Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fun & Inexpensive Ideas For Writing Retreats!

Need to get away from your hectic life to write? Well, I've got the perfect solution for you. A writing retreat! What is a writing retreat, you ask? It is a weekend (or more) where you go away from the house and write. You can go alone, with a friend, or with a group of friends. You can spend that time brainstorming, or you can add words to your WIP. You can even spend your time editing if you so desire.

I just got back from a writing retreat I took last Monday through Wednesday with a writer friend from church. You can read about my experience here. What I will say is....IT WAS TOTALLY AWESOME, DUDE! Every writer needs a writing retreat - to collect your thoughts, to have focused time with the keyboard, to let your creativity fly uninterrupted.

So here's the thing, when Casey asked me what I was writing about for this post, I had no idea. So, I told her just pick something for me to write about and post it in the Weekend Edition. Surprise! I was assigned the topic of fun and inexpensive writing retreats. Yay, Casey! That's a fun topic!

And challenging.

So I divided up writing retreats into three categories, according to the size of your pocketbook.


  • A day at Panera Bread or Starbucks. For the cost of a meal or drink, you can hang out and write to your hearts content. 
  • A day at the library. Tuck yourself away at your library for some quiet time!
  • A morning/afternoon at your local park. Grab your lounge chair and sit in the shade with your laptop. Take a cooler with drinks and snacks!
  • Museum
  • A friend's house who is on vacation :)
  • Hotel or hospital lobby?
  • A room or rooms at your church. For an overnight retreat you could take air mattresses, order pizza, and have some fun! 
Local Park

  • A hotel room over the weekend.
  • Rent (or borrow) an RV and head out to a state park. Depending on the size, you can fit up to 6 people in one of those!
  • Rent a cabin at a state park. For about $60-$100 a night, you can sleep around 4 people and be surrounded by God's creation and inspiration.
  • Again, a friend who has a lake house or a time-share they aren't going to use.
  • There are church-run retreat places that will allow you to rent rooms. Often, these places include meals.
    State Park
    A nice RV
  • Stay in a treehouse! Sleep two per treehouse and gather together for brainstorming and eating. 
  • Try a Bed & Breakfast! Erica Vetsch just went on a writing retreat with Mary Connealy and stayed in an awesome B&B. Check it out here.
  • Some retreat places are especially designed for writers, such as The Porches on the James River in Virginia.
  • How about a Georgian house overlooking Schull Harbour in West Cork, Ireland? Uh, yes! Check it out here.
The Blue Belle Inn
The Porches
So I've given you a few ideas on how you can fit a writing retreat into your budget. Do a babysitting swap with a friend if you have young children. Fix your husband some fantastic meals as a bride. Get creative and find a way to sneak out of the house for your own personal writing retreat! You can do it!

Anyone have some great ideas for writing retreats? What was the best retreat you have been on? What made it awesome?

This post is brought to you by
 Sherrinda Ketchersid

Sherrinda is wife to "Pastor John" and mother to three giant sons and one gorgeous daughter. A born and bred Texan, she writes historical romance filled with fun, faith, and forever love.


Joanne Sher said...

Okay - I think I need to do one of the "day" ones before school gets out - and I'm running out of days! LOVE this post.

Jessica R. Patch said...

Fun ideas! Spring for a beach condo or house. I'd like to do that.

I've taken my ms to the pool (w/o) my kids. That was relaxing...until the wind blew. :)

Anonymous said...

Sherrinda, what a fun post. Am I terrible t say I've never been on a writing retreat? I would love to take one. Somewhere. My hubby might even agree to let me go for an overnight one sometime.

I've done day retreats to Panera--hired a sitter for the kids and grabbed java and, later on, a salad. That was a productive time, but I got a little distracted people watching. :)

Ireland, now tha would truly be a SQEE retreat!

Lisa Jordan said...

Such fun ideas! I think I'd love the beach one the best, but day retreats are great when time and money aren't available.

My favorite retreats have been the My Book Therapy retreats. Those were intimate working retreats, but they still allowed me to get away and work on my WIP.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Lisa, you reminded me. I HAVE been on writing retreats. I've loved the MBT retreats. Okay, so there is my favorite--work, learn, meet wonderful writers. Great retreat!

Lindsay Harrel said...

I haven't really ever done this, but I've been considering getting a hotel for the weekend, just myself, and writing. I would need to go to a hotel WITHOUT Internet access, though, or else I might spend the whole time online. I'd still have my iPhone but it's easier to leave that in my purse. If I'm writing on my computer, the Internet is like...right there. So tempting. :)

Sounds like some great ideas!

And Jeanne and Lisa, I hope to attend an MBT retreat someday! Deep Thinkers looks like so much fun!

Erica Vetsch said...

