How To Plan A Mini Writers Retreat
Not every writer can afford to attend a major writer’s
conference or retreat. But you don’t have to go far, just step away from your
daily routine, away from the telephone, the chores, and carpooling the kids so
you can focus on your writing. If you can’t get away from work or the family
for a week-long retreat, how about a day or two? If you can’t find such an
event in your area then plan one yourself.
But, how do I plan A mini writers retreat, you ask? Start by asking your writer’s group or a few writer friends if they are interested in getting away for a weekend, or even a Saturday, to focus on their writing in a new environment with a few like-minded scribes.
Choose a place within easy driving distance so you’re not using valuable weekend time getting to and from. Rent a beach cottage or a cabin in the woods, or a block of hotel rooms. Many state parks rent affordable cabins. Whatever facility you choose, private rooms for each person with a desk or table for writing is a must. Other necessaries are a large enough room for the group to gather, a kitchen if you plan to cook meals, and a tranquil environment. Another option can be a “day camp” with participants spending the night at home and coming to a central location for a full day of writing and workshops.
Once you’ve picked the time and place the next order of business is deciding what you want to gain from the retreat. You may want to pick a theme. Is your group made up of romance writers, Christian writers, mystery writers? Or do you want to focus on one particular element of writing? Using your senses, writing better dialog, or maybe you want to hon your query writing skills.
In addition to writing and social time you may want to have one or two workshops in keeping with your theme. If you know a published author he or she may be willing to visit long enough to share their experiences for a small fee or for a meal and the opportunity to promote and sell their books.
The weekend can also include time for group prompt writing sessions and for critiquing. Still, a good part of free time needs to be scheduled so participants can work on personal projects, or explore the scenery and let the muse speak to them. On the other hand your participant may just want to enjoy a casual weekend of private writing and socializing.
Feeding the group can be as simple as going out for meals, cooking “at home” if you are staying in a cabin or cottage with everyone chipping in on the groceries. You can also have meals delivered and include the cost in the registration fee. If it is a day camp or one day retreat everyone can bring their own bag lunch.
The biggest part of planning is dealing with the cost of the retreat. Work out a budget that will include lodging, meals, and speaker fees. Post a deadline for collecting the registration fees far enough in advance of the retreat date to make reservations. You must have a commitment from each person so you’re not left holding the bag.
When people arrive give them time to settle in their rooms before gathering in a central location for a welcome session. Prepare a pocket folder for each person with the schedule, a bio page of each speaker, brochures of nearby points of interest, and if there will be participants other than your regular writer’s group members provide name tags. Go over the schedule and see if anyone has questions and enjoy your mini retreat.