I’ve always wanted to go away for a writing retreat. Doesn’t it sound wonderfully creative and fun? But the truth is that a writing retreat is not an option for me. I haven’t found any that interest me within my preferred price range. Maybe some day this might be possible. Plus, if I’m going to spend money on a hotel or a cabin nestled in a forest or mountains, I’d want my husband to come along. I decided to create my own writing retreat at home. I scheduled the writing retreat for a day when my husband would be out of town and took a day of vacation from work. (It also helped that there are no children afoot.)
I held my at-home writing retreat in late 2019 before the global pandemic.
To avoid distractions, I cleared my schedule. I didn’t want to have an excuse to stop writing, so I handled household chores, grocery shopping and errands ahead of the scheduled writing retreat. It wasn’t easy because I had to tag on extra hours at the end of each workday over the course of one week to get everything accomplished, but it ended up being worth it.
I made sure I had healthy snacks, fruit and tea on hand. I also prepared a slow cooker meal (Greek lemon chicken with potatoes) early on the morning of the writing retreat. I didn’t want to take time away from my writing by having to figure out lunch during the day. Having lunch and dinner ready was the best decision for me.
I decided what time to start and end the retreat. For me, the best decision was to start at 7:00 AM and end at 4:00 PM. Though you could easily start your at-home writing retreat later, especially if you prefer exercising first thing in the morning.
To stay focused and motivated, I wrote out my retreat goals. My goals were:
- Write (I didn’t set a word count).
- Research a particular subject for my story.
- Listen to specific podcast episodes.
- Work on editing a specific section of my manuscript.
- Organize my writing project e-folders.
Writing Retreat Day
I followed a loosely planned schedule per the goal list. I omitted distractions. I didn’t check emails or any social media during the duration of my retreat, not even at lunch. I turned off my phone notifications. I avoided temptation by clearing my cookies. Avoiding social media was probably the best thing I did for a productive writing retreat. The most interesting aspect of this was that I learned I didn’t even miss Twitter or Instagram. I never once had the urge to log in.
I wanted the writing retreat to be more than just writing and editing. It was important for me to seek inspiration by connecting with nature, so after lunch I took a long walk on a nearby trail.
It’s important to have fun and I spent an hour reading a book that wasn’t related to my research. This might seem counterproductive, but I think reading for pleasure and letting your mind wander can also create bursts of inspiration for new ideas.
The day flew by. Having an at-home writing retreat was highly productive and left me feeling motivated. I completed everything on my list. I wrote more words than expected and even drafted the outline for the next book in my series.
I hope this helps you plan your own at-home writing retreat. Please let me know if you have any questions or just want to chat about your own writing retreat.