I’ve been waiting all year for late July, because it meant a trip to Colorado with many other YA Highway members for a writing retreat! Last week was really special, because I got to see some of my favorite girls in the world AND I managed to add about 10,000 good words to my WiP. We had a great time, and managed to be crazy productive, so I thought I’d share how we set up the retreat, and what we did there to keep ourselves motivated, in case you are planning or attending a retreat in the near future (which I totally recommend).
Be sure to bring:
- Chargers for everything electronic
- The writer’s uniform (yoga pants, comfy T-shirts)
- A plan for who will cook what meals, on what days (doesn’t have to be a rigid schedule, just something to get an idea of what grocery shopping should be done and what dietary restrictions might come into play with your group)
- Any books you want to share
We used VRBO.com to find a fantastic cabin in Colorado, a central location for everyone. We organized everyone’s arrival and departure times by using a shared Google Doc, and that way we only had to rent one car for the week. (Rental cars are expensive, yo.)
We planned it from Friday to Wednesday to take advantage of a weekend, but definitely ate into some vacation time. It was well worth it, though, because at least one full day was spent catching up with one another, and admiring the truly bizarre lodge art that filled our rental space. Evidence:
I took to calling him “The Statesman.”
DISCO DUCK (.gif pending)
The first morning, after we made ourselves breakfast with lots and lots of coffee, we all gathered around to write. To make sure we resisted the urge to chat, we set a timer for dedicated writing time. Most of the time we set aside hour-long chunks. (I downloaded Howler Timer for my Mac, which makes [as you might've guessed] a wolf howling sound instead of a buzzer. I took much enjoyment from it and recommend it highly.)
Moose hat optional, but encouraged.
We took breaks for lunch, but most of the late morning and afternoon was spent working individually. Eventually we spread all over the house, with people writing anywhere they felt inspired.
The Goofing Off
Toward the end of the day, most of us were a little creatively spent. We gathered around to make dinner, and to unwind for the day and chat. At times, chatting long into the night… or early morning1. Talking, drawing, getting silly, playing the Twilight Commentary Drinking Game2—all of these things recharged our creative batteries, and were just basically a blast.
Photo taken by Kate Hart
It can be tempting to stay inside like, the entire time. Especially when the words are flowing. But if you’ve gone to a destination retreat, you’re missing out on a big part of the reason you traveled somewhere outside your living room. I don’t regret the handful of hours spent exploring the small town nearby, hiking, or just sitting on the porch appreciating the wonderful view. Evidence:
Photo taken by Kate Hart.
So that’s my advice! But what about you?? Have you done a writer’s retreat before? Anything I missed? Anyplace in particular you’d recommend to reach maximum word count? Are you planning on going to a retreat anytime in the future? Do you have a moose hat to bring??