Thursday, January 03, 2019

Retreats Are Different Things To Different People

I'm prepping for my annual retreat week, at which I'll be reading for hours next to a wood stove, doing a little frolicking in the snow, hitting a few restaurants, and then sacking out next to the wood stove some more.


Yes, this is a pretty sweet retreat. But there are others that interest me.


Writers' Retreats

Registration opened last month for a summer writing retreat. This is a weekend event similar to a couple of retreats I've attended in the past. This one offers more writing time in bits and pieces than the ones I went to, but otherwise it's like the others--heavily scheduled with mentor presentations, critiques, readings, and panel discussions. These retreats are like conferences I've attended, but with far fewer people, both in terms of participants and staff. The retreats are often in more rustic settings than the conferences, though. Perhaps that's the "retreat" aspect.

Stampers' Retreats

As luck would have it, I have a family member who's a stamper and recently returned from a stamping retreat. At these things people arrive with loads of stuff. The stampers have stacks of envelopes of pictures that they are working on putting into scrapbooks. Or orange boxes of pictures from Shutterfly. There might be a few classes over the course of the weekend and a store with scrapbooking supplies. But there's no mentoring, critiquing, readings, or panels. These people work. For hours and hours.

At the retreat my family member attended, the cropping room was open until 1 AM Saturday morning and 2 AM Sunday. It opened again at 8:30 AM each day. The participants only left for meals. There was some chit chat, I'm told, but not enough to keep people from working. Some headphones came out, which I totally understand. I like music when I'm working, too. I don't work many twelve to sixteen hour days, though. None, to be honest.

My family member came home from that retreat with more than one hundred and seventy cards made. I remember working maybe thirty or forty minutes at my last retreat. No, I did not come home with the writing equivalent of a hundred and seventy cards.

The organization that sponsors this scrapbooking retreat does it every month. So many opportunities.

Would A Stamping-type Retreat Work For Writers?

Now, I will admit that my first thought when I heard about the goings on at this place and saw the accompanying picture was, Sweatshop. My second thought was, Why can't we do this? Why can't writers go to an organized event for a couple of days and just put on a headset and work?

I know an argument could be made that writers need the networking that goes along with mentor presentations, critiques, readings, and  panels. At those kinds of events, we hope we'll meet agents and editors who will take an interest in our work or we'll hear that someone is open to admissions or the sky will open up and contracts with international publishers will drop at our feet. But, come on, haven't we all run into writers who were planning how they were going to sell or market books they hadn't written yet? You really need to get the writing done first. And wouldn't one of these scrapbooking-type retreats be a way to do some of that?

So what I'm thinking is I'd like to hit a retreat with a room filled with tables and plenty of power outlets. I'd arrive there with all my research done, as well as a lot of blueprinting and with  headset and music in hand. I'd work in forty-five minute segments, pausing for a little chit chat or some Pop Corners before going back to the ol' drawing board.

I wouldn't expect to come home with anything like one hundred and seventy cards, but to have jumpstarted or finished a draft would be fantastic.

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