Video: DIY, At-Home Writing Retreat

Last November, I wanted to try out my very first writing retreat, but CV-19 and budget constraints made it impossible for me to attend a physical one. So, instead of giving up, I did my research and planned out my very own 2-day writing retreat! In this video, I discuss how I prepared for the retreat, what my schedule looked like, and what I learned from it. I plan to do these retreats once per quarter throughout 2022, so I may post updates to this content throughout the year.

I have also added a downloadable PDF copy of my Writing Retreat agenda that I followed, along with some tips for creative, learning, and exercise time throughout your retreat. Sign up for my newsletter to gain access to the PDF!


Hello my ghouls. Today. I thought I’d talk about writing retreats. Back in November, I actually did a writing retreat at home, kind of a do it yourself, did it by myself. So I thought I talked about the lessons that I’ve learned and the things that I plan to try next time I do a writing retreat.

Hello, everyone. Welcome to my channel. For those that don’t know me. I’m K.D. Kulpa. I’m a horror writer and I’m on the path to becoming a published author. This vlog is all about my journey to becoming a published author. Some of the things that I’m doing and what I’m learning along the way, as well as some others kind of side projects that I’ve been working on.

Mainly on this channel so far, I have my haunted Saskatchewan vlog. I’m going around to locations in, mostly in Southern Saskatchewan right now, but I’m hoping to branch out as COVID restrictions are lifted. But right now it’s just, like I said, in Southern Saskatchewan. And I actually go to these locations, take photos, and pretty soon I’ll be taking videos and doing interviews of people that have had experiences at the locations. So I’m quite excited about it. And I hope that you check those out. So, as I said today, I wanted to talk about writing retreats. Back in November, I had a four-day weekend off from work as I work full-time during the day. And I decided to try out writing retreats.

Of course COVID makes it difficult to really travel right now for me. So I did it myself at home and I thought I’d share with you today what I did, what I learned and what I’m planning on doing the next time. As I plan to do these quarterly throughout the year to help me finish my second book and get into my third book, is that ideas in my head that I want to get down.

So first let’s talk about preparing for your writing retreat. Even though I thought I prepared enough and I did a lot of research on what others have done for writing retreats, I still could have prepared even more. I knew that I wanted to work on my next book and since I hadn’t thought about my next book fully yet,

I wanted to make sure I had some time for outlining, thinking about characters and development and those types of things. So if you don’t want to have to outline during your writing retreat, you want to make sure that you have those ideas figured out and laid out beforehand. If you don’t want to have to do a lot of prep work, then make sure that you consider that when you’re doing your scheduling of your writing sessions and things,that you include that sort of prep in one of your sessions. Another thing, of course, you have to think about if you’re like me and you have children, you have to figure out how you’re going to do your writing retreat. Especially if you’re at home, like what are your children going to be doing? How are you going to be keeping them away from interrupting you and coming into your writing space all the time?

You’ll want to make sure that you bring your snacks into the room with you. For example, I wrote here at my desk, in my bedroom. And I made sure I had tea. I made a pot of tea. I made sure I had snacks so that I wouldn’t have to go downstairs to the kitchen and be distracted by my kids needing something, even though my husband’s home to help them.

I also made sure to have lots of water. I had a pen, I had a notebook. I had the materials I needed for my learning that I wanted to do that day or my other creative endeavors that I wanted to try to tackle that day. So I had all of those things sort of in mind. I would say that that was one of the things I didn’t prepare enough though.

I didn’t bring the materials for my creative portions. Like I did photography and drawing. I didn’t actually bring them into the room with me. I left them downstairs, which is where my kids are. So, of course, those sessions that I had lined up, didn’t go as well as it could have, because I got sidetracked going downstairs.

Luckily the learning portion of my days that I put in, I did, it was just streaming online. It was a video online. So that was easy enough to stay in the room for. Speaking of the learning portion, you need to think about what do you want to learn while you’re on your writing retreat? For example, I wanted to learn about something other than writing.

I didn’t want to focus entirely on writing throughout my entire writing retreat, even though that is definitely something you could do. I wanted my learning and my creativity time to be a break from the writing where I’m not even thinking about writing. So I did things like, I think I did a voice acting class just for something fun and completely different.

And I did goal setting and marketing to think about how I wanted to do my, my writing goals for 2022. And how I wanted market my stuff and that kind of thing. Cause I’m still learning that. So I wanted that to be part of my learning during my writing retreat and that way kind of get to take a complete break from actual writing.

