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Monday, August 17, 2015

5 reasons why you (yes you!) need a retreat!

Part of my heart for hosting my own retreat is that as I talk to other writers about their writing and their writing lives, I keep hearing a common theme: they all need a retreat for one reason or another. I see so many people who need a break. Writers wear so many hats, and have the most overfilled, overloaded plates of everyone I know, and yet, we just keep piling it higher, or grabbing a bigger plate. What we're not doing is stopping to take a time out to assess what's really important to us. And I believe that taking the time for a retreat, and investing in yourself, is the best way to do that. So here are the top five reasons why you need a retreat:

1. You need a retreat if you are at, or close to, burnout.

Ha! That's not me! It's easy to be in denial, but the truth is, many of us are a lot closer to burnout than we think. Most writers are going at a breakneck pace. In the current writing environment, it seems like there are so many things changing, adapting, and requiring our constant attention. I am increasingly disheartened to see so many of my writer friends either walking away from their writing careers, struggling where they used to find ease, or living in a state of utter exhaustion. Taking the time for a retreat gives you the rest you need to restore those burned out places.

2. You need a retreat to take time for yourself.

One of the things I love about my writer friends is that they are such givers. I was just on the phone with one of my really good writing friends, and what I love about her is that she has the biggest heart of anyone I know. I have seen her in places where she is absolutely running on empty and she still finds room to give to anyone who asks her. However, when it comes to taking time for herself, she feels like she's being selfish. But here's the thing: if she does not take care of herself, she's going to end up so utterly depleted that she makes herself sick or worse. When you take time for yourself, you refill the well so there is something for you to keep giving. There is a reason the airlines tell you to put on your oxygen mask first!

3. You need a retreat to refill the creative well.

Taking care of your own personal well is just one of the wells that can run empty. The creative well is one of the other wells you have that needs to be replenished. Again, when you're constantly pouring out, you need the time and space to refill. Going away to a place and situation outside your normal world and routine gives you the opportunity to access new creative materials and stretch your brain so you have even more to draw from!

4. You need a retreat to give you the space to take care of yourself. 

Even though we set the intention of doing better to take care of ourselves, to refill the well, to do all the things we want to do with our creative practice, most of the time, we don't do it. Something always comes up. The afternoon you were going to go write, your kid decides to start throwing up. True story. Nothing makes vomit happen faster in my house than having plans to go write (or having a clean house, but that doesn't happen as often). But when you've made reservations, paid money, and are all set to go on a retreat, you don't have the choice but to go, unless you want to all that to go to waste. If you don't have specific plans and something at stake, it's easy to forgo taking care of yourself in favor of other seemingly pressing matters at home. A retreat gives you the structure to force you into doing what you need to do for you.

5. You need a retreat because you don't need another writer's conference.

Let me be clear and say that I am not against writer's conferences. I've been to dozens of writing conferences, and I've gotten so much out of them. I absolutely love writer's conferences, and there are so many that are really good. I am very much in favor of writer's conferences. However. I believe that most writers already know what they need to know to be a good writer. I'm not saying we don't need to improve, because I think everyone has room to grow. Sometimes, though, what we need more than learning HOW to write is that we need to learn to BELIEVE in our abilities as writers. To care for the parts of us that will sustain us through our writing careers. We need time and space to process the things we've learned at writer's conferences. But if you're anything like me, you get home directly from a conference and have to dive right in to family life- without processing what you just learned at the conference. A retreat gives you the time and space you need to process what you've learned at a writer's conference, from a writing book, or any other thing you've done to improve your writing.

Ultimately, though, you need a retreat because you need to invest in you. Writers, you need to know that who you are and what you are doing when you put words on the page is valuable. 

Obviously, I'm biased in favor of people signing up for my retreat. Mostly because I have a lot of cool stuff planned that I believe will help us all avoid burnout, and give us the care we need to move forward in what I know is complete and total awesomeness. But you know, even if you just make a plan to get away on a little retreat of your own, you're still going to get a great benefit.  Don't put off taking time for yourself. You deserve to have the time and space you need to take care of yourself.

Sign up for the retreat before 9/4/15 to get the special Early Bird Pricing!

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