Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ten Benefits of Going on a Writers' Retreat

While writers need solitude for honing their craft, going on a writers' retreat provides an opportunity to immerse in an intensive, uplifting and focused writing experience.

When I got an email from the Illinois chapter of The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) inviting writers to get lost in the tranquility of nature and find your Words in the Woods at a June retreat, I couldn't resist applying.

And, yes, I'm very glad I went to the Words in the Woods 2012: Moving your Story Forward retreat. Here are ten benefits I and other writers experienced in just one long weekend, Friday, June 22 to Sunday, June 24 at Villa Maria in Springfield, IL:

Face-to-face critiques with an editor, agent or writer
Alexandra Penfold, "Ty" King, Marissa Moss

Front-row seats to listen and learn from guest speakers: editor Alexandra Penfold (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers), agent Kristy “Ty” King (Writers House), and author/illustrator/publisher Marissa Moss

Workshops on creating characters and developing vivid settings and plots for page-turning middle-grade and young adult novels, as well as picture books

Speaker panels on revision, marketing and career-development

Manuscript exchanges and camaraderie with other writers sharing stories and ideas in a cozy environment
Lake Springfield, our backyard

Open mic time to read stories and works-in-progress

Lovely natural treasures such as the Lincoln Trail and Lake Springfield right in our backyard

Delicious meals and freedom from time spent cooking and caring for family members

Singing by the campfire under a starry sky

And, yes, even dancing in pjs at a pajama party 
What a wonderful event! If you have the opportunity
to go on a writers' retreat, take it.

A heartfelt thank you to the Words in the Woods retreat committee (Louann Brown, John Bowen, Anastasia Ely, Sara Latta and Alice McGinty) for awarding me the Becky Mabry “Go for It” Words in the Woods scholarship covering full tuition, a professional critique and room and board. Thank you!

Thank you, Illinois SCBWI, for bringing in such high-caliber publishing professionals.

Now I am inspired to write, write, write!
Have you been on a writers' retreat? Like them? Don't like them? Know of any great ones? Please share your experiences below in comments. 

Pajama Party art goes hog wild
Quiet writing time in the library

Kathy on Google+


  1. Congratulations on your well-deserved award, Kathy. One of my take-aways from this great retreat is amazing energy to work on my writing. My critique group met Monday morning after the retreat and I felt as if I was on fire--everything I heard and saw suggested story ideas to me. What a great way to recharge the batteries by going to a retreat.

    Sallie Wolf

    1. Yes, it was a fun way to recharge. Kind of wish I were still there! Best of luck with the moon project book. Can't wait to see it!

  2. Hi, Kathy. I've never been on a writing retreat but have been thinking that it would be really helpful. I've even thought of just planning my own by myself. It wouldn't have all the benefits of the retreat you went on, but I would be able to be alone with my thoughts and give my writing my undivided attention....something that is very hard for me to do at home with work and a family and everything else. Thanks for sharing your experience, and I'm glad it was so inspiring for you!

    1. Hi, Kerry, I hope you find the retreat of your dreams! I'm already ready for another.

  3. This sounds amazing! I would love to attend a writers retreat like this!! Sounds heavenly!! :)

    1. Best of luck finding a retreat that will inspire you!

  4. Great post. I totally would love to go on a retreat. I've been to conferences but I think a retreat would take it to a whole other level. I tweeted your post!

    1. I hope you get try a retreat. Usually, they give more time to focus on writing than conferences do. Thanks for tweeting this post!