The Value of Retreating

Writing Retreat by Blaise van Hecke

Is there value in going away to write? This question has been on my mind since I recently facilitated at two very different writing retreats. The first was a two-day writing camp for teens and the second was a two-day writing retreat for adults.

While they were very different in tone and amenities (think high school camp food versus gourmet home cooked meals), the intention for both programs was similar. All participants were exposed to ideas and tasks in the craft of writing in the hope that they were able to explore different aspects of writing and gain confidence in their skills.

There is always a danger in participating in too many courses and workshops as a writer because it can get in the way of actual writing but at the same time it’s really important to try new things, be part of group discussions and learn some pointers to help you get past the roadblocks.

Over the course of each of these two day programs, it was obvious that many of the participants had real aha moments and confidence started to build. It’s very different from going away on your own for two days (although that is also a worthwhile thing to do) because you are forced to engage with other writers. Afterwards these people also build connection with each other that they can continue into the future – a great resource to have so that you can bounce ideas off each other.

Many of these writers, young and old, had never shared any of their work with anyone before. Can you imagine the fear about that? But both groups were all after the same thing and were very nurturing. Everyone wanted success for each other. This meant that sharing felt safe. Once the sharing was done, it was a relief that all the anticipated fear about rejection and humiliation was unfounded.

The creative energy that develops over these programs is very exciting and it’s not uncommon for people to gain momentum on an existing project or to start something totally new in response to the discussions or from writing exercises. So the outcomes from my observation were confidence and inspiration to continue on writing projects. Very satisfying outcomes from my point of view.

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