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A Writer’s Retreat

A peek into Michelle writer's retreat weekend, plus inspiration on how to plan your own.

May 20, 2021

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In this post, you’ll get a peek into Michelle writer’s retreat weekend, plus inspiration on how to plan your own.

A peek into Michelle writer's retreat weekend, plus inspiration on how to plan your own.

When I began writing my book, almost two years ago, I thought I’d defy the odds. That somehow, I’d be able to execute a quick turnaround.

But I don’t know who I was kidding. I’ve always favored the journey over the destination. So if this latest creative adventure insists on being a long one, I might as well enjoy it.

My book-writing timeline

I began plotting and character development in the summer of 2019, finished my first draft in July 2020, wrapped up edits at the end of 2020, and began querying literary agents in January 2021. If you don’t like math, don’t worry, I did it for you. I am 22 months in, and there’s still more to go.

As a first-time author, I have been learning, and of course, making mistakes along the way. But one of my missteps didn’t become evident until I had started pitching. I discovered that manuscript was way too long for my genre. About 40,000 words too long.

And so, it was back to my laptop for some major editing. As I saw myself nearing the finish line, I thought that a writer’s retreat would be just the thing to get me there.

The Setting for my Writer’s Retreat

Environment means everything to me. I am lucky to be able to work in a beautiful space when I’m home, so I knew that wherever I went would need to top it.

Other criteria: it needed to be somewhere warm, quiet, safe, and of course, inspiring.

I didn’t search too hard. I chose my favorite spot, possibly in the world: The Bohemian Hotel in Celebration, Florida, located just outside of Orlando.

There’s a reason I’ve stayed at this hotel more than any other (we’ve even taken refuge there during two Florida hurricanes). It is part of Marriott’s line of boutique properties called The Kessler Collection. Each property is different and designed with artists in mind.

A hotel designed for artists

Every time I step into the lobby of The Bohemian Hotel Celebration, I think, Hemingway wishes that he could have written from here. In every detail from the rocking chairs out front, to the beautiful patio that overlooks a picturesque lake, you’ll find a mix of old Florida charm, nature, and art, around every corner.

The pale lavender walls in their guest rooms give you a sense of calm and relaxation, the second you step inside. And if you’re lucky enough to stay in one of their lakefront rooms, you’ll be treated to a piece of living, breathing art.

Creativity in movement

When I’m home, I walk for 2-3 miles almost every day and I consider it an essential part of my creative process, so I love that I was able to keep that part of my routine. I love my neighborhood at home, but the walking trail that runs around the Celebration Hotel and Lakeside Park is such a treat to experience.

It boasts breathtaking views of the hotel, the town, and lots of wildlife. The only downside is that it’s never much of a workout because I stop every two minutes to take photos.

The Goal

I left for this retreat with a very specific goal in mind. To reduce my manuscript to 90,000 words.

Seemed totally doable. It had taken me weeks to go from 132,000 words to 106,957 words. Four, uninterrupted days seemed like more than enough to cut another 17,000. 4,250/day? Easy. Hand me a red pen.

The Lesson

In all good fiction stories, there’s a main character who thinks they know exactly what they want, but ultimately, their journey teaches them the lesson they actually needed.

Such was the case for me, the main character of this story. I was so narrow-minded in my quest: To get away, and to reduce my word count to 90,000 words.

But what I hadn’t considered was that my surroundings would relax me, make me slow down, and ultimately restore me. 

This trip gave me momentum, confidence, a renewed excitement. I’ve written every day since I’ve been back, and my dread has been replaced by this thrill to open my Word doc and keep going.

I know that this book is going to be better because I gave myself the time and space to go deep and to give it my best energy. 

Your Writer’s Retreat

Whether you are writing a book or working on another creative project, I want to encourage you to give yourself the gift of a reset. You can’t always get away and stay in a beautiful hotel, but you can create a sacred environment that will give honor to your project, and to yourself.

Here are some ideas for you to try at home:

– Light a special writing candle (the one seen in my video is called Novella, from Anecdote Candles—an amazing gift from my friend Dawn Nicole).
– Add a bouquet of fresh flowers to your workspace.
– Create a playlist of songs that make you smile.
– Write outside, on a picnic blanket, a porch, or a deck.
– Make a special mug of coffee, a new blend of tea, or a cocktail.
– Search Youtube for ambient scenes, and let it play on your television in the background. I love Candy Music Room and Calmed by Nature.
– Invite a creative friend over for a working date.
– Take a bath or a luxuriously long shower and use an unnecessary number of scrubs and soaps.
– Give yourself the gift of ordering takeout for every meal, for an entire weekend.
– Go out for a long walk. Listen to a podcast like The Sh*t No One Tells you about Writing or an audiobook like On Writing, by Stephen King. (affiliate link)

What are you writing or creating? What methods have you been using to sweeten your journey?

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