Need to make progress on your writing projects but can’t afford a retreat? Then let’s talk about how to create a free writing retreat.

How to Create a Free Writing Retreat | Looking for a way to get some writing done but can't afford to rent a cabin in the woods? Check out my tips for creating a free writing retreat!

Original photo by Kristin Ellis 

Now, I won’t say that you don’t regularly need a real retreat. You know, one where you get away and do the writing.

I love those, but I know that they can totally break the bank sometimes. In a perfect world, I’d pack up once a month and head off to the Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow, or St. Francis of the Woods.

But sometimes, you can’t get away. And sometimes, you just don’t want to spend the money that a retreat would cost.

Enter the free writing retreat.

Sometimes, you just don't want to spend the money that a retreat would cost. Enter the free writing retreat. Click To Tweet

Sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands and make it happen on your own.

So, if you think that your home couldn’t possibly be the sight of your next retreat, you’re totally wrong. And I’m about to share how you can get the same results from this free writing retreat.

How to Create a Free Writing Retreat

001: Block off time.

The major benefit of a real writing retreat is that you know the amount of time you’ll be away. You take a few days off work and head off to a place that is both quiet and inspiring, and then you settle in to do the work.

But if you’re at home, you probably rarely block off that kind of time to work on your creative projects.

That’s why I’m recommending that you block off time as the first step.

Pick as long as you need, though I’ll be honest — this free writing retreat works best when you have a shorter amount of time. Two days is much easier to manage than say, a whole month where your family is walking on egg shells around you because they need to be quiet while you work.

And you can only put off paying attention to household chores for so long.

So, talk with your roommates or family, and let them know that you’re blocking off some time. Then, when those days come, make sure you go straight to your quiet writing space, and start doing the work.

002: Clean your space.

On a good day, my office looks like a tornado ran through it.

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It’s not that I’m a naturally messy person. It’s just that I have so many piles of papers and notebooks that I’m working with at any given time. And if I have some mail that I need to attend to, well, it tends to sit until I’m ready to get to it.

So, in order to get the feeling of a real writing retreat, I know that I have to clean my space. It’s not the sexiest part of the free writing retreat, but it’s a necessary evil.

And once my space is cleared and ready for me to work, it’s much easier for me to dive into my projects and embrace the quiet space I’ve created for myself.

003: Set your intentions.

So, this may sound weird, but stick with me on this.

If you’re at home in a space where you’re accustomed to interacting with others or working on other things, it can be very easy to get distracted.

Don’t assume that you’ll be able to ignore real life without intentionally placing some steel in your spine for those few days.

Setting your intentions is a great way to make a promise to yourself that you will honor that time and space you’ve created and use it for writing. If you don’t, it’s very easy to get distracted.

Just because you’re having yourself a free writing retreat doesn’t mean that the world will stop spinning. You just have to set the intention to ignore that.

For me, cleaning my space is part of setting the intentions. It’s something that I do with the intention of making my environment good for writing.

004: Honor your time.

So, we all know what the road to hell is paved with, right?

Even with the best of intentions, it can be hard to make the free writing retreat happen. Trust me. I’ve abandoned many a free writing retreat halfway through the first hour.

You have to be relentless when it comes to defending this retreat, and if you’ve set your intentions, you know you have to honor your time.

You have to be relentless when it comes to defending this retreat, and if you've set your intentions, you know you have to honor your time. Click To Tweet

You have carved out this time for writing. Use it to write.

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Sure, emails will still come in. Your phone will ring. Everything else will feel like an emergency.

But you have to honor your time so that you can ensure you’re getting what you need out of this free writing retreat.

When you catch yourself thinking about other stuff, bring your focus back to writing. When you feel like you should go run that errand that you’ve been putting off, remember that this time is for writing. And when your family or roommates inevitably ask if you’d like to go out to lunch or something, remember that you need to be writing. Instead, agree to order in so you con’t get out of the mindset of your free writing retreat.

005: Cut out distractions.

It’s impossible to get stuff done when you don’t give yourself the freedom to do it.

Sure, you may feel productive when you’re working on one thing and then flitting over to your email, or answering text messages, but when it comes a writing retreat, those things are all distractions.

I like to keep my phone on Do Not Disturb most of the time anyway, and I think that it’s a good idea for that to be part of your free writing retreat prep work.

Sure, you may get an emergency call, but if it’s important, they’ll call back enough that Do Not Disturb will let them get through.

Also, if you’re the sort of writer who works in Google Docs, make sure that you don’t have a ton of tabs open. It can be really easy to open up Twitter in one tab, and then, before you know it, you’ve completely lost your day to shit posting.

006: Let others know what you’re doing.

One of the hardest things for non-writers to grasp is the need for quiet time and space. So if you want to make this free writing retreat work, you have to tell people what you’re doing.

If you don’t want to be disturbed while you’re working, then you have to tell your family and roommates what’s up.

(Admittedly, there is no way that my family would honor this. When I was living at home and going to college, it was a constant battle for me to get like 15 minutes where I could work on something because my parents would come in my room and tell me to come eat dinner or the house would just be too loud. So, I waited until everyone else went to sleep, and would work on stuff all night. This was not sustainable in the long term, as it turns out humans need sleep.)

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Most people will understand and leave you alone. Though, there are those who have anxious brain chemicals and they think that if they don’t come and remind you of a thing RIGHT THEN, you’ll forget about it completely.

You know what you’re working with when it comes to family and roommates, so plan accordingly.

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007: Acknowledge resistance, and bust through it.

There is a weird part of your brain that doesn’t want you to do what you want to do. When you have time and space to write your novel, part of your brain will resist.

When that happens, you have to keep going. Yeah, it sucks. But it’s also the thing that will keep you from ever finishing anything.

Sure, there’s very good reasons why you should take breaks.

But if you’ve only been writing for 20 minutes, you probably don’t need to go take a walk or make a snack.

And if you haven’t even started yet and you feel that weird bit of resistance in the back of your head and it wants you to take the rest of the day and just watch Netflix instead, KEEP WRITING.

Resistance is a weird thing and it makes us procrastinate and feel like we can’t do the things we want to do.

That’s false. You just have to bust through it all.

Resistance is a weird thing and it makes us procrastinate and feel like we can't do the things we want to do. Click To Tweet

Have you ever had a free writing retreat?

Have you created a free writing retreat? Do you like to take a few days and hole up in your house to write? What sort of ritual do you have when it comes to writing retreats?

4 Responses

  1. I love these tips! The idea of a writing retreat at at a great price point! Maybe I can block a day on Thanksgiving break!

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