writers retreat

Why Is It Important For Authors To Take A Retreat?

Being a writer in the current generation is quite stress-free and straightforward. From editing to distributing your books, you can leave all the worries to your book publisher, just sit back and write your heart out.  However, that being said, the art of writing itself is not exactly an easy job. A writer has to battle a number of roadblocks on his path to writing out a good manuscript, starting with writer’s block, á world of distractions,,  difficulties in balancing between a day job and writing, and all these rendering the writer unable to keep to deadlines and such.

If you are a writer, you can very well associate with these issues. While there are a plenty of ways to overcome your writer’s block, one of the best ways to handle any and all writer issues is to take a week-long writer’s retreat. Yes, you heard it right; shut your outside world out and go on a writing vacation.

Retreats are self-designed by individuals for achieving their personal goals. It can be anything ranging from finishing a short story for a competition to proofreading your own novel. Apart from writers, even editors take retreats to finish editing the books that they have committed to editing.

If you are an author who is looking to understand how a retreat can be helpful and important for you and your writing, here are a few reasons why you must immediately reach out for your travel bag and begin making plans..

  1. It gives a change in environment – Isn’t that obvious?

Are you bored of sitting in your study every day? Does writing 2000 words every day feel mundane? That really has nothing to do with you or what you are writing. It’s only natural for creative individuals to feel uninspired without new or exciting external stimuli to power their ideas. When you check yourself into a hotel or lodging in a place completely different or away from your current comfort zone,  you will feel more productive and inspired to write. A change in the environment always brings in positivity and creativity to your mind.

Also, read our blog on Crazy Rituals of Famous Authors.

  1. The new environment aids in improving your plot

You know what is more interesting than a writer’s retreat? Taking the retreat to a place your story is based on. For example, if your story is about the Vijayanagara empire, then take a trip to the ruins of Hampi. If you are writing a novel where the protagonists live in Goa, go ahead and have a retreat in Goa. By doing so, you will not only have a change of environment, but you will also get to know more about the place you are setting your story in. As a writer, it gives you more material to describe your scene and setting better.

  1. You get to meet fellow writers

Most of your friends would have different jobs, and the only way you get to befriend writers would be via social media. However, if you go for a group retreat you will get to connect with a lot of other writers on a personal level.  This is more important that you think because when you meet fellow writers, you can relate with them on so many levels and maybe even find solutions for your own creative problems. Imagine waking up in a lovely cottage room, sitting close to nature, conversing with other writers, writing your novel, and discussing literature. Isn’t that an exciting experience?

  1. You can unwind yourself

One of the biggest distractions for any professional is the social media. While social media is important for marketing and distributing your book at the stage of crafting your novel, you might have to stay away from it more often than not to be more productive. Some authors find social media inspirational. However, many people feel it as a distraction. It can be tedious if you have to stay away from social media on a day-to-day basis. However, if you are taking a retreat, you can make sure that you unwind from all forms of social media. In fact, going back to old school and typing your story out can also be an amazing way to finish your long-pending novel.

  1. It is a constructive escapism

We all love our family, children, and job. However, if you are a writer, you might agree to the fact that escaping from all the responsibilities and sentiments for a short while to give one’s 100 per cent to the book they are  writing is a good idea. A week-long retreat will help you do the same without causing any issues.

So, now that you know the advantages of going on a writer’s retreats, you might now be wondering how you can organise one. In most western countries, retreats are a familiar concept, and there will be one or another that you might be interested in joining at any given point of time. However, that’s not the case with our country. India is gradually catching up with the west on these aspects. Many authors organise retreats now and then. You just have to watch out for such announcements. Alternatively, you can host your own retreat. Here are some of the ways to plan and organise a good writer’s retreat.

  1. Set a budget

Budget is not the primary concern, but it makes sense to set one beforehand, even before deciding the location or dates. Do some background research and finalise an approximate budget for the retreat. When you are planning to go with more than one person, the budget should be decided by keeping everyone in mind.

  1. Choose a feasible date and place

The first thing you must decide when it comes to planning a retreat is to pick the dates and place. It is useful to choose dates around public holidays or weekends so that it is feasible for everyone to make it. While finalising on a place, go for a place that is well-connected. You can opt foroffbeat places, but you must just make sure that the place you choose is close to a big city, for example, Hampi, which is close to Bangalore or Pondicherry, which is closer to Chennai.. This way, people can take flights to the metro cities and then reach the venue via road.

  1. Create a schedule

If you are planning a solo getaway, creating a schedule can be really easy. However, for group retreats, you must make sure that your schedule is feasible and interesting for everyone. To do that, one of the first things that you must do is make a schedule that gives everyone an ample amount of time to do their own writing and at the same time be part of some interesting sessions. A good retreat schedule should include a bit of everything – workshop, seminar, games, etc. Also, try to involve other writers while planning.

If you have a non-fiction writer on your team, he can arrange a session on “the art of writing of non-fiction”. Similarly, a person with experience in self-publishing can share with the other writers about the “benefits of self-publishing.”

  1. Book well in advance

No matter whether it is a solo retreat or a group retreat, book the tickets well in advance. Planning a retreat with a lot of people could be exhausting. However, when you have a schedule in place you can simply send it across to interested writers and get it booked.

Many hotels and portals will have bulk booking discounts, and some cafes in many cities are writer-friendly. Look out for such cafes and places to host your events to have a change of environment from your hotel premises.

  1. Co-ordinate!

As it’s commonly said, a trip plan is never complete without a WhatsApp group. Start a group, and co-ordinate! This will also act as a way to get to know the writers more personally.

  1. Have a challenge!

Yes, writing challenges are the best way to bring out that stalled WIP (Works-in-Progress) and finish them. Set a target at the beginning of the trip. This can be a personal target, a group target, or customised individual targets. Keep the targets recorded and constantly check on each other’s progress during the retreat.

  1. Club it with a literature festival if possible

Many cities host literature festivals. Try to club your retreat with an upcoming lit fest. This way, the writers can attend the various sessions of their choice. Also, attending workshops or discussions of bestseller writers and literature gurus can be a great inspiration to budding writers.

Now that you know how to plan a good retreat, one thing that you might think about is the length of the retreat. Depending on your needs and wants you can take a retreat for a couple of days or a couple of weeks. However, an efficient retreat is something that lasts for at least a week.

Are you looking to mingle with other writers or book lovers to go on a retreat? You can join one of these book clubs and connect with like-minded people:

So, have you been on a writers’ retreat? How long was it? What did you learn or unlearn? Share your experience with us in the comments below.

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Aishwarya Mukundarajan

Aishwarya is an MBA graduate from Symbiosis International University, Pune. When asked what her hobbies are she points to an overflowing bookcase.

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