I camp out at Panera or my local Dunn Bros. coffee shop on a regular basis. :)

I'm already plotting how to get back to the Blue Belle Inn. I am so very in love with that house!

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Sherrinda, you made my imagination come alive with this post! I would love a retreat and your ideas were great. I think I'm going to try to do one of these this summer :)

Mary Vee Storyteller said...

Let's see, how can I hint to hubby this perfect gift idea...

Wow, Sherrinda. Such fun!

Elizabeth Saunders said...

Thanks for this post, Sherrinda. Oh, I need to do one of these so bad! :-)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

JOANNE, you definitely need to do it before school gets out! You better hurry!!!! :)

JESSICA, oooooh, a beach condo sounds fabulous! I'd love that!

JEANNE, I know! I know! Ireland would be soooo cool! And I keep hearing about how awesome the MBT retreats are and I want to go some day.

LISA, I have GOT to go to one of those MBT retreats! I bet they are so good and helpful. What is the limit of people?

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

LINDSAY, I totally understand about the internet thing. It is so addictive, isn't it?

ERICA, I need to find a cool, hole in the wall coffee house. Not a hot spot like Starbucks, you know? And the Blue Belle Inn looks amazing!

CINDY, summer is a great time to get away. I hope you can get something planned that will be a ton of fun!

MARY, ooooo, I bet if you bat your eyelashes you could get your hubby to give you anything!

ELIZABETH, we all need one of these so bad! The time away is a MUST!

Ava Walker Jenkins said...

Greetings from Arizona.Cool ideas for this post. I have found from experience I really need more than one day for a true retreat. Knowing I have that second or third day to myself is so "freeing" that my brain tends to be more creative on day 2 and 3. At least that's what I tell my husband. :-)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

AVA, personally, I think you are spot on! But sometimes when we are so strapped financially, can't find a good time to get away from the family, or just need some quiet time, the mini-day retreat can work.

Of course, a week long retreat sounds the BEST! In the cool mountains...sigh. I'm thinking we should go for Colorado next time. After we get our books published and have a "travel fund"!!!!

Casey said...

This post is all kinds of awesome!

A couple I'd LOVE to do: hotel room for a weekend. SWEET! Hmm...family, are you reading this? Birthday gift?? ;-)

But I'd also love to spend an afternoon at the park. But I need a serviceable battery for my laptop first. Right now I'm attached to anything with an outlet. ;)

Sandra Stiles said...

I live in Sarasota, Florida. One of my favorite places to write is at our local museum. The Ringling Museum sits on the water. They have a terrace with tables and chairs. My husband brings his camera and takes pictures of the bay and other things while I sit and write. Since my mother lives with us it is difficult to get away for long periods of time so we go north about 40 miles and stay in a motel. My husband gets some work done, does some running and leaves me to write. We end it with a trip to a museum, beach, aquarium where I get more inspiration. None of these cost very much because summer down here is our off season. We can usually get a room for somewhere between $30-$50. It just requires some checking around. Some of our state parks have cabins to rent for $60.

Jan Cline said...

Love, love the tree house idea!!! I host two writers retreat a year in my area. We usually go to a house on a lake or in some woods somewhere. It's always a great time and we get lots of writing done plus some lessons on inspiration and imagination.
Good ideas you gave us - will have to try some of them!

Angie Dicken said...

So, guess how many can sleep in our camper... 10!!! Alley Cat retreat anyone??? ;) If only we all lived in the same part of the country and world (ahem, Karen)! We have plenty of outlets too...Case!

I would also love to go to a luxury hotel room with a view and just get room service and stay in my pj's all weekend. Oh my, that sounds worthy of saving up for!!

Fun post, Sherrinda!

Anonymous said...

I definitely treasure those times when I can get away to write. Thanks so much for this fun post. I think I will go plan my next retreat right now!


Gabrielle Meyer said...

I am looking forward to an MBT retreat in October, but, for now, just having a morning or afternoon alone in my house with the children at their grandma's is like a mini-retreat. I would love to go away for a couple of days to just write, but I'd need a buddy with me because I tend to think best when I can bounce ideas off other people. Great post! It leaves me dreaming... :)

Katie Dunn said...

At first I was like, "Hospital lobby?"
And then I was like, "Hospital lobby!" What a great idea! The potential for people watching is amazing, and you can probably be assured no one will bother you=)
Thanks for the ideas!

Casey said...

Angie...you had me at 10 seater camper and outlet. I'm already there. ;-)

Gwendolyn Hooks said...

My critique group has gone on several retreats at B & B's. We live in Oklahoma and we've traveled to Arkansas to a house that was part of a ranch. The last three have been at Maple House in Enid. At each one, we rented the whole house and each of us have our own bedroom. We write all day, eat dinner together, then critique at night. It's amazing how your mind focuses without the everyday distractions.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

What great ideas you ladies have. I love it.