Okay. So let’s talk about the second thing you need to think about when you’re deciding what to do for your do it yourself, writing retreat. And that is coming up with an actual schedule. When I did my schedule, I kind of guessed on how much time I would need. Particularly for my writing sessions, I knew I would need a good 10 to 15 minutes to get into my writing to really get into the zone or the flow or whatever you want to call it.

I know that I can’t just sit down and instantly turn it on. I need to sit down, get into the characters, get it back into that world. Usually by turning on music. Which for me is instrumental music. I can’t have anything with words or else it interferes. So for myself, I knew I wanted to get a lot of writing time in.

So I made two hour writing sessions and I did three of those on each day. And just so that, you know, I have included a link down below to sign up for my newsletter because right now I am including a downloadable PDF that has my writing schedule or my schedule that I did for my first writing retreat. I, like I said, I plan on doing these every quarter.

So it’ll probably change as time goes on. But if you’re interested in downloading that PDF, you just need to sign up at the link below. So yeah, so I included three, two hour writing sessions. So that took up a big chunk of my time because I didn’t want to miss suppers with my family. I didn’t want to work like a 14 hour day during a weekend away from my day job, but I still wanted to get lots of time in.

So I also got up early. I think I got up between six and six 30. I went downstairs, had breakfast. I have a beagle and she insists that she is first, whenever we wake up. So I also dealt with her. I gave her her food or water, let her outside and dealt with that stuff before my writing retreat officially started at seven

AM. I also was given the advice to bring a journal with me before my writing retreat started. So while I was having coffee, I did some writing in a journal and sort of did like a brain dump. Really just getting all the thoughts out of my head, onto the paper, everything that I was thinking about, everything that I was worrying about what I was hoping to accomplish that day and how I was hoping to accomplish it, kind of thinking through those steps as well, to get me into the right mindset.

And then I started at 7:00 AM with my first writing session. I did also one at one to two hour creative time slots in the morning in between two writing sessions. So if my first writing session was from seven to 9:00 AM, for example, then from nine to 10 or so, I would do one of my creative projects, which like I said, was drawing.

I did some drawing as well as some photography one day. Because I like photography, you know, you could go outside and take photos and that could be kind of a nice little break from your writing. The other thing I did was I took an hour off for lunch. I went down and I would eat lunch. And then I’d either go for a walk outside to just clear my head or do some yoga or stretching, but you could do a lot of different things. You could

turn on music and dance. You could do a dance video. You could do my kids have those HIIT videos on YouTube. So you could find a HIIT video if you wanted to and have a quick shower before you dive back into writing again. Really the option is up to you, what you do during your creative time in your walk and your exercise.

So use your imagination. I’m sure you can come up with something. And then the last, then in the afternoon, I did one more writing session, a two hour writing session followed by an hour spent learning. So as I mentioned, my learning was voice acting for one day. I did, I think I ended up doing actually two hours instead of only one hour, because I didn’t have another writing session after this was the end of my.

Scheduled day. I ended up staying longer and watching more of about the voice acting and the goal planning and marketing. I also did a little bit, and that was sort of my day. And then of course, at the end of the day, instead of, you know, watching TV or getting pulled into something else. In order to help myself wind down at the end of the day and kind of mentally prepare for the next writing retreat day is I did some reading for 30 to 60 minutes.

I can’t remember exactly how long I did it, but it was somewhere between 30 to 60 minutes before I went to bed. I read something sort of in my genre to get my mind into it, but you could do probably anything that you want. If you prefer nonfiction, fiction, something completely different genre that you write in that would be up to you.

But I just wanted to do the reading, to get my mindset into that world sort of before the next day started. All right. So let’s talk about what I learned, I guess. Preparation. I thought I was prepared. I did lots of research on what other people do and they all said, you know, make sure you have your laptop and it’s charged and make sure you have a journal and pens and paper and all of those things that you need to do the writing portions.

But what I didn’t think about was okay, but I also need to, you know, what do I want to accomplish during my creative time? I mean, mostly I just wanted to be creative. I didn’t want to put really a set anything on it. I wanted that to be a break and a release from what I’ve been working on all day, but I still needed to think about where’s my camera for the photography.

Am I going to go for a walk during the photography? Is the weather good to do that? Do I want to stay in, do I need something set up so that when I switched to photography, I can get into it right away instead of. I was scrambling around looking for my drawing stuff for the drawing time. I was scrambling looking around for my photography stuff.

