Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Retreat for Renewal

I'm on the road today, wending my way home from the Retreat by the Sea, a writer's retreat organized by Writer's Digest. It was a fabulous weekend. This particular retreat is special because you are given the opportunity to have your own work reviewed during intensive sessions that focus on preparing your manuscript for submission to industry professionals. Other sessions are jam-packed with information about craft and shaping a story.

Our instructors were the talented author and reviewer Hallie Ephron; Paula Munier, a Senior Literary Agent and Content Strategist at Talcott Notch Literary Services; and Phil Sexton, Publisher of Writer's Digest.
Discussion with agent Paula Munier













I had always been curious about what a writer's retreat would be like, and this experience exceeded my expectations. In addition to the workshops and learning sessions, there was a wonderful bonhomie as the attendees got to know each other. I came away from the retreat feeling refreshed, renewed, and optimistic about the future of publishing. If you ever have a chance to go to a retreat (expecially this one!), I highly recommend that you seize the opportunity.

Have you been to a writer's retreat before? How was the experience for you?

10 comments:

  1. I've been to several different types of retreats with various agendas & focus. The main ingredient seems to be getting away (or retreating from) from the pulls or demands of your life to focus on your craft. The rejuvenation aspect & camaraderie are wonderful takeaways.

    Do you bring a WIP or write fresh material right there?

    The venue looks lovely. Thanks for sharing this one.

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  2. We brought the first ten pages, got feedback from Paula and Hallie and our fellow attendees; then we revised based on that feedback. We also had a couple of sessions honing our pitches and presenting them to the group. I'm a bit shy about doing verbal pitches, so that was good practice for me!

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  3. Kathryn, although I got started on this road to writing via a writer's conference and attended several more, I'd never attended a retreat until a year and a half ago when the agency that represents me held one in southern California. I went with grave misgivings and left asking "when's the next one?" We all need to recharge our batteries and get a fresh perspective on what we're doing, and that one gave me just that opportunity. Glad your retreat was good, as well.

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    1. I know, right? I'd always considered the idea of a retreat as something a bit too self-indulgent and Zen for me to consider. Now I'm already looking forward to the next one!

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  5. Oh, to be able to edit comments . . .

    People take vacations to work on their golf and tennis game. What's wrong with a writing vacation that's tax deductible? Going to a beautiful place and doing something you love. The very definition of R&R. I am looking at one in Wisconsin next year.

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    1. Ditto for me on the editing comments thing. Would it kill Blogger to add an Edit button? :)

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  6. If you're really slick, you will write out your comment in Word before getting in the little window. Not me. You gotta take me typos and all.

    Sounds like a wonderful retreat. First ten pages, eh? That's getting right down to the nitty-gritty. I'll bet the pitching sessions were great. Essentially, whatever you're doing, you should be able to tell somebody what it is in a matter of a few words. It causes us to focus on the heart of the matter.

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    1. I was interested to see how the pitching process really seemed to help people get a better focus on their stories, Jim. A few people even realized that they needed to change the type of story they were writing.

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    2. I have a real problem with "the pitch" because I'm not really pitching it to anyone. However, I was always pitching throughout my working life (contract writing jobs). Having nearly finished with my opus WIP, I now see how central "the pitch" is to everything. Now I'm convinced that a writer needs to have that "face-in-the-mirror" pitch moment as early on as possible. As you indicated, it could be so illuminating that you might have to change your entire book. I can see how all this connects to JSB's "writing from the middle" process. Fortunately my next book ideas are loose enough that I should be able to proceed accordingly.

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