Hello my ghouls!! As a follow up to my my YouTube video regarding writer’s retreats, I started a series of posts that go into more detail about writer’s retreats, based on my personal experience, as well as the research that I had done prior to my retreat.
This series will include:
1. What I did to prepare for the retreat;
2. The types of sessions I put in my schedule; and
3. What I learned from my first retreat, including what I plan to do differently next time.
If you are interested in seeing my exact 2-day writing retreat schedule that I followed, sign up for my newsletter here! You will receive a PDF download in your inbox just for signing up!
Okay, let’s get into Part 2!
What to include in your retreat
Based on the research of other retreats that I could find, the balance retreat has:
- Multiple writing sessions throughout the day (or at least “writing exercises” depending on if you need prompts for your writing).
- The odd block of time for creative sessions to fuel your creative mind. Things like drawing, reading, listening to a podcast – something that helps you relax and take a break.
- An exercise block of time at least once a day. This could be going for a walk outside, yoga, dancing – whatever helps you re-energize halfway through the day.
Personally, I found that 2 hour writing sessions were a good start. That way, I had a good 15 minutes to get into the writing (re-immerse myself back into that world), and then by the time the 2 hours was up, my mind was ready for a break.
So, before you sit down and plan out a schedule that you want to follow for your retreat, make sure you think about what kind of breaks you will need to incorporate and how long you think you will be able to write for non-stop.
My first example schedule
In my first attempt at the at-home, DIY writing retreat, I tried to break up my day into realistic chunks of time for each section above. I didn’t want to spend all day AND all night doing the retreat thing, as I still wanted to spend at least one mealtime with my family, along with a little time in the evening. I think that is one downfall of doing that at-home retreat if you want to be completely immersed for the entire day and night. If you have young kids, they want you to pay attention to them at some point during the day, whether their other parent keeps them busy or not.
I have added my sample schedule to a downloadable PDF, which you can access for free if you sign up for my newsletter. This downloadable includes some ideas for a creative time, exercise time, and learning time.
Here is a rough outline of what I did for my first writing retreat. This was just a 2-day retreat, so these times were for both days.
6:30 am – Wake up, have coffee and breakfast, while doing a brain dump in a journal
7:00 am – First 2-hour writing session
9:00 am – Take a break and do something creative (Creative Session)
10:00 am – Second 2-hour writing session
12:00 pm – Lunch and go for a walk outside (Exercise/Movement Session)
1:00 pm – Third 2-hour writing session
3:00 pm – Learning Session
4:30 pm – End Day
I also added in a 1-hour reading session before bed. I scheduled this for after the kids would be in bed so that I could wind down. I wanted to read so that I could still be fueling my creativity without spending even more time writing. Since this was my first attempt at doing a retreat, I wasn’t sure I would have the stamina for writing all day for 8 hours.
I feel like this was still a good beginner’s writing retreat to get my toes wet. I was able to get a lot of writing done, while also learning what works for me when I want to do a big writing session and what doesn’t. I enjoyed this 2-day set up, as I was able to enjoy my “learning” time watching a voice acting class by Nancy Cartwright. I also was able to spend a few hours learning more about marketing, which is something that I am always trying to get better at. So, overall, I think my first attempt went really well. There will definitely be changes in how I go about my next one, though!
I will talk about what I learned from this retreat, and what I would do differently, in Part 3!
Have you done a writing retreat? What worked for you, and what didn’t?