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“My Tips For The Perfect Writing Retreat,” By Author My Ly

My Ly author interview about writing retreats
London-based My Ly is a big fan of retreats

‘All writers… can learn from attending a writing retreat’.

In this interview, London-based author My Ly – currently writing her first novel – lists the many benefits she has received from attending writing retreats in the US and the UK.

And she gives you her top tips to make sure you choose a retreat that works for you too…

How many writing retreats have you been to?

I’ve attended two in the UK and two in the US.

How have these retreats benefited you as a writer? (e.g. did they improve your writing in some way, or improve your confidence, or perhaps help you to get published, etc.)

Writing retreats can include critiquing workshops where ahead of the retreat you are usually sent a section of work from the other writers in your group.

You can prepare your comments and then discuss your feedback with the group face to face.

I always find these critiquing workshops extremely valuable because the more you understand what is working and not working in other writers’ pieces, the more you can critique your own writing effectively and hone your editing skills.

Getting to know fellow writers can also benefit your confidence and swapping suggestions over writing tips, techniques and competitions to enter is always helpful.

What do you get from a writing retreat that you just can’t get any other way?

They are a fantastic opportunity for you to get away from not only your usual writing spot but also the constant distractions of your everyday life to enable you to completely focus on your work-in-progress project. (Especially if the retreat includes all meals as part of their itinerary.)

Writing retreats are a great way of bringing people together with one common goal; to write, regardless of whether you are escaping from a busy family life, a hectic work schedule or perhaps you’ve just fallen out of love with writing and you’re looking for inspiration to get back into the flow of a regular writing habit.

Along with dedicated writing time, you can also receive support from like-minded writers who are going through the same process – they might also be experiencing a lack in confidence or facing similar challenges to you.

Fellow attendees can also offer a solution that you’ve not potentially thought about if they are agonizing over the same type of blockage.

As much as family and friends can support your writing journey, fellow writers are the only ones who can truly understand and empathize with your difficulty with the whole writing process. 

Depending on the specific location of the retreat, the venue itself and surrounding environment can be a real source of inspiration for your creativity.

What kind of people do you meet at writing retreats?

All types of writers from different walks of life and with various levels of writing experience attend writing retreats – and that’s part of the charm!

What does Amanda Saint bring to writing retreats that is unique to her?

Amanda brings her genuine passion, knowledge and expertise as a writer, publisher and mentor as well as her fun, bubbly