This past summer I attended my first writing retreat. Although my intentions were to enhance my budding freelance writing career, these retreats aren’t solely for aspiring writers. Anyone wishing to express themselves creatively in an inspiring venue with other like-minded individuals should consider one of the many out there.
I chose to attend one in Venice, Italy. The women in my group came from all over the world to embark on a journey that I feel confident in saying on their behalf, was more than any of us could have expected. Here are a few reasons why.
1. You can travel to cool places.
Although I was fortunate enough to make the voyage all the way to Italy, there are plenty of retreats in the US.
Most retreats include writing workshops for a few hours then provide optional sightseeing itineraries for the rest of the day. Rest assured, you won’t be sitting in a classroom writing the whole time. The opportunity to be inspired and experience the local sites will also be included.
2. You get to meet like-minded individuals.
In my experience, the women with whom I had the pleasure of spending three cappuccino-fueled mornings with, writing our hearts out, all ventured to Italy solo.
Everyone coming from different corners of the world, ages ranging from 20-60 something, only a few of us interested in writing as a part of our career paths, all were intent on putting the pen to paper.
The heartfelt, raw emotions poured from each of us and after a very short period of time, we were no longer strangers.
After the retreat, a subset of us created a virtual writing group to motivate one another to keep up with our writing. We plan to schedule sessions via a video conferencing platform and write our pieces prior, allowing us ample time to share.
I think we all left Venice knowing that we would somehow remain in close contact with writing as the glue and not just via social media.
3. You can overcome fear and self-doubt.
One of the most common blocks for writers or most in general is wondering if your work will be good enough and the fear that comes with sharing it publicly.
During the retreat, the host would give us a prompt or topic and we would free write for a specified amount of time. In this scenario, the most raw, unedited emotions spill onto the paper like liquid gold.
There’s no time to overthink or to be concerned with proper grammar and spelling. Instead you write what comes to mind and in most cases share it with the group, which was intimidating at first, but as we became familiar with one another, it was more comfortable.
4. You can uncover new insights.
Writing allows us to process our emotions in a way that we hadn’t before and uncover new insights. At first mention of this one prompt, A Leap of Faith, something extremely personal came to mind immediately however it’s one I continuously battle with.
I even continued to fight myself, attempting to consider alternate ideas just to avoid writing about it and more than anything sharing with others. But it kept coming back to haunt me. Instead of suppressing it any longer, I chose to remind myself why I was there and that in order to keep with the theme of releasing fear and self-doubt, I did just that!
As I shared that piece with the group, I could feel my legs shaking and am sure my voice was cracking, but I kept going. The release that followed was powerful and that moment in itself paid for the trip! I might even publish it one of these days.
5. You can bring home the ultimate souvenir.
Of course I purchased a few of Italy’s Murano glass souvenirs but I also brought back more than just a few wine stoppers.
Not only do I have an amazing group of new friends to visit in Tel Aviv, Canada, New York City, and California but also recognize that I am capable of expressing myself without letting doubt interfere.
What I gained from this experience with this group of women, who had no previous introduction, revealed our most personal experiences and deepest emotions to one another, continues to give me an incredible amount of inspiration.
To me, that is the ultimate souvenir and worth every euro!