Back in ‘sunny’ Melbourne now for a few days, I am into the swing of the office and the team has reminded me that things run smoothly while I’m away. I agree and think that I should stay away … another week in Bali would be nice!
What can I say? Spending six days in Ubud with a group of dedicated writers was a real treat. I learned many things from the group, they learned from each other and me. There’s no denying that a group of people with the same intention can come up with great solutions to writing problems, great marketing ideas, and writing tips from their own experience.
This event was a true RETREAT. Each person had to organise their lives to be away for a week and physically get to the venue. This means that they are dedicated to sharing their stories and very serious about delving into the nitty gritty of writing. Yes, I could have held a retreat closer to home, like Mornington or Daylesford (both lovely places), but that would not have meant that these people were removed from their life and immersed in what was happening.
We started on Friday afternoon very quietly – everyone a little shy – but by the second day everyone felt comfortable with each other and were sharing their stories, both the written and personal ones.
Each morning, we worked for 3–4 hours on different aspects of the craft of writing and really attacked our stories from different angles. This meant interrogating characters, especially the hero (the hero in memoir is obviously the person writing the book), asking them deep questions about who they are and what their values are. This works for both fiction and non-fiction, of which we had a mix.
After interrogating our characters, we looked at structure, following the hero’s journey until we come full circle to the end. We studied the meaning and intentions behind each story, seeing what layers were hidden beneath. This was deep diving and I was very proud of each person because there were many open conversations and vulnerable moments (and some tears) that meant that the group had bonded.
The last day was focused on the business of writing: publishing pathways and marketing of the book and the writer. We concentrated on the author platform and we talked about websites, social media and other ways to connect with readers. Each one of these books is now really set for success. It’s up to each writer to now do the work and I’ll be checking in with each of them monthly for the next four months to make sure they are on task.
Here is what Alex had to say: Forced and welcome relaxation … has centred and focused my view. I now have structure and motivation to finish this book before the next year is through. Thank you to Blaise and the writers congregation who have helped me find commitment anew …
Of course, we also enjoyed all that Bali has to offer: beautiful food, smiling people, massages, great weather and a rice paddy or two.
None of the participants wanted to leave but we agreed that it was good to finish on a high before we got sick of each other. Now we’re visualising the book launches for 2020!