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Sep 06

Organizational Tips for Your Writing Retreat

Although The Writing Barn is the perfect place for a fairy tale wedding or party, it was conceived as a place to celebrate books. Owner and author Bethany Hegedus knows what’s needed for a good writing space and created the Barn with her wishes in mind, transforming it into the perfect place to rest, rejuvenate and create.

The Writing Barn has been the host to a number of Write Away Weekends, and right now is offering a 20% discount for a September weekend booking. If you’re booking for a group, The Writing Barn sleeps four and the Cabin sleeps three, for a total of seven guests. Critique groups are welcome. For availability and to reserve your Write Away Weekend, email info@thewritingbarn.com.

P.J. Hoover

P.J. Hoover

If you’re wondering how to organize your writing retreat, one of our favorite authors, P.J. Hoover, graciously offered to write a guest post on how to stay sane while getting away to write. Thank you, P.J.:

Maybe the biggest problem with writing is your life. Your real life. You’re trying your best to start a new project, work on revisions. Whatever your goal, there are a million other things pulling for your attention.

I’m not sure how it is in your house, but as I sit at my computer, I best not get up. Because if I do, I’ll see the mound of laundry that needs folded. I’ll realize the dishwasher isn’t yet unloaded. I need to pick the kids up from school in 15 minutes, and I’m not going to be the mom who is always late.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve looked at all these real-world distractions and thought, “What I really need is a writing retreat.”

Great! This is the perfect start. But don’t let the idea pop into existence and fade away. If there don’t happen to be any other retreats scheduled that you’ve been invited to, a great option is to plan your own.

Seem a bit daunting? Well, don’t let it be! Here are a handful of tips to help turn what seems like a huge task into a very manageable one!

1) Find a co-chair

Right, so being the one who gets the ball rolling doesn’t make you the king. Sure, you are the go-to person for the time being, but what happens when you aren’t available? Having a second go-to person will help you brainstorm ideas and make it completely more fun.

Library at The Writing Barn

The library space at The Writing Barn where retreat groups can gather for readings.

2) Find a place

In your mind, come up with an initial list of people you’d like to invite. Don’t extend invitations yet, but having a tentative number will help you find a place for the retreat. There are lots of different factors to consider when looking for the right place, but beds and showers are at the top of my list. Other factors to consider are check-in time, check-out time, travel distance, cost, and furnishings (things like towels, coffee, sheets, plates and silverware).

3) Invite people

It’s important to have a group that will get along well. I’m not saying everyone has to be BFF with everyone else, but the retreat will include tons of bonding time, and there is no place for divas or people holding grudges. You are here to be hugely productive while at the same time nurturing relationships that will last for years.

When you invite people, it’s okay to have rules set in place. Since you or your co-chair will likely be putting out money up-front for a deposit, it’s okay to tell people they need to mail you a deposit to hold their spot. It’s also okay to make this deposit non-refundable after a certain date. Rules set out up-front will keep things professional and help preserve relationships.

4) Delegate

Once people have started accepting (and they will!), make a list of all the other things that need to be taken care of. Meal planning, daily schedules, and kitchen cleaning are all real things that need to be done. Don’t think you need to do all these yourself. Ask who might be interested in heading up the food effort. The scheduling. The cleaning. Let others own responsibility so everything doesn’t fall on you or your co-chair.

The Writing Barn bedroom

A comfy queen-size bed is in the bedroom at The Writing Barn.

5) Be realistic

Once your retreat starts, you’ll find lots of great time for writing. But be realistic and remember that everyone on the retreat is there not only to write but to bond. Schedule in time for snacks and social breaks. Read-aloud time. Also, when afternoon sleepies hit, schedule in exercise time. Everyone will feel better and it’s a great way to refresh.

6) Extras count

In addition to being realistic, remember that it’s the special little things that make a difference. Sharing goals. Evening candlelight ceremonies. Encouraging others. Perhaps come up with a list of conversation starters, things you’d love to talk about with a group but never had the chance to. These small moments will be the things that everyone remembers for years.

Still seem daunting? I hope not! Organization makes everything better, and the more organized you are up front, the more smoothly everything will run thereafter.

P. J. Hoover first fell in love with Greek mythology in sixth grade thanks to the book Mythology by Edith Hamilton. After a 15-year bout as an electrical engineer designing computer chips for a living, P. J. decided to take her own stab at mythology and started writing books for kids and teens. When not writing, P. J. spends time with her husband and two kids and enjoys practicing kung fu, solving Rubik’s cubes, and watching Star Trek. Her first novel for teens, Solstice, takes place in a global warming future and explores the parallel world of mythology beside our own and will be published by Tor Children’s in June 2013. Her next middle grade novel, Tut, which tells the story of a young immortal King Tut, who’s been stuck in middle school for over 3,000 years and must defeat an ancient enemy with the help of a dorky kid from school, a mysterious Egyptian princess, and a one-eyed cat, will be published by Tor Children’s in Winter 2014. For more information about P. J. (Tricia) Hoover, please visit her website www.pjhoover.com.

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  1. Take Off and Write: Planning a Weekend Retreat For Your Writing Group » The Writing Barn

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