Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Time Management Tuesday: Writers' Retreats

This weekend I'm off to the Falling Leaves Master Class for Novels Retreat that I told you about back in September. This takes place over a weekend, a weekend is a unit of time, what am I going to do with that time? For that matter, all retreats take place over a unit of time, a unit of time that writers could use for anything, the retreat being just one of their options. There is an opportunity cost involved with our choices on how to use our time. Do we gain enough from a retreat to justify the time cost?

What Is a Writers' Retreat, Anyway?

I tend to have a very formal, traditional writers' retreat fantasy that involves going some place remote and working away from the distractions of family, home, and day jobs. My fantasy does include getting together with other writers for meals and doing some exercising and reading. Okay, it pretty much involves doing only what I want to do.

That isn't necessarily what other writers think of as retreats, though. A writer friend once told me she didn't see the point of going away to be with other people and then work and not be with them. I've also heard a writer discussing a  retreat she attended at which writers worked together on a couch while either instant messaging or tweeting each other. The writer telling this story had a good time.

Additionally, many writers' retreats have programs and events scheduled for most of the day. They're like mini-conferences for limited numbers of people often in a remote, scenic area. My guess is that the big difference between a conference and these kinds of retreats is the size and the number of programs offered each hour--one at a retreat versus multiple at a conference. At any rate, many retreats appear to be about something other than actually working.

How To Get The Best Bang For Your Time


Choose Carefully.  I contacted the Falling Leaves staff to see if there would be any writing time during the weekend before applying. In addition, this is a master class retreat. While there are four presentations from editors, those presentations are related to the manuscripts we submitted in order to be accepted, and we've had to prepare for them. This could end up being like some kind of monastic study experience. I'll actually be bringing two projects to work on.

Create Objectives. I had three original objectives for the retreat when applying.
  • Community-building.
  • Writing
  • Getting away from Gail Universe and enter another for a couple of days. 
I've been prepping for over a week for the editors' presentations, and now that I'm back into this project I would switch the writing and community-building objectives. I'd really like to get more work done, even if it's not traditional writing but some kind of revision or planning.

Now, I have far more experience obsessing about time and how I'm using it than I do with writers' retreats, but the way I feel right now, it's unlikely I would take the time to go to a writers' retreat that is primarily presentations without a specific work project involved.

But we will see how I feel about the time involved for writers' retreats next week. At the very least, I'm expecting to meet my objective of getting away from Gail Universe for a couple of days.



tanita✿davis said...

I haven't been able to justify a retreat... I have no kids, one partner, and no pets. Why would I need to get away?

...and YET...

Do have fun, or at least have a productive time.

Gail Gauthier said...

That's why I only did National Novel Writing Month once. I have limited parental duties, no pets, no day job. I'm supposed to be writing every month, right?

Yet I do like using a block of time as a sort of focus point/organizational tool.