Friends, today we have an awesome guest post by a super nice dude, Dean K. Miller. He's here to chat about writing retreats. But first, there are a couple of things I wanted to mention:
- Big congratulations to all of you brave folks who conquered the A-Z Challenge. *applauds loudly*
- In case you missed it, be sure to check out my guest post over at Janice Hardy's blog, Fiction University. I tackled the subject Are print books necessary in the digital age?
Now, Dean Miller shares with us why writing retreats are priceless, and how we too can plan one without draining the bank. Take it away, Dean!
Writers on Retreat
No, we aren’t circling the wagons or high-tailing it back to the fort for safety. With the world of publishing opening up like the Red Sea, writers are coming out in droves. And a vast majority is producing some high quality work.
But where do we find the time to hammer out novel after novel? I mean, really, with a day job, family, fly fishing, kids in school . . . the list and its demand on our time is nearly endless.
One way to squirrel away precious writing time is to take a writing retreat. Yes, we all dream of countless hours of uninterrupted writing, prepared meals, and nature’s harmonious sounds in the background while we tap away on our keyboards, producing chapter after chapter of splendorous verbiage.
I already hear you lamenting (in your loudest, four-year-old, whiny voice.) “But that costs a lot of money.”
Yes, it certainly can. But it can be worth it. For my first retreat I paid $345.00, which included a single room, two four-hour days of fly fishing and nearly three days of uninterrupted writing (except to eat and refill my wine glass.) I skipped the movie night and at the end of the weekend I had added over 15,000 words to my novel.
However, my first writing sabbatical took place on a trip to Houston, TX with my daughter for a swim meet. We had budgeted for this and I took along my laptop. In between swim sessions I wrote for several hours. To learn more about this journey, visit Leanne Dyck’s great blog on August 15th.
But there are other options, many less expensive and even a few for free. Here are a few creative ways to find yourself with hours of quality writing time.
- Amtrak’s Train Writing Residencies: Amtrak is offering 24 writing residencies free of charge. They are accepting submissions and are awarding free travel on one of their 15 long distance trains. Each recipient will receive roundtrip travel in a sleeper car, complete with desk, bed, electric plug ins and a window for inspiration. (I’ve already applied!) Learn more here.
- PLAYA: Located in the Lake County, this southern Oregon Outback nonprofit organization supports innovative thinking through work in the arts, literature, natural sciences and other fields of creative inquiry. Organized in 2009, they began their Free Residency program in May 2011. (Info via Playa Website)
- Another great resource is author C. Hope Clark’s newsletter, Funds for Writers. There is a free edition (limited listings) or the full newsletter for $15.00 annually. It lists job markets, agents, writing competitions, and fellowships/retreats/grants and residencies, many of which are free of charge. Some offer stipends as well and several are open to emerging writers. You don’t have to be a published all-star to apply or get selected.
How about that nice two-person tent in the basement that’s never been out of the box? Find a park or campground, pitch that baby up for a night and find inspiration in the stars at night.
And if you can’t even get away for one night, find a few hours in a park, along a river, near a lake or in the middle of a farmer's field. Be creative, be bold and honor your inner writer. With a little research and some innovative planning, who knows where you’ll find your next best piece of writing.
Dean, thanks so much for this great information! I've never taken an official writing retreat, but I live in the boonies and create my own writing oasis from time to time.
Friends, have you gone on a writing retreat? Was it helpful? Does the cost of writing retreats keep you from taking the plunge? If so, what's your opinion of Dean's low cost solutions? Please share!
Dean is giving away one signed copy of his book, And Then I Smiled: Reflections on a Life Not Yet Complete. No hoops to jump through! All commenters will be added to the drawing, which ends May 5th.
Dean is a freelance writer and member of Northern Colorado Writers. His work has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Parenthood, TROUT magazine, Torrid Literature Journal and other literary magazines. His essays won three separate contests at www.midlifecollage.com.
For 26 years, Miller has kept the skies safe as an air traffic controller for the FAA and received the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) Northwest Mountain Region 2010 Archie League Safety Award. In his spare time, he enjoys fly fishing and he is an avid supporter and volunteer for the veteran’s support group Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. He lives in Colorado with his wife, Laura, and their two dogs, Bear and Snickers.