner out, and a hot water feature—either a hot tub at the retreat location or a spa reservation sometime during the weekend. But those are just what I like. Ask yourself, what would make me feel indulged as a writer? Plan that.
- Go to the perfect place: I prefer a rental with a kitchen to a hotel room, but that’s because of the wife and the cooking and the private hot tubs. I know another writer who loves to work in seedy hotels. For her writing retreats, she rents a room in her neighborhood SRO for a few days. Whatever floats your boat, you can probably find it and book it online right now. Need ideas? Check out my recent retreat destination, a magical bird’s nest in Long Beach, and watch for a few more ideas on the blog later this month.
- Bring toys: I’m not just talking about sex toys, but that’s a good start. Play aids creativity. It is also possible that creativity necessitates play. When you’re not writing and you’re not soaking in your chosen indulgence, you’ll want to be playing. What sorts of play turn you on and get you writing? I bring my ukulele. One recent retreat rental offered a ping pong table, and nothing got me back on my focus better than a fast paced, hysterical ten-minutes of little white plastic bouncing balls. Maybe you like Frisbee? Candyland? Poker? Plan for your amusement.
This February, we’re romancing the writer, and one sexy way to do that is to whisk yourself away on a writing retreat. We often find great destinations at AirBNB.