How I created a DIY writing retreat

How I created a DIY writing retreat

A couple of months ago, I booked myself into an Airbnb for a weekend dedicated to writing. I’d done this once before, in 2008, and was excited to try again. I’d learned some valuable lessons from my last DIY writing retreat, and was confident that this one would be successful. So – how did I do?

Well, to make a long story slightly shorter: better. I was able to correct some of the issues that held me back in 2008, and overall I had a more successful retreat. Even though I wasn’t as productive as I’d imagined I’d be, there’s simply no downside to a weekend dedicated solely to working on my creative project.

Creating a DIY writing retreat takes planning

No matter whether you want to spend a weekend writing or an afternoon working on any other sort of creative project, I recommend you take the time to plan. And not just “Where will I stay?” and “How much will it cost?” I mean write down a list of things you want to accomplish, what your dealbreakers are in terms of location, and how you might structure your day. For me, I’m realizing that structure is important, even a loose schedule. It’s important to leave breathing room for your creativity, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll need a good idea of how you’ll fill the hours. Because there are a lot of hours in a solo weekend, let me tell you!

What I learned and what I’d do differently

About a week after returning from my DIY writing retreat, I wrote a blog post detailing my ups and downs, what I learned, and what things I’d do differently next time. You can read all about my creative weekend on my writing blog.

The importance of a creative plan was the biggest thing I learned during my DIY writing retreat. I gave up my dependence on my “muse” a while ago, but I’m still learning the value in giving my creativity a scaffolding to build upon. I’m just not the sort of writer who thrives on the unknown. As I wrote at the time:

I arrived at the apartment in the late afternoon on Friday, was shown around, and left to my own devices. As soon as the door shut behind me, I started to feel the dread. I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have any strategies. All of my informed decisions were used up on choosing the location.

Let me know what you think! Have you ever done a DIY writing retreat, or any other sort of creative getaway? What helped you? What did you learn about your own creative process?

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