Tuesday, May 26, 2015

5 Reasons You Owe Yourself a Writing Retreat

By Zahara Heckscher 


I invented the Writing Staycation five years ago because I wanted a wonderful, affordable, supportive week to write, but I could not go to an out-of-town retreat because of family responsibilities, a four-year-old son.

Ten Staycations later, my son is nine. In April, I was able to go to the Icelandic Writers Retreat and experience a retreat as a participant. Wow: Inspiring speakers, interesting participants, vibrant workshops, and hot tubs heated by geothermal springs.
The experience re-affirmed my belief in the vital importance of writing retreats: the chance for writers to take advantage of events that remove them from the daily buzz of emails, tweets, and inane Facebook posts, and actually focus on writing. Even if there are no hot tubs.

Here are my top reasons for you to consider joining the Writer’s Center’s Writing Staycation (http://tinyurl.com/WriteStay15) or any other writing retreat.

1. You'll have big chunks of time to focus. Let’s face it, 30 minutes here and there only lets you get so deep. When you have big chunks of time at a retreat, you can accomplish grander goals—outlining your whole manuscript, for example. Compiling your complete chapbook. Drafting the first chapter of the book you have had in your mind for ten years. Restructuring the flow of your novel. Reading and editing your whole memoir to get it ready for an agent.

2. You'll strengthen your craft. Most retreats offer classes, presentations, or one-on-one meetings with amazing writers who will give you advice on everything from powering up your sentences to writing cliff-hanger chapters. At the Icelandic Writers retreat, I was inspired by Barbara Kingsolver, Adam Gopnik, and Taiye Selasi. At the Staycation, our lunch speakers and writing coaches have included poet and literary activist Ethelbert Miller and memoirist Daisy Hernandez.

3. You'll gain momentum on your project. One week of focus can give you momentum that lasts way beyond the retreat. You might either get a start that keeps going—or move forward with a project that has been languishing. When you get the fire of writing to burn bright, the flames will continue to generate heat.

4. You'll benefit from accountability. A retreat often creates a community of writers and a strong sense of accountability to your own writing.

5. You have an important story to tell. As the facilitator of the Staycation, I have learned that everyone who walks in the door has a fantastic story—whether the genre is fiction, memoir, nonfiction, or poetry. Retreats can help you gain more trust in the power of your own story – and the time to bring the story to life.

The next Writing Staycation is coming up June 8 to 12, 2015. Hope you can join us. 

Photo:  Author Patrick Ross with Zahara Hecksher. Ross wrote parts of his book Committed: A Memoir of the Artist's Road in the Staycation.

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