How to Organize Your Own Writer’s Retreat in 6 Easy Steps

retreat (spiritual)
[ri-treet]
noun
1. the act of withdrawing, as into safety or privacy; retirement; seclusion.
2. a place of refuge, seclusion, or privacy: The library was his retreat.
3. a retirement or a period of retirement for religious exercises and meditation.
4. recreational holiday. In this context retreat means to leave everyday business for a few days (weekend-retreat) up to weeks.

Make room in your life for a retreat. Think it as a gift to yourself – a way to connect with your life vision – or perhaps even a way to finish your book…

YOUR VERY OWN SPECIAL, SAFE, CALMING, CUSTOM-MADE WRITER’S RETREAT

To me a true retreat contains the act of withdrawing from the everyday world, into safety and privacy, and thus provides time to fill with any activities I may need (like relax) or would like (like writing my books), and a time to be silent and reconnect with my soul.

The need for saftey and withdrawal to be able to recharge my batteries and get my creative juices flowing is the reason why I do NOT prefer a retreat where I am surrounded by strangers and that is planned by someone else. A writers’ conference or writers’ workshops – sure, anytime. But I’m a highly sensitive person, and to me, my retreat needs to have less people it and to truly mean withdrawal.

To be able to withdraw from the everyday, to calm down and find time to just be – I’ve decided to conduct MY OWN writer’s retreat. Perfectly custom-made just for me.

If this sounds awesome to you as well – here you go:

A guide to self-planned, self-conducted writer’s retreats

To plan your own retreat, simply answer these six questions: What? Who? Where? When? Why? How? Then go out there, make it happen. ❤

1. Decide WHAT

Decide what kind of retreat you want to conduct. Simply a retreat to reconnect with yourself, with your soul and with your life vision, a time to think and find a calm to reintroduce into your everyday life? Or perhaps you would like a retreat with a writing goal? In case – which goal? If you want to do a self-planned writing retreat, you can easily make it one by setting a writing goal. It might be to write as much as you can on your work in project, it can be to work through a guide for writers improve your writing skills or it can even be retreating to prepare for something related to your writing. I’m seeing this as a retreat to relax before the storm – to gather strength before my crowdfunding campaign and to find my calm before I keep writing – before an autumn with a razor sharp focus on my writing.

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2. Decide WHEN

Set a date. Do it. A retreat can be for one day, a week-end, a week, weeks, months, you name it. My retreat was set for ten days.

If you don’t set a date, you won’t do it. Book the time and make it happen!

3. Decide WHERE

You can do your retreat at HOME or you can go somewhere else.

You can perfectly well retreat in your own home! If you do it at home, I recommend keeping your schedule free, setting time off to be alone, letting your loved ones know in beforehand that you’ll be turning off your phone for a few days. To keep away distractions, I also recommend buying groceries in advance and cleaning / tidying a bit, so you don’t start thinking about your chores when you should be retreating (perhaps even writing!).

If you go away, you may have even fewer distractions. I went away this time at a holiday house with my husband and two very dear friends, who also wanted to retreat and relax. I can wholeheartedly recommend vacation homes, as you have physically, completely withdrawn from your everyday to somewhere where hopefully noone will disturb you. But: YOU have the answer. Some authors retreat to hotels in meteropols. Anywhere YOU can relax and find inner calm is the perfect place to retreat. If possible – retreat to you favourite place.

I bet a place popped into your mind when you started reading about where. Is it doable? Then start planning…

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4. Decide WHO

Will you be retreating alone? With someone? With a group? Perhaps even with a fixed programme for authors, which may, by the way, turn out to be an awesome experience?

If I had been retreating this time to write a novel, I would have gone alone or just with my husband, who can read books for 16 hours daily and who would work on his own projects. I prefer the absolute alone-time when writing.

This time, however, my goal was to calm down and recharge my energy, since I had felt exhausted lately. We chose to go with a befriended couple. I’m glad that we went with someone else, since I shouldn’t spend all time writing – now I had someone very positive around me to sit in the whirlpool with and bake with.

In order to really decide the who and the where will be better for you, you should consider your purpose for retreating:

5. Decide WHY

Describe your purpose closely. Go ahead. I bet you have an idea already.

To make it more precise: What do you want to achieve? Are you going to improve a skill-set, plan a book, finish writing a book, start a new one, finally edit that load of pages? Are you going to work with yourself spiritually? Are you going to recharge and gain new strength and energy?

Your WHY decides who gets to come along and HOW you will want to fill your days…

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6. Decide HOW

You know what kind of retreat you want and you know the purpose. Time to fill it with actual activities for you to conduct.

How can you reach your goal / purpose? What do you need? Go ahead and describe the means that you spontaneously know could help you reach your goal and the material that you would need to bring along or provide.

For instance, I knew that contact with nature would do it for me, both to calm down and to get the creative juices flowing. Do you need that? Put it on your list.

Brainstorm anything you can think of before you narrow it down again to the activities that you decide on doing. When you start narrowing down again, do it with your PURPOSE in mind. Focus on what you want to achieve the most.

A thought on your HOW:

A great retreat needs good food – preferably a mix of your favourite foods, anything you choose that makes you feel good (either in your body, your sould or both;) is allowed. Make sure you get good sleep by bringing whatever you need to make that happen, your pillow or whatever. The sleep and the nourishment needs to be right.

Now for your daily main activities. Plan to achieve the goals you want to achieve (for instance words per day or time to do writing exercise or read a book on what you want to learn). Set aside the time. What a great feeling that you finally have enough TIME to actually do it!

I recommend also planning some daily extra activities that make you MOVE and thus give you more energy, activities that soothes and inspires your mind through for instance NATURE and BEAUTY, and that CALMES you in between the work towards reaching your purpose. To get you started on your brainstorming, here are some ideas:

Ideas for activities by which you MOVE and gain energy:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Biking
  • Yoga
  • Swimming
  • Canooing
  • In-liners
  • Riding
  • Dancing
  • Skiing and sledging (if you plan to stay somewhere close to snow… :D)

Ideas for activities that involve NATURE and BEAUTY

  • Walk outside in the wild nature, use all your senses, breath deeply
    • At beaches or seasides
    • At hills or in the mountains
    • Through forests or across wild fields
  • If there is no “wild nature” close to you, I recommend walking in beautiful parks and botanical gardens.
  • Search the outside for beautiful motives and make photos
  • Put a bouquet of flowers near your desk or sit outside and write
  • Paint or draw, or watch paintings / drawings / art

Ideas for activities that may CALM you

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Silently watching something in the nature (ocean, waves, animals, flowers, birds, clouds, sunset…)
  • Massage
  • Sauna
  • Take a bath
  • Drink calming tea
  • Read a great book (my favourite :D)

STRUCTURE THE HOW

You may want to relax in a daily structure, finding a rhythm that is good for you and for your purpose. Again, go with what works for you.

Here’s an example how I structure my days right now:

Sleeping till I wake up by myself

Moving in the morning: Yoga / Swimming in the pool / A walk outside in the September weather

Big breakfast with the three others

Work and “Spiritual Exercises” in a relaxed tempo: Rereading my life visions and goals, meditating. Time to work – planning my crowdfunding campaign, doing internal work reading about healing and doing the exercises, or simply reading

Break: Eating a snack, some days going to the grocery store

Doing something Creative: Journal / Knit / do Crafts / Bake / Write / Draw

Being a part of Nature: Laying on the grass outside / walking at the seaside / making photos / sitting at the seaside / enjoying the autumn sunset

Big Meal: Evening meal with the three others, taking turns in preparing the meal, eating things like pizza, pasta, chicken curry, stews

Calming the soul: Chilling in the Swimming pool / Whirlpool / Sauna / Talking with the others

Bed time!

However you plan it – do it the way it is right for you! Fill your days with things that calm YOU down and enjoy!

ENJOY YOUR RETREAT!!!
***

SEE ALSO:

Photos From My Writer’s Retreat

Loved this post? Know anyone who could profit from it? I would LOVE it if you would share it!

Have any comments? Would love to hear your thoughts on the topic!

Wishing you a creative, blissful day!

Hugs,

A. J. Lundetræ

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8 thoughts on “How to Organize Your Own Writer’s Retreat in 6 Easy Steps

  1. Pingback: FOTOS from my Writer’s Retreat | Writing fantasy

  2. Ohh thank you for writing this, that’s brilliant advice put together in understandable and concise blocks. I never thought of a retreat in such a way. I think this is like a seed of an idea for organising something for myself in the future. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the comment! So glad you liked it! 😀
    Brilliant! It felt really great and was so easy. You can totally do it – and fill it with your own content. If you try it out, let me know! 😀
    Have a great weekend! 😀

    Like

  4. I love that you mentioned that a retreat can be done totally by yourself. Most people assume it has to be a group activity. For me (being an introverted, loner type anyway!) solitude soothes my soul. I like my own company. I always have. It lets me connect to those little voices inside that it’s all too easy to drown in the rush about of modern existence.

    Lovely post 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for your kind comment, Beverley!
    I must say doing a retreat completely by myself appeals to me as well.
    Yes – it would be a time to connect to yourself, to truly listen to your own heart and inner wisdom.
    Imagine how much writing we might get done! 😀
    *dreaming of the next retreat*

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: 2015 In Retrospect | Writing fantasy

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