Now, when I say “Writers: Get Away!” I don’t mean from me! (Anyone who follows me on social media knows I love connecting with fellow writers.) Rather, I believe that writers who truly want to achieve their dream of publishing a book should retreat from their day-to-day routines every once in a while.
I do this. Not only do I regularly escape to a lovely cottage in the Berkshires to focus on my authors’ manuscripts, but I also need to spirit away to another environment to really dig into my writing. I just did this to finish up a draft of my book. Getting away from it all let me decompress, laser focus on my project and seize the inspiration I needed.
Here are 3 reasons why serious writers should retreat to write their books:
1. Location, location, location.
You know how it was always next to impossible to write a paper in your college dorm room — the same place with your laundry, your dirty dishes and your projects from other classes — but was much easier in the peaceful library? It’s the same idea with a writing retreat. When you set your mind to going to a specific new location exclusively for writing, that place almost becomes magical. Your writing location is concrete proof that you are on your way to finishing your book.
Try this: Are you writing a novel set in the mountains? See if you can get away to a relative’s rustic cabin. Or, do you crave an exciting plunge into city life? Try settling in at a boutique hotel in a big city for a weekend. Head to a cafe and let the hustle and bustle inspire your scenes.
2. The Ticking Time Clock.
One of the things about our day-to-day routines that can really weigh down the writing process is how mundane it can feel. The cycle of getting up and struggling to squeeze in the writing time you need can add stress to your project.
When you set your mind to retreating, you’re essentially committing to writing for a short time. If you can afford to get away for two weeks, wonderful. But, even if you can only escape for a 3-day weekend, that time crunch can be the boost you need to write as much as you can in the time before you need to check out.
Try this: To maximize the amount of writing you get done (or the goals you accomplish) in the time span of your retreat, make a list of exactly what you want to accomplish before you leave. That way, when you sit down at your desk, you already have a clear picture of precisely what you should achieve.
If you’re still worried about getting writer’s block while away, try this method: Set the timer on your phone for 30 minutes. Write. When the timer goes off, set the timer for a 10-minute rest. Repeat.
3. Your Tribe Is Your Greatest Source of Support.
Many writers I know prefer to be alone when they retreat. That’s perfectly fine. But, particularly for first-time novelists, it can be invaluable to congregate with other writers and editors in between sessions of private writing time. Especially if you find yourself asking a lot of questions when you’re trying to write in your day-to-day life (“Do I have any plot holes?” “Are my antagonist’s motives strong enough?” “Is my story idea original?”) retreats with other writers can be an invigorating and informative boost.
Try this: Enlist a writing friend or two to accompany you on your retreat. Or — better yet — find a group writing retreat led by an experienced writing coach.
I know how difficult it can be for aspiring novelists to really find the time and space to sit down and finish their books. That’s why I’m excited to announce a special upcoming retreat for novelists: