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Should You Go on a Writing Retreat?

Updated: Jan 17, 2020

Should you go on a writing retreat?

That depends on so many factors, including what gets you going and what inspires you to write.

If you’re one of those creatures who has the time, the inclination, the encouragement and the discipline to write right where you are, then perhaps you don’t need to go on a writing retreat.

That’s a serious statement. There really are people out there who can set a schedule and stick to it without crying themselves to sleep over their perceived lack of progress every other evening.

It is possible, though I couldn’t tell you the ratio of such writers to those who struggle a bit more.

Whether you’re the former or the latter is both understandable and acceptable. Just as it’s acceptable to say that you feel most moved to write your best when you’re shut up in a snug hotel room all by yourself… or when you’re surrounded by other writers clacking away at their keyboard.

Is it the sight of crashing waves against the shore that does it for you? Or the sound of crickets in the twilight as you sit on the front porch of a tiny cabin?

There are so many writing sweet-spot possibilities. It’s just a matter of figuring out which one is yours.

Okay. That’s wonderful and all. But should you go on a writing retreat?

I’d love to push you toward a solid “yes” since the upcoming Genuine Writer’s Retreat is set to be every bit as good as last year’s event. But just because it’s going to be inspiring and informative doesn’t mean it’s what’s best for you.

In short, if you’re going to attend a writing retreat, you should make sure it solidly suits you.

Make sure you’re signing up for a good one.
A good writing retreat isn’t just one that gives you proper time, space and motivation to boost your word count. Though clearly those are all important aspects, it doesn’t mean these kinds of events are automatically worth your time and money.
You’ll also want to consider exactly how much money they’re asking from you (some can be extremely expensive), how inspirational the location will or won’t be for you, what they do and do not cover cost-wise, and what presentations they’ll include, if any.

Of those qualifiers, “Can you afford it?” should be the most prominent question. The Genuine Writer’s Retreat tries to stay as low-cost as possible despite its get-your-own-room-at-a-bed-and-breakfast offerings.

But maybe you can legitimately afford more. Or maybe you don’t mind roughing it out in the woods in shared cabin space for less.

The possibilities are open. It’s up to you to narrow it down.

I don’t mean to sound like Smokey the Bear with the segment header above. But there aren’t many more ways to state this very important fact… It really is up to you.

So here’s a quick questionnaire to consider when deciding if you should go on a writing retreat:

1. Can you afford it? A. If you can, keep reading.

B. If you can’t, you’ve got your answer. 2. Do you need extra writing insights or encouragement? A. If you do, keep reading.

B. If you don’t, keep reading – there might still be reason to go. 3. Do you like to just get away to write and relax for kicks and giggles every once in a while? A. If you do, why not go on a writing retreat? Seriously?

B. If you don’t, then perhaps you just need a writing coach. Or you don’t need anything more than you already have.

Whatever ultimate decision you come to, just make sure it’s the right one for you. Don't make the mistake of thinking someone else's idea of an ideal setting is going to be yours as well.

Editor’s Note: Read the next post on writer's retreats here.

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