How to Host Your Own Stay-at-Home Writing Retreat

productivity Mar 15, 2021
Host a Stay-at-Home Writing Retreat

I love the idea of going away to a cabin in the mountains or a cottage on a lake or a beach house by the ocean to write. But let’s be real—how many of us actually get to do this?

In all the years I’ve been writing, I have only sequestered myself in a cabin to write by myself once. Granted, it was glorious. But during the years when I was raising four sons and holding down a job, it wasn’t feasible time-wise or financially to steal away for a weekend to write.

A few years ago, I created a work-around. I scheduled a weekend for a stay-at-home writing retreat. It may not feel as special as cloistering yourself in an inspiring, remote location, but it can be a practical way to get a lot of writing done.

I'm getting ready to host my next solo, stay-at-home writing retreat. Here's how I'm doing it:

Set a Date

About a month before my retreat, I identified two weekend days that I could block off for writing. I let those closest to me know the dates I had set for my writing weekend.

Sure enough, as soon as I booked the date, I got an invitation to do something else on that same weekend! I had to steel myself and say, "I'm not free that day. Can we pick a different one?"

If writing isn't your full-time gig, it's easy to minimize the time you give it. Resist the urge to give away your days!

Set Goals 

Once you've scheduled your retreat, think about what you most want to accomplish during it. Depending on where you are in your memoir writing journey, you may want to use your retreat to outline your memoir, edit chapters you've already written, or straight up write like crazy.

I plan to use the majority of my writing retreat to actually write. This is easier than it sounds. In my mind, I envision opening my laptop and pecking away at the keyboard in a continuous flow of thoughts and words.

In reality, I have to prepare myself to write for an extended period. This means shopping for my favorite foods for the weekend—mostly healthy stuff to keep my brain and body fueled.

I also make sure I have candles, some go-to playlists on Spotify, and comfy clothes to wear. 

Make an Agenda

Before my retreat, I create an agenda, just like I'd receive if I went to a guided writing retreat. I build in timed segments for head-down writing. I schedule walks and meals and snacks to help pace myself to stay focused and productive during the intense work periods.

I set an end time for each day, and I leave about 15 minutes before I shut down to figure out what I want to work on the next day. If I don't pre-determine my next start point, I'll spend too much time re-reading what I've written. I'll end up down the editing rabbit hole, and that's not the goal of my writing weekend. My goal is to write. I'll edit another time.

At the end of day one, I try to do something completely unrelated to writing—watch a movie, take a bath, anything relaxing to rest my brain. I get a good night of sleep so I'm ready to go at it again the next day.

Track My Progress

For day two, I may mix up the pacing and start with a walk to get my energy up. I'll alternate between longer writing segments and shorter writing sprints. Setting a timer and tracking my progress helps me stay focused and productive. 

By the end of the weekend, I evaluate my progress, determine what my next steps need to be, and schedule my weekly writing time to keep up the momentum.

Making time for a stay-at-home writing weekend helps me make serious progress on my project without breaking the bank or using up precious vacation time. It also helps me prioritize my writing goals. Writing a memoir is important to me, and it's up to me to make time for it.

How about you? Is there a two-day (or even just a half-day) that you can block on your calendar now for a stay-at-home writing retreat? Drop by the Write Your Own Life Facebook page and let me know your dates. I’d love to cheer you on!

Ready to get started writing about your own life but need a little help to get started? Download my free PDF, “7 Quick Tips to Get Started Writing Your Own Life.”


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