- Last week I covered my concerns about committing an entire weekend to a writers' retreat. Would it be worth the use of that time? I think it's pretty clear from my last two posts that I think Falling Leaves was a valuable experience and well worth the two days I spent there. Specifically, I did meet my three goals.
- Weekend Writing. All of Saturday afternoon was committed to free time for writing with one twenty-five minute critique with an editor, and there were plenty of other ways to snatch twenty or thirty minutes here or there to work.
- Escape. I most definitely got away from Gail Universe.
- Community Building. I did meet a number of people I'd be happy to stay in touch with, but I suspect that community building is one of those things you have to wait a while to assess how things went. Will we become part of a writers' community? I can't make that judgement at this point.
An Impact On My Time Now
What I didn't expect was that the retreat would have an impact on my time after it was over.
- I'm struggling with re-entry, in large part because I keep a pretty tight schedule working in units of time and planning my week. I broke training for 3 days and have been wandering around with a cold for 2 more. I am definitely having trouble getting up to speed. If I went to more retreats, I'd probably know about re-entry problems and be able to plan some way to deal with this time issue. Live and learn, as they say.
- I brought two manuscripts to Falling Leaves with me. One was critiqued by the editor, one was critiqued by a critique group. Now I feel a need to work on both of them. As an organic writer, that could be a problem. No, it most certainly is going to be a problem. One of the ways organic writers generate material and plot is by immersing ourselves in the world we're working on. I have a plan for flipping back and forth between both my worlds, with most of my time going to one rather than the other, but this is another thing I didn't foresee. Bringing two manuscripts to a retreat is probably a mistake. Again, live and learn.
- The big post-retreat time impact, however, is that as a result of my weekend experience I'm now interested in finding a critique group because Saturday morning's went so well. To be truthful, I have been thinking about this a bit since the NESCBWI event in May, when a workshop leader gave us some critique time. I haven't been in a critique group for 6 or 7 years, finally quitting the one I was in because it was an enormous time drain. We prepared our critiques on our own time, meaning that in addition to the two evenings a month we met, we could end up using 4 or 5 hours of our work time each month on reading and critiquing other members' work. It was also an open group at a bookstore, so we weren't necessarily working with experienced writers or writers who had writing training through workshops or course work, even if they hadn't been published themselves, as happened with both the one-stop critique groups I was part of at SCBWI events this year. Just finding a critique group could be time consuming, and then working with one on a regular basis could cost me a lot of time.This is a big risk that I wasn't that keen on taking before this past weekend.
A Retreat Should Have An Impact On Your Post-Retreat Time
If any kind of short, intensive learning experience (as we used to call retreat-type events back when I worked for consultants) is worthwhile, it should have an impact on what you do after you're back at work. That's the point of going, to improve yourself in some way. I forgot about that because I was so fixated on what was going to happen during the retreat, itself. Once again, live and learn.