When it was photography time, I didn’t have it in my mind exactly what I was thinking I was going to do during that time. So like the photography I knew I wanted to take photos and I kind of had an idea of what I wanted to take photos of. I didn’t prepare anything for it. So even though I gave myself an hour to do those things, I would say a good chunk of that hour was spent running around the house.

And then of course you get sidetracked because especially if you’re like me and you have kids, you get making snacks for them, or you start cleaning something or you start a little laundry and then suddenly you’re going, oh yeah, writing retreat need to go back to it. So. Prepare more for that side of stuff, that side of things.

Next time, another thing I learned was really the time I really liked the two hour writing sessions that worked out really well for me, as I said, it gave me the 10 to 15 minutes to get focused into that zone before I really got into the flow of things. And then that gave me a good hour, hour and a half to really focus on my.

And I ended up doing first a book outline because it was, uh, my new book that I’m working on. So I hadn’t gotten through all the characters and plot development, and I haven’t thought of any of those things yet. And even though I don’t usually really preplan all of that stuff, I kind of let it come out and it changes as it goes, but I knew I needed to have an idea, especially character names I found with the first book.

I was really bad at reusing the first, uh, the first sound of names. So like acids, I use a lot of SS, you know, like Stephen, Stan, Sam, like that kind of thing. So I wanted to have some names in mind before I started figuring out character development not necessarily the names of the characters. Just I did a search for.

Male names. And I wrote down a bunch, did a search for female names and wrote down much, did a search for surnames and wrote down a bunch. And then when it came into me actually writing, it was like, oh, okay. I need, man. I’d look at my list names. Oh, this is his name, I can tell. You know, so I was prepared that way.

I was, I was ready to do the writing. I don’t know that I would mix project. Like I said, I was doing short stories mixed with working on my new book. So I don’t think I would do that again because it, it felt jarring to switch projects halfway through the day, you know, to start working on my book. First thing in the morning, have a couple of sessions to two hour sessions working on that and then switch to a short story for the afternoon session.

I think next time. Either focus a full day on one project or just the entire writing retreat on one project. I don’t think I would switch back and forth like that again, because I did find it a little jarring mentally to try and jump into different worlds based on which writing session I was in. So that is definitely one thing I would say.

Another thing I might add in to my next writing retreat is journaling again at the end of the day, to kind of wrap up my feelings, wrap up how the day went. I only journal in the morning. So because I only gave myself, you know, 15, 20 minutes in the morning to do the journaling. It felt kind of short and quick.

And like, I didn’t really get into how the previous day. And since I only did a two day retreat, I feel like journaling even for 10 minutes again, at the end of the day on both days would kind of help wrap up how the retreat went and, you know, progress and things I learned and that kind of thing, so that I would have it for the next.

So what’s going to happen next for me, as I mentioned, I plan on doing these writing retreats quarterly, and probably many of them will be this, do it yourself at home type. I might try to do one in a hotel just to see what the difference is, uh, versus at home. The one thing I really like about at home is you don’t have to pack everything up because everything’s already in your house.

The biggest thing I would change, of course, like I said already, Is prepare beforehand a little bit better for my, even my non-writing sessions, but perhaps a hotel would kind of that different atmosphere would help me stay focused better. And because I’d have to take everything with me, I’d have to think through things a little bit better.

And plus of course the kids wouldn’t be there, so it’d be easier to not be distracted by them and hear them running around and banging on the doors. And they’ll say, So that might be better. We’ll see. Uh, I may also try to do some retreats that are hosted by, for example, the Saskatchewan Writers Guild, I know has a self-directed retreat, but I think it’s for a week they also have a directed retreat, which is someone actually planning your schedule for you.

I may try that. I know there’s some, I think in Northern Saskatchewan as well. And I’m sure other provinces have them too. So I may try to add one a year, uh, going to a location to see what it’s like, and I could talk about it on my channel. So make sure that you like the video, if you like this kind of content.

So I know what else to make in the future or comment down below if you’ve tried writing retreats and what you thought of them. Of course, I would also love to hear from you. If you have ideas of what you want to see on this channel. As I mentioned, it is my writing. So it has information about my writing journey to try to become published.

I also have my haunted Saskatchewan series currently going on. I hope to add in more locations from Saskatchewan as well as Western Canada. So if you have any locations that you’d like to recommend comment down below and make sure you subscribe and hit that little bell from, for a notification for when my new videos are published so that you don’t miss.

I may also be adding some short stories to my YouTube at some point, but for now they are just on my website in text form. So I’ll leave a link down below to my website in case you want to check those out as well. Thank you for watching. And until next time, my ghouls.


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