Taking a Mini-Writing Retreat
Why a Mini-Writing Retreat?
Sometimes you just need a break.
The word retreat is defined by Merriam-Webster as the “act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable.” And one way Dictionary.com defines retreat as “the act of withdrawing, as into safety or privacy; retirement; seclusion.” For most of us, the mundane day-to-day isn’t necessarily fraught with danger, but it can come to feel difficult and even disagreeable at times. It can also feel like being in a rut or like we are being bombarded with everything all at once with no chance to slow down and take a breath.
So, taking a break, even a small one, can be a great way to reset.
A mini-writing retreat can get our writing restarted or give us just the boost we need to get over the hump of a writing slog, or provide the opportunity for our refreshed minds to refocus and find just the right solution for that terrible tangle in the plot.
My Mini-Writing Retreat
In February, I took a short break from the day-to-day and spent a couple of days decompressing and writing in San Diego. I decided to use the time as a mini-writing retreat.
During my mini-writing retreat, I spent time exploring the shops along Highway 101, walking on the beach, watching the sunset, eating yummy food, sitting outside in the garden and, of course, writing.
I needed the recharge and reset more than I knew. While I saved and planned for this particular trip for some time and enjoyed it immensely. However, I can’t always expend the time and money for a trip to the beach for a mini-writing retreat.
I do most of my writing, and my book coaching work, in my home. And while I use my desktop for zoom meetings, editing and book coaching work, when I write, I like to relocate to the living room with my laptop. That said, sometimes a greater change of environment is necessary to get my brain more fully engaged.
Low-cost mini-writing retreat ideas:
Coffee shop co-writing with a buddy: I have a writing friend I enjoy spending time with writing at a local coffee shop. We meet up, chat for a few minutes about what we are writing and then we sit at a table and write. We always make sure to buy something to support the venue!
Nature hike with writing time: There are some great places in and around the Phoenix valley where I can go and wander through nature that also have food and/or seating areas where I can sit and write.
Library writing time: Sometimes, I just like the idea of being surrounded by rows and rows of books. All those stories! And mine with the potential to sit on the shelf beside them! Also, I like to peek at the shelves and see if my books are there or checked out. 🙂
There is plenty of scientific evidence to support the idea that such mini-writing retreats are great for revving up our creativity and increase productivity.
According to Annie Murphy Paul, author of The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain, taking a mini-writing retreat such as the ones outlined in these examples can improve our thinking in powerful ways.
For example, co-writing with a buddy is a way to engage in a form of thinking with our peers. Though, the coffeeshop might not be the best location for this activity, due to the potential distractions in such an environment. However, a quiet corner out of the way where we are technically mirroring one another in the act of writing can move us to be more productive.
Natural settings help us to “think better by enhancing our ability to maintain our focus on the task in front of us” because nature provides a respite from the cognitive demands of urban living.
And being surrounded by the “built environment” of a library with the sights and smells of literature is an example, at least for me, of working in an enriched space. One wherein the setting reflects back to me the richness of the written word and the potential of my stories to become accessible to others, if only I can get them written!
When your writing feels bogged down or your story stalls, a mini-writing retreat could be just what you need to get you moving again!
Interested in what I write on my mini-writing retreats? Check out my books!