Many writers daydream about getting away from it all so they can spend focused time writing—no interruptions, no responsibilities—just writing for hours at a time. Often making that daydream a reality seems hard:
- That memoir workshop in Ireland sounds wonderful, but who has that kind of money?
- Places like Ragdale have a rigorous juried application process. Most writers won’t be awarded a residency.
- Getting away for a week isn’t realistic for writers with day jobs and/or significant family responsibilities.
- Attending professionally run writers workshop and retreats can trigger an attack of insecurity (I’m not as talented as all of those other writers. What if the people are cliquish and pretentious and I don’t fit in?)
Invent the Retreat That Fits Your Life
Several months ago, the writers group I belong to began brainstorming how we could put together our own writers retreat, and we had the following criteria:
- We wanted a long weekend away instead of week-long retreat.
- The location had to be affordable.
- We wanted a place within an hour or two of the Twin Cities, so we wouldn’t spend too much of our precious time driving there and back.
- Each of us wanted her own room, and ideally, the place would have a kitchen and some communal areas. Staying in your room all day and all night could get claustrophobic. Having a place to walk would also be good.
After doing some Internet research, we found that retreat centers would be better than motels or condos, because they are more peaceful, less expensive, and often have kitchens. The Anderson Center in Red Wing, Minnesota met our specs and had an opening on one of the weekends we wanted to get away.
Talk About Expectations and Set Ground Rules
We have been part of the same group for more than a decade. We like and respect each other, but we wanted to avoid some obvious pitfalls if we could. Our discussions led to these guidelines:
- This is NOT a girls’ weekend. If we’re too social, it will defeat the purpose of being on a retreat—getting the solitude to be creative.
- We’ll eat dinner together both nights, but aside from that, there’s no need to socialize.
- Each woman will set her own goals, which could be writing, revising, napping, reading, walking, daydreaming—whatever each person needs.
- We’ll go out for dinner one night and cook one night. For breakfast and lunch, you’re on your own.
We’re excited, but we’ve never tried this before. Wish us luck!