re-treat \ri-´treet\ noun 1. an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable 2. a place of privacy or safety (refuge) 3. a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study [etc]; verb 1. to make a retreat


A few of the potential signs:

(a) It’s been over a month since you made progress on your manuscript besides monkeying with word choice here and there (i.e. progress anyone besides you would actually notice).

(b) Suddenly coming up with some small idea for revision while blow-drying your hair is the most time you’ve found to consider your manuscript in weeks — to the point that you feel proud of yourself for considering it at all and pat yourself on the back for a productive, multi-tasking hair-styling session.

(c) You can sympathize with cars that won’t start without a jump: stuck in your current routine, there’s no way you’re going to get back in the writing habit.

(d) Every time you notice that the kids are playing well down in the basement and you open your laptop to take advantage of the stolen moment, someone cries or rushes up the stairs with an urgent problem or needs a drink or food or has just wet their pants.

(e) The job you’re getting paid to do (regardless of how little it pays) leaves little room for the “hobby” that currently pays nothing, regardless of your fantasies about future six-digit contracts.

(f) Said job currently involves reading and marking and grading hundreds of pages of student writing, leaving you with no time/energy/willpower to accomplish your own writing.

(g) You’ve mapped out exactly what you need to revise on your manuscript and are dying to have a chance to really dive into it, and fifteen minutes here and there is just puddle jumping, not diving; you need days, not minutes, to really get the momentum flowing.

Yeah. In case you’re wondering, my answer is “(h) All of the above.”

This Thursday evening I’m ditching my family, ganging up with nine other writers, and spending nearly 48 hours forgetting about job, kids and other distractions so that we can all get a jump-start on our writing.

Admittedly, it’s a strange sort of vacation. We’re going out of town in order to get work done, not recreation. There will be ten of us making very little noise besides the clicking of keyboard keys for hours at a time. It’s quite likely that some of us will seclude ourselves in various rooms and floors away from the others, sort of negating the social aspect of getting together. Rather than eating out and other usual vacation meal pleasures, we’re planning the menu around what can be prepared the fastest so as to waste the least writing time possible. And the most sight-seeing we’ll probably do is surfing the internet for bits of research.

In other words, we’re creating our own ideal writing environment. Few other people would be enticed by it, I’m sure, but for writers, all of us juggling jobs and families, it sounds like heaven to have two days without interruptions. Despite the lack of activities on the agenda (okay, except we might take breaks now and again for swimming, games, or movies), the comment I hear from everyone attending is “I’m SO EXCITED!”

If asked if you’d like to pay to spend 48 hours holed up in a condo with ten people, eating and speaking as little as possible, would “SO EXCITED!” be your response? What would your ideal retreat be like?

Leave a comment!

12 thoughts on “When It’s Time to Call, “Retreat!”

  1. So I wouldn’t call that a retreat, but as my husband is currently an english teacher, but will be taking a hiatus to go back to school for writing, I could see him doing this.

    Good luck!


  2. I’m currently unemployed and working full-time on my non-paying hobby. Everyday is like what you are describing except without the company. It is exhausting focusing in seclusion. Your upcoming retreat sounds wonderful because then you can exchange feedback and encourage each other. Try not to lock yourself up from the others for too long!


    1. Totally agreed. I did forget to mention that that is a definite benefit — otherwise we could all just retreat separately! I’m predicting the silence will be broken regularly for exactly that kind of stuff.

      Come join us! Just fly into SLC Thursday and I’ll pick you up! 😀


      1. LOL You plan time work on your projects on weekends but I plan time away from my projects for a couple days to regain sanity.

        Since I’m visiting family and volunteering at the food bank this weekend, I’ll have to pass this time. Thanks for the invite though! 🙂


        1. Any time you guys can make it to Utah, you’re welcome to stay with us! We’ve got a guest room downstairs. And Dave’s sister and her fam are moving to Portland this summer, which should give us more excuses to visit you! 😀


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