Four times a year the biweekly writing group I belong to takes a writer’s retreat. Our group of seven ranges in age from 39 to 64 years. Some have young kids, others older, like my YA’s.
We write in different genres and have a wide gamut of ‘real’ jobs, but through these retreats we have bonded together like writing sisters, or writing comadres, (kind of like the word comrade, but much closer).
Sometimes the retreats are for one day and other times it’s for a week. It sounds like a lot of time away for women who are mothers and spouses, but taking time out for writing and ourselves is important to all of us.
After this weekend I thought about what transpired and realized that women writers often need the relational support of other women writers. We spend so much time in isolation, during early morning hours or late nights squeezing in as much writing as possible between kids, spouses, and family life that we need time with other women who understand us.
This past weekend we spent our winter retreat in the Santa Ynez Valley, in a working vineyard, surrounded by oak trees, snowcapped mountains, and undulating rows of grape vines. Horses, mud hens and jackrabbits enjoyed the surrounding land and the huge pond, with its requisite rope hanging from a tree limb, outside our place.
Through connections we enjoyed this retreat free of charge. That’s how we find our locations, someone knows someone, who knows someone and we usually end up with a super reduced rate or no charge almost all the time.
On the first night, our ritual is to each light a candle and verbalize our intention for the retreat. Sometimes it’s simply to rest and recharge, other times it’s to draft a few poems, or to work on a manuscript. And there is always chocolate, wine, and cheese. Yes, we treat ourselves well.
Many times, when we are having meals or sharing our work, we get emotional and let it all out. There are many listening ears, shoulders to cry on, many hugs to give and receive. It’s a safe place to be.
From our retreat I learned that strong women writers have the following qualities. They :
- Ask for the wisdom of others
- Nurture themselves
- Know when to give a hug and not judge
- Encourage, validate and edify others
- Are honest with their feelings without tearing down someone else
- Are women who inspire
- Respect themselves
- Celebrate others success
- Demonstrate grace (the exercise of love, kindness, mercy)
- Teach you something
- Keep on writing, keep persevering
All writers need a retreat, heck, all women need retreats of some sort just to recharge, so they can keep going forward with life and responsibilities.
How can you take a retreat for yourself this year?