Why You Should Attend a Writing Retreat

writing retreats for beginnersThe best way to improve your craft is to immerse yourself in your writing, surround yourself with other artists, and, of course, write, write, write. A writing retreat is a good idea for veteran and novice writers alike. Writing retreats are little getaways during which you’ll write, edit, and share your work with other artists. Think of writing retreats as destination writing workshops. Your sole purpose for the retreat is to create: maybe you’ll focus on finish your book, editing a current draft, or developing a new project altogether. This is why retreats are so perfect for new writers. Writing retreats for beginners provides much-needed space and time to let ideas, plot lines, characters, and creativity flourish. It’s a chance to escape the everyday mundanities of life and focus solely on your book.

What is a Writing Retreat? Are There Writing Retreats for Beginners?

A writing retreat is a chance to immerse yourself in your writing. Writing retreats take place all over the world – across the United States, throughout Europe, Asia, etc. Wherever your interest leads you, there’s likely a writing retreat located nearby. They’re usually a weekend or week-long trip, during which you’ll have long chunks of time to draft, rewrite, edit, or begin an entirely new project.

Writing retreats are different from workshops and conventions in one major way: there usually aren’t classes during retreats. A lot of the time during writing retreats is spent alone. This unstructured writing time places a lot of responsibility on the writer. It’s up to you to stay on track with your project.

Other writers will attend your retreat as well, and you may have time set aside in the evenings to reconvene with them. You all may share what you’ve created that day, gaining insight and suggested edits from one another.

Writing retreats are for anyone who wants to write. You could create and go on your own writing retreat, if the price of an established retreat is too much for you. All you need is a new space – maybe this is a cabin in the woods or a farmhouse or a bungalow on the beach – and some time alone.

Who Goes on Retreats?

Any writer can attend a writing retreat! Most have an application process, at which point you’ll submit a writing sample. Some are simply first come first serve. There will be some kind of deposit paid at the time of registration to hold your spot in the program. Many offer single room options, or, if you’re a social butterfly, you can sign up to have a roommate.

Writing Retreats For Beginners

Here are just a few examples of writing retreats:

  • Elephant Rock Retreats: Elephant Rock offers several writing retreats, and all are new-writer friendly. They offer a Summer Solstice retreat, located at Stout’s Island Lodge, Wisconsin, in addition to a women-only retreat in November at Naniboujou Resort at Lake Superior. If taking a vacation doesn’t work into your busy schedule, they also offer a remote retreat. All are perfect writing retreats for beginners.
  • Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Retreat: This is a popular one for fiction writers, located in the picturesque Colorado Springs, Colorado. It’s already sold out for 2019, but keep an eye on it’s 2020 dates.
  • Interlochen Writers Retreat: Hosted by the Interlochen Center for the Arts, this retreat offers different courses for different aspects of the writing process, from plot to inspiration to place. View this year’s options here.

Each retreat will be different and special in its own way. If you’re able, going on a writing retreat once a year is a great way to reboot and refresh both your creativity and your energy.

Get the Most Out of Your Time at a Retreat

Writing retreats for beginners can be a very productive experience, if you know how to best maximize your time and energy.

Go with a goal in mind.

It’s easier to be productive when you know what you’re doing. Set out with an intention in mind. Maybe your intention is to finish a draft of your novel. Maybe it’s to draft a new collection of stories or poems. Or maybe it’s to edit an almost-finished project. If you set a specific goal in mind, you’re more likely to achieve that goal.

Get feedback from the other writers.

You aren’t alone on this retreat. Use your connections! The other attendees are there for the same reason you are: to complete something, to make your writing better. Sometimes all you need is a fresh pair of eyes or a different point of view on your work.

Experience the location.

Writing retreats are located in some of the most beautiful locations. Spend some time experiencing the location you’ve chosen, whether this is a lush forest, sandy beach, or quiet lakefront. You may find yourself inspired by your surroundings.

Take breaks.

Whether your retreat is a weeklong or just a weekend, be sure you aren’t pushing yourself too hard. Taking breaks is so necessary as a writer. Writing isn’t physical labor, but it is mental labor. Give yourself little breaks throughout your writing retreat, whether this is by taking walks around the campsite, swimming in the lake or ocean, or going on hikes with your fellow writers. Your brain will be grateful for the respite, and you may find your creativity renewed.

Get to know the other writers.

Make friends! Have fun! These people could be your writing friends for life, your new go-to beta readers and proofreaders.

Whether you choose an adventurous locale or the peace and quiet of your own home, writing retreats for beginners present wonderful opportunities to deepen your understanding of your craft. Take advantage of the time set aside to do one thing and one thing only: write.