Thursday, March 5, 2015

Is a Writing Retreat Right for You?

by Lynn Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

I just got home from my very first writing retreat.

It wasn’t well-planned or lengthy. It was a spur of the moment decision to take an extra night away from home to write.

With not even a full 24 hours to work with, I wondered if it would even be worth it.

It so was.

Maybe you’ve thought about getting away to write but you aren’t sure if it’s a wise use of time or resources. I get that.

Here’s why I think it worked for me.

1. I’m not on a deadline. I’m working on a new novel and there’s no contract for it. It can be difficult to ignore the distractions and get my rear in the chair when there’s no one expecting this novel by a certain time. But knowing my husband and kids wanted me to have this time to get some writing done was extremely motivating. I didn’t want to squander the gift of time they had given me.

2. I didn’t go far. Who wants to waste precious writing time on travel? It took me less than an hour to get home. I was finishing up a chapter while sitting on a hotel bed at 1:50, and was walking into my kitchen at 3:00.

Don't overplan.
3. I didn’t overplan. I overplan everything. (Except my novels…which makes no sense). If I’d had a week to prepare for this I probably would have color-coded my planner with writing time/eating time/sleeping time, etc. As it was, I was already headed out for a women’s retreat with my church when my husband made the suggestion that I stay an extra night. I packed my laptop and the power cable. I remembered to grab a notebook and a few pens. I forgot my blue tooth speaker, but I managed. Sometimes, the best plan is no plan at all. 

4. I took breaks. This was the hardest part and the most crucial. My husband didn’t care if I came home with any new words or not. He just wanted me to come home refreshed. Even with his encouragement, I was already getting stressed about my word count when my dear friend Bethany Kaczmarek, an awesome writer and editor, gave me my motto for the weekend. “Giddy not Guilty.”

Whenever I started to feel like I wasn’t “doing” enough, I would remember my motto. I was giddy about the opportunity to get away. I would NOT feel guilty for recharging my batteries. I would write for a few hours, then take a break. I went out to dinner, I watched a movie, I slept late. I was able to get the word count AND the relaxation I needed.

Let people know why you're there.
5. I told people why I was there. I have a book coming out in June and I still get tongue-tied when I start talking about my writing. But when the owner of the hotel asked me what my plans were for my extra night I said, “I’m a writer. I’m going to be working on my next book.” I couldn’t believe I said it. It was kind of a break through moment for me! The unexpected upside came the next morning, when the owner told me he didn’t need my room right away and for me to feel free to stay three hours past check out.

6. I prayed and asked others to pray. I try not to announce things like “I’m going to be out of town alone” on social media, but I did share my plans with a few friends and asked them to pray. Our very own Edie Melson reminded me that God’s plan might not be what I expected, so I asked God to give me whatever I needed for the time. Whether it was word count or new ideas or sleep. I told Him the truth. I wanted word count! Fresh ideas were a close second! But I wanted His will for my time even more.

When it was all said and done, my 22-hour writing retreat ended with a fresh 4,000 words saved in Scrivener. I also came home in a great mood and excited about where the story is headed.

So what about you? Have you ever run away to write? What worked (or didn’t work) for you?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


A #writing retreat can be a huge gift, but doesn’thave to be a huge expense or ordeal - @LynnHBlackburn (Click toTweet)

Lynn Huggins Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after at


  1. This was GREAT! I overbook everything as well and find myself bogged down with too many details. I'm a live in care-giver and only get spurts of writing time. When I do, I leave the house and find a quiet mini retreat. I think it's time to book an all-nighter!!! Thanks for your encouragement Lynn.

    1. I'm so glad this encouraged you! As a care-giver, you probably need the time away more than most. I hope you escape for an all-nighter soon and that it is as refreshing as mine was!

  2. Good for you! Several years ago, I shocked my husband by asking for a weekend away to write as my Christmas present. It was wonderful! I've been away from my fiction for far too long and can't decide which story to pick up again. Maybe it's time for me to have another get-away. :-)

  3. I dream of a writing retreat. I fanticize about one! That's all I can think about since Writers Bootcamp; getting away from all the distractions to write. It looks like I may be having a writer's retreat at home when my husband takes his daughter's car back to her in south Florida. ten hours away!

  4. This was a wonderful post. What a neat story about the owner of the hotel. Seems that was God's small way of rewarding your for being bold and telling people what you were doing there!

  5. Love it! I haven't done this type of writing retreat, but the year I turned 50, I asked for a weekend to Seattle by myself. I did have some writing to do, deadline stuff, but it was so nice to do what I needed and not have to stop for anything else! Now I think I need a writing retreat - specifically. But when?