Thursday, May 11, 2017

Retreat Tactics

May 5-7 was the Omega Toowoomba Chapter 2017 writers’ retreat, and what an amazing time it was. Yes, you heard right. A retreat. To write. ALL weekend. (I can detect some green vibes out there.)

For non-writers, an all-weekend writing retreat might sound somewhat indulgent. For we writers, it might seem a lot of work to organise, a little craziness shoving that many focussed creative folk into one facility, and a great deal of travelling effort, depending on your locale. But what does one actually do at a writing retreat? Isn’t it just like a mini-conference?

Well, I’m pleased you asked … 😊

Yes, we all gathered, were fed (without having to cook, yay!), wrote, and lapped up inspiring and insightful words from our guest speakers, Deb Porter (Breath of Fresh Air Press) and inspirational author, Mary Hawkins. On Saturday, we welcomed our day attendees, and later, held contemplative conversation around the fireplace. Sunday saw opportunity for powerful collective worship and prayer over our writing projects. But the thing that stands out to me most, is how different the writing-retreat experience is for each attendee.

For me, I loved the common themes unfolding through each session, whether focussed on the spiritual or practical tips in writing and publishing—and, of course, the collective support and encouragement of so many writers gathered in one place.
Here are some ‘retreat reflections’ by other attendees:

I didn’t expect to write, but fulfilled my priority to retreat—but that’s my stage of the writing journey. I’ve said many times that deepening friendships of this smaller group sustains me more than a full-on conference.
~Ruth Bonetti, author, performance coach, professional musician, teacher

[M]y favourite part was sitting on the deck in the sun drinking coffee and eating toast as we read the word individuality yet together. Or it could have been that feeling of family fun and support. Or the high drama of building fires. Or the fact my phone was off the grid. Writing? Was it about writing? Did someone say writing?
~Jo Wanmer, author, preacher, pastor, grandmother, bookkeeper

I really loved my publisher appointment with Deb Porter. I’d been struggling with plot problems in my novel for about eight months and it just wasn’t working. Talking through some of those issues with Deb really brought clarity. It was hard at first to realise that I would have to undo some of those scenes, but by the end of the weekend, I felt as if a load had lifted. Yes, I have a lot of work to do, but I now have a plan and know what’s needed.  If you ever have the chance to do a publisher appointment, go for it. You’ve got nothing to lose except those rascally story problems.
~Nola Passmore, editor (The Write Flourish), psychology academic, all-round nice girl and liberated writer

It was a great time of fellowship and encouragement. I left refreshed and recharged.
~Deb Porter, presenter, publisher (Breath of Fresh Air Press), editor and writer

The workshops inspired me to create stronger content and avoid lazy writing. I was encouraged to hear about the different ways to publish a book too. Probably my favourite aspect of the retreat was the fellowship of other like minds. It's such a treat to be around other writers and bounce ideas off each other and actually have time to sit and create. It was awesome! ~Charis Joy Jackson, missionary, author, actor, filmmaker

The best part was getting the drop on the news that the trilogy Integrate, Replicate, Activate might be moving towards a fourth book. ~Anne Hamilton, author, mathematician, editor, speaker

Having deep conversations with other writers about writing, soaking up the natural beauty that surrounded us, having time to write and being inspired to write, and joining together in worship and prayer, praying for each other’s writing journeys—and seeing that previous year’s prayers had been answered.
~Jeanette O’Hagan, writer, reviewer, editor, doctor, theologian and master of a heap of other things

Thanks fellow “retreatees”. I’ll close on a final thought that, amidst all the elements of the retreat, sums up the ultimate focus for such a weekend …


Adele Jones is an award-winning Queensland author. She writes young adult and historical novels, poems, inspirational non-fiction and fictional short works, along with juggling family responsibilities and a ‘real job’ in the field of science. Her first YA novel Integrate was awarded the 2013 CALEB Prize for unpublished manuscript. Her writing explores issues of social justice, humanity, faith, natural beauty and meaning in life’s journey, and as a speaker she seeks to present a practical and encouraging message by drawing on these themes. For more visit www.adelejonesauthor.com or contact@adelejonesauthor.com



16 comments:

  1. A fourth book in the Integrate trilogy? That's a great idea!

    I've recently come back from a retreat hosted by New Zealand Christian Writers. It was great, for many of the reasons you've detailed. I didn't get as much writing done as I'd planned, but I came back refreshed and enthused.

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    1. Pleased you also enjoyed a refreshing retreat, Iola. It can be such a perfect environment to recharge one's creative juices. And the potential 4th book ... it's more spin-off than sequel, but whether anything happens with it, only time will tell. ;-)

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  2. What a great time you all had. Thanks for sharing this good feedback with all the rest of us.

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    1. Thanks, Paula. It really was a wonderful weekend.

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  3. Thanks Adele, you did well to integrate the flurry of Messenger feedback, which was almost as much fun as being back there. I can recommend next year's retreat. I rescheduled Friday's students to the public holiday to free the time. Had no writing goals as I'd poured everything into my recent book but now I'm replenished for the next. Well, on the way...

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    1. Hmmm ... that thread ... giggle. It did get out of control rather quickly, but yes, much fun. So pleased you were able to relax and recharge over the weekend, Ruth. Your journey to publication has been a lengthy one. I'm looking forward to seeing what inspiration captures your interest for your next project.

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  4. Thanks for summing up all of those great reflections for us, Adele. The last couple of years I expected to do a lot of writing and then felt discouraged when that didn't happen. This time I didn't have any expectations that I'd write (except for all those thank you cards - LOL), but the conversations, encouragement, prayer, inspiring talks all helped get me on track. Thanks for all you did in organising it. Did someone say 'Retreat 2018'?

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    1. A pleasure, Nola. And yes, I'm getting that same sense, of keen interest in 'Retreat 2018'. (I'll share my ideas when we meet next, co-coordinator buddy. ;-) ) It's great you gained such valuable direction over the weekend. Next time, writing! :)

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  5. Thanks Adele - it's great seeing all those reflections together. And thanks to you, Nola, Deb, Mary, Joanne, Ro and the rest of the team that made the weekend such a wonderful experience. Definitely looking forward to next year :)

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    1. Thanks, Jeanette, and all those you've named who made the weekend such a success. Really appreciate the support of fellow/local authors, such as yourself, and acknowledge the effort of travelling/life-organisation that is required for you to attend. It is an investment, one I trust yields valuable rewards.

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  6. Sounds like a fabulous, productive time away! Thanks for sharing Adele (and other attendees!)

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    1. Thanks, Carolyn. It was a productive weekend, with so much to offer every attendee. (And as you can see, one filled with much fun and sharing.) It's always a delight to hear back positive reports from those who've gathered.

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  7. I always look forward to these retreats. It renews my love of story and ignites my creative passion. Deb Porter made publisher appointments less daunting and encouraged me to keep perusing my dreams. Thanks Deb and to everyone else who made the weekend inspiring!

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    1. So happy you were able to attend another retreat with us, Kirsten. Great to hear you gained encouragement and inspiration for your writing projects. Yes, definitely keep pursuing those creative dreams! :)

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  8. Thanks so much for sharing Adele. So encouraging to hear everyone's thoughts. One day I'll make it. Yes, the smaller retreats are more friendlier giving that special chance to have those one on one conversations. Plus the group sharing from the heart.

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    1. That would be lovely, Rita. The weekends really are such a great time to gather, learn, create and encourage. We'd love to have you join us.

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