Writing retreat…then and now…

Me & CP, Emily McKay

Me & CP, Emily McKay

Sometime in 1998 I formed a critique relationship with another unpublished romance writer. She wrote short category romance, something I’d not read up until we started working together, and I wrote historicals. We didn’t know each other well initially, but slowly we forged a bond and together found magic. In the beginning neither one of us knew much about what we were doing, so we learned how to write, we studied craft, we found our writing styles and our strengths and weaknesses.

the beach house we used to visit - lost in Hurricane Ike

the beach house we used to visit – lost in Hurricane Ike

In those early years we would go, with two other writer buddies that we worked with, to one said writer buddy’s beach house. We’d go for a long weekend and we’d work and plot and laugh and have more fun than you can imagine while also accomplishing a ton of work. The first night there we’d set our goals for the trip and the rest of the time it was work, work, work, with the occasional nice walk on the beach.

Flash forward to now – 4 kids later (2 for each of us) and we’re back at the beach together, just the 6 of us and we’ll see how much work we can actually get done with a 3, 4, 5 and 8 year old with us. We haven’t set goals, though we’re both on deadline. Instead we plan to spend time together – which is more difficult now with our families – let our kids play together and hope to get work done in the down time.

100_1892I bring all this up not so much to brag on my amazing relationship with my critique partner, though really y’all should be jealous because we work so well together (and she just won a RITA, Go Emily!) but instead to discuss the merits of writing retreats. They’re quite popular these days. I know RWA chapters plan them and host them periodically and lots of critique groups get together for writing retreats.

There’s something quite magical about getting together and spending time focusing on your writing with other writers. Especially when you can do it with a lovely bit of nature near by – the beach, mountains, a lake or forrest. And you know it’s good for our kids to see their moms working and having co-workers, even if our jobs are more unconventional than some of the other parents.

So how about you? Ever been on a writing retreat? What are yours like or what would make the perfect one for you?


5 thoughts on “Writing retreat…then and now…

  1. Hi Robyn!! I’m so glad for Emily on the RITA and glad for you too… as her CP, I know your hand is in that book. It’s a fortunate thing to have a critique partner who can help shape your work to fit with your vision! I will be curious to know how the retreat goes with the kids in tow, but I admire your ambition! Catherine Mann and I used to get tons brainstormed in local parks when our kids were small and the kids would be LONG done with the slides and their Happy Meals before Cathy and I were ready to go home . I wish you lots of creative genius and some joyful motherhood moments on your trip! -Joanne

  2. Just last weekend, my six-member writers group had a three-day retreat in one member’s seaside “camp” (and a real house in nearby Eastport, ME). It was magical–we felt as if we’d been away for weeks. There’s a lot to be said for isolating yourselves in a bubble for a few days.

  3. I’ve never been to a retreat (envious of y’all), but then again, I’m homebound and must stay close by to keep an eye some of my kids who need it more than most. So I get 2 nights at a nearby hotel , where I can still dash home during meltdowns

  4. Sounds wonderful! I’m lucky if I can run off for a couple of hours to the bookstore or library. Sometimes I also take a vacation day while my son is in daycare or school and just write. I’d love to go on a retreat sometime.

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