As Justine told you last week, the 8 ladies converged on Arizona for a writers’ retreat this past weekend. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a big fan of writers’ retreats, as I posted here and here. This particular one was super special as I had only met two of the other ladies in person before this week, so this was my chance to meet and hang out with and just generally enjoy the time with the whole 8LW crew (including Michaeline via the magic of the interwebs!). But whether I’m retreating with the ladies or my small critique group or my larger (former) writing group, wonderful things happen at these get-togethers. Today I’m sharing my favorite ones.
5. Binging on snacks/wine/decadent things of choice. Okay, maybe indulging sounds better, but whatever – this is what happens when you bring together writers and chocolate and coffee and wine in an atmosphere where calories don’t count. Don’t judge us – this writing gig is hard work and we need to fuel our brains. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.
4. Burrowing into imaginary worlds. One of the toughest things about the writing life is the life part. As much as we want to lose ourselves in our stories and leave behind all the responsibilities of real life, spouses, kids, bosses, and pets have different ideas for our time. And that’s the way it should be. Without life experiences to draw on, a writer would quickly run out of story material (and money and companionship and love). But being able to escape real life for a short time and burrow into the imaginary worlds of our stories is a beautiful thing.
3. Boosting creativity. When I’m in a room or on a patio or in the woods with other writers, even when we’re all heads down over our own computers and typing away at the keys, I feel inspired. Maybe it’s fueled by a sense of competition, or guilt, or just the good writing mojo floating around in the air, but if the people around me are writing, I want to do it, too! That sense of wanting to create more and better and faster tends to stay with me for days or even weeks after communing with fellow travelers on this writing road.
2. Brainstorming story problems. For a lot of writers, ideas come easily. But taking an idea from a big, overarching concept to a finished, cohesive, readable (and hopefully loveable) story is a long, hard slog. We make wrong turns, get bogged down, and sometimes just need a helping hand or a rope to grab. That’s where fellow writers are invaluable, and among our group, we’ve brainstormed via virtual bulletin boards, Dropbox, and Skype. But there really is something magical about sitting face-to-face with writing buddies over a glass of wine/beverage of choice and snacks, and hashing out the problems. Some of the ladies got great ideas and solved manuscript problems they’d had for days or weeks or longer (I’m sure you’ll hear more about this over the next week or so).
This kind of collaboration doesn’t just help the writer with her issue. Stretching our brains to mull over other peoples’ stories sparks a different kind of creative energy that carries over into our own work.
1. Bonding with fab friends. Not all writers are social creatures, and probably the majority of us are actually introverts, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want (or need!) social interaction. A writers’ retreat is the perfect way to draw us out of our solitary writer caves and
force allow us to interact like normal people. I’ll admit, I’m spoiled. These ladies aren’t just great writers, they’re fun people and fabulous friends. I’ll take any opportunity to share wine, talk story, and just hang out with some of my favorite writers (and people) in the world.
If you have a writers’ group, writing classmates, or critique partners, I hope you’ll be able to attend or host a writers’ retreat of your own. I really can’t recommend it enough. In fact, I love it so much, I’m doing it again next week! Different state (snowy Maryland instead of sunny Arizona), different writers, same love of camaraderie and story and this crazy writing life. So while I’m preparing for that, I wish you all a week of creativity and happy writing!