Showing posts with label writing retreats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing retreats. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Writing Retreat Part Two

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about planning a writing retreat. Last Saturday, the writing retreat was held. Several members of the writers group I belong to attended.

It was very simple. Time was spent writing and researching. We met for breakfast and lunch at a restaurant in the designated retreat area and then dispersed. Some worked in groups, some worked alone. The weather was nice, except for a mid-afternoon thunderstorm. As the hostess, I waited it out, in case anyone else arrived. Everyone else in the group had gone home before the storm hit.

The location was convenient. We were able to move about on foot, enjoying the weather and people watching. Work areas were abundant, but most used the public library and a restaurant as places to write and or research. I spent some time on a bench outside, watching a family play in a water fountain. I also went for a walk.

The retreat lasted for several hours. Perhaps next time it will be longer. Dinner might be an option. Maybe dinner and a movie, as there is a theater nearby. It could be shorter, but mid-afternoon might be a nice ending time.

What goals did we accomplish? Everyone was able to get something done and all felt it was a great way to get away from the responsibilities of home and work and concentrate on writing. We agreed to do this again.

I did not keep track of how much time I wrote. Everyone spent time outside and inside writing, talking and eating. There were no rules, other than to try to avoid social media, email and phone calls.

As far as social activities, we spent time talking in small groups. This occurred at breakfast and lunch. It was a great way to discuss whatever topic we wanted to talk about.

Some people brought laptops, others had paper and pens. I placed three notebooks and a book on the craft of writing in a tote bag. I wanted to be computer free for the day. I did not miss my laptop or my e-reader!

Everyone dressed casually and for comfort. Some wore jogging suits, although I don’t think anyone did any jogging! I wore one of my writing-themed t shirts. I often get compliments and funny comments from others when I wear them.

The day went well, except for the thunderstorm, but the sunshine, blue skies and comfortable temperature made up for it. The time our writers group spent together and individually was productive and planning the event was worth the effort. We look forward to our next writing retreat.

Have you attended a writing retreat? What did you find to be the most helpful? If you have yet to attend one, I hope you are able to do so in the near future.

Happy writing!

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is working on her first children’s book.




Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Planning a Writing Retreat

I have written about writing retreats here in the past. Last month, I was on vacation and made that into sort of a writing retreat, but since I can’t do that again for awhile, I started thinking about other things I could do instead. And then it came to me: a one day writing retreat for my local writers group. I suggested the idea to them and was asked to start planning something.

For this first time out (maybe it could become an annual event), we are going to stay in town to keep costs low. I picked a part of town where there are restaurants, outdoor seating areas, a walking trail, public library, hotel and a university. Plenty of places to use for a day-long or half-day writing retreat.

The first thing I did was to make a list of things that might be important to a group of writers. This list by no means is complete. There may be other things that are important to you or to your group. You may use my list and add to it. Perhaps brainstorm with some other writers.

  • Goals – What do you want to get from the retreat? Write a chapter of your novel? Complete a book? Start a book? Write an article? Try out some new writing prompts.
  • Location – Do you want to stay local or go out of town? If spending at least one night away from home, where might the group want to stay? Hotel, bed and breakfast, cabin by a lake?
  • Length – Will it be for one day, a weekend, a week or longer? What about a particular day, week or month?
  • Writing time – How long do you want to write? Maybe the entire retreat, half of it, a few hours a day? Are there other things you would like to do besides writing during the retreat?
  • Work area – Will you be sharing your work area or will you be working alone? Indoors, outdoors, table, bench, library, café. Are there a number of cafes on the street or neighborhood where you plan to go? Try café-hopping while you write.
  • Social activities – What other activities and sites are available? Walking trails, shopping, museums, theaters or spas might be nearby. Get some exercise, do something besides writing, relax, have fun.
  • Meals – Will you eat together as a group or separately? Share the cooking, dine at restaurants, pack a picnic lunch, have some snacks. And don’t forget beverages, including wine.
  • Writing kit – What do you need to bring with you to help you write and to provide inspiration? A tote bag filled with items such as notebooks and pens, laptop, books, magazines, photos/art, music, etc.
  • Conversation – What will the group talk about? Bring a book on the craft of writing to discuss, an experience you want to share, suggestions on how to overcome writers block.
  • Online or offline – Will you forgo email and social media? It might be ok to do some research for the book or article you are working on, but for most of the retreat, try to stay away from the internet.
  • Types of clothing - What kinds of clothing do you want to wear/pack? If you wear a literary or writing t-shirt when writing, would that make you work harder? Perhaps it’s a shirt you got at a writing conference, ordered from NaNoWriMo or purchased from another source. You might get some compliments and comments on it when you are out and about!

I have a kit which I will use during the planning and at the retreat. The Writer’s Retreat Kit: A Guide for Creative Exploration & Personal Expression by Judy Reeves is a boxed set of cards and a book. This set covers the planning of retreats and includes lists of writing prompts. It’s full of ideas that writers will find useful, whether the retreat is far away or at home.

What would you like to do on a writing retreat? Have you been on a retreat? If so, what did you do? Feel free to share your ideas and experiences here.

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is working on her first children’s book.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Write on Your Summer Vacation

Summer is almost here and I have vacation on my mind. This trip is also my annual writing retreat. I chose the accommodations and I will have the freedom to roam about town.

Sitting around on park benches and hanging out at outdoor cafes allows me to people watch. There might be a ballgame or concert going on at the park. Maybe an artist will be painting a local scene.

I can visit museums and shop at stores. I might see an object that starts telling me a story. Maybe it’s an antique, something that was well loved by someone long ago. Perhaps it’s a piece of art or a photograph that speaks to me.

In the evening, when it’s cooler, I may go for a walk. I might see historic houses and wonder who used to live in them. Perhaps I will watch the birds move about, searching for food and flying back to their nests.

I may meet some interesting people. One year on vacation, I met a mystery writer. He was working on his latest creation at the inn where I was staying. On another trip, I was able to chat with a children’s author. She was selling her new book at a local festival.

When you plan your summer vacation, think of  it as an opportunity to be inspired, to write about what you see and do each day.

What plans are you making for this summer?

Whatever you decide to do, have fun and good luck with your writing!

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is working on her first children’s book.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Taking Time Out!

By "time out," I mean taking time "out" and perhaps even outside.

This weekend I have taken myself "out," for a private writers retreat.
For most of us, writing is a passion, it's what keeps us happy,
but it's a full time or part time job that keeps us in a home with food on the table.

Juggling writing with family and work is always a challenge,
and at a certain point you may find that taking time out might benefit you. 

I find retreating really helpful when I've completed a manuscript and need some time for heavy duty revision. I may also retreat  when I'm feeling blocked and need to force my seat in the chair for a period of time.

Here are some guidelines to getting the most from your writers retreat:

Finding the spot for your writers retreat.

I generally find that cabins in the woods or on lakes work really well for me. 

1. You will most times bring in your own food, which means that you will not be distracted by where to eat. 

2.  I find these places quiet, which also helps with limiting distractions. 

3. A walk along the shore or on a deserted path creates a great "head" writing opportunity. 

Cabins are not the only places that writers may find to retreat to. Many authors use hotels or motels as places to disappear to and work. 

Where doesn't work? I find it challenging to use my home, even when the rest of the family is gone, because there is always something that can be and should be done. Remember distraction is your enemy.

All work and no play?

You may find, like myself, that you accomplish so much that taking the time for a walk only makes you more creative. I find my fingers fairly flying across the keyboard when I return from a stroll. 

1. Plan your writing/editing/revising time.
2. Plan your creative building time - otherwise known as walks, and/or hot baths.

So this year, plan your own retreat and get "out."


Currently, D. Jean is retreating to work on her latest women's fiction novel about reincarnation.

She is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Flight from the Water Planet, Book 1 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. 

The Mermaid, her award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.  

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at

You can also follower her at or on Facebook

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Writing Retreats

Is there a particular place you like to go to write? It could be a room in your home or somewhere outside.  Perhaps it is in the area you live.  Maybe it’s a distance away, like a vacation destination.

Are there times when you just can’t write for whatever reason? Maybe life was busy (Mine was this month and that’s why this blog post is so short!) and you haven’t had the time or inclination to sit down and write.

I have a special place, it’s a vacation destination, where I can relax and feel inspired.  I can sit by the water or in a park or in an historic inn. I can go for a walk on a trail or through the business district or around residential neighborhoods.

I just returned from a place that I like to visit. I packed my laptop and a tote bag. I filled the bag with some photos I cut out of magazines, a few issues of The Writer magazine, a book that I am reading, and three notebooks. 

I have some other ideas for the next time I do this. I’m going to include some chocolate, perhaps one of my favorite brands of root beer or sparkling grape juice. While on vacation, I purchased a basket that I can use as a travel desk. It’s actually a carrier for casseroles, but I think it would hold writing materials too.

Here is something you can use for inspiration when thinking about a writing retreat. I recently found this website and it’s fun to dream! Check it out!

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is currently working on her first children’s book.

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