An Online Writing Retreat
"Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say." - Barbara Kingsolver
This online writing retreat offers you the opportunity to take a step away—if only for a few hours—from the busy rhythm of your daily life, quiet your mind, and write. It is ideal for writers at any stage, from those curious about the benefits of writing for creative expression or self-reflection to seasoned writers looking to reignite and invigorate their writing practice. This retreat is perfect for anyone with the desire to write! It can be completed individually or with a group of your choosing.
The retreat is divided into 4 distinct hour-long sections that can be completed individually over the course of a few days, or completed in a total of 4-5 consecutive hours. It’s up to you! Since it is online, you can accomplish it anywhere and on your own schedule.
The intended outcomes of the retreat are:
- Re-energize your writing practice
- Reconnect with your creative expression
- Generate new writing
- Gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your writing
This online writing retreat is private, meaning you will not interact with other participants, unless, of course, you have put together a group yourself and are moving through the parts together.
However, if you would like to receive written feedback on a piece of writing or would like a telephone or in-person meeting consultation, Liz will be thrilled to work with you! Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for rates and availability.
Enjoy the retreat and happy writing!
SPARK! PART 1
Part I of the retreat should require approximately 1 hour of your time. This first hour we will:
- Get grounded, prepared, and situated to the retreat
- Set the intention for this dedicated writing time
- Get started with some writing and reflection
Without further ado, let's get started!
Getting Grounded, Prepared, and Situated
First, congratulations on making the decision to dedicate some time to yourself and the words, images and stories within that are there ready to be expressed. To begin, and to get yourself grounded, prepared, and situated, I invite you to do the following:
Find a comfortable place to write. For some, this might be an office inside their home, and for others this might be a corner table at a busy cafe. Whatever works for you, find that place and take a seat.
Nourish your body. Be sure to have snacks and beverages available just in case. Nothing stops the creative process quite like thirst and a grumbling stomach.
Create your personal space. If you like to write with music in the background, I encourage you to put that on or grab your earbuds and iPod and find the music that works for you. For some, music has the ability to help us relax, get grounded and just a little quieter than we are used to. If music does not work for you, consider what might help you focus your attention and frame a creative space for yourself. Maybe it's ear plugs or a cubicle at a library.
Have your writing utensils or tools on hand. Personally, I still journal and write my first drafts by hand before transferring the work to the computer during the editing process. However, for others it is more comfortable to free write directly into a word document on a laptop, tablet, or home computer.
Set Your Intention
Once you are grounded, prepared, and situated and ready to get started, I encourage you to spend some time setting an intention for the retreat. Think about it--you made the courageous choice to spend time devoted to you and you only. Don't you want to make the most of this time and be mindful of exactly how you intend to spend it?
For the next 10-15 minutes (set a timer if you have to!) free write your response to the following questions.
- What do you hope to achieve during this retreat? Do you have any specific creative goals?
- Do you intend to do the retreat in 4-5 consecutive hours, or spread out over a number of days?
- Are there any particular topics you want to write about or that you feel you need to write about?
- Do you have any fears, insecurities, or concerns about the retreat? How does it feel--in your heart, mind, body--to dedicate this time to yourself? What does that mean to you?
Once you have finished responding to these questions, take a few moments to review what you wrote. Considering your responses, can you parse out a one-sentence intention? If so, write out that sentence on a 3" x 5" note card, or on a separate piece of paper, and place it where you can see it as you move through the retreat.
I often call "getting started," the initial words that come out of our minds through our pens and to the page as a process of "cleaning out the gutters." We have a lot going on in our minds and not every word or idea that lands on the page is gold. Most often, we need to "flush out" the gutters of our mind, clear them out so that what is truly emerging for expression can get through. To that end, set your timer for 20 minutes and write. Remember:
- Do not edit as you go.
- Keep your pen moving.
- If you don't know what to write, write about not knowing what to write.
- Write whatever comes to mind, even (especially) if it does not make sense to you.
- Keep going; follow your thoughts wherever they may lead you.
- Keep writing for 20 minutes.
Once you have written for 20 minutes, stop for a moment to reflect on how that was for you, what it felt like, and what you wrote. As you review your free writing, look for passages or ideas that feel particularly alive for you right now. What passages feel like they have enough energy for you to explore further? Reviewing our freewriting can be like panning for gold--it's a process of sifting through the many different words, ideas, images, etc. to find the one's with "heat," or that spark that incites curiosity or intrigue. Now, set your timer for 15 minutes and pick one image/idea/aspect/passage of your freewriting to dive into a bit deeper. With that passage as your new starting point, start writing.
Reflecting on Part 1
Now that you have gotten your writing juices flowing, has your intention for the retreat changed at all? If so, take a moment to revise the intention you articulated earlier. Have you learned more about your original intention? Are their sub-intentions, in other words, intentions that are more specific that you can identify?
Remember, writing is a process of discovery. Where we set out to go in our writing is not always where our writing leads us.
Before moving on to Part 2, take a break of at least 20 minutes.
Get up, stretch your legs, have a snack and beverage, step outside--do whatever you need to take care of your body and get centered for what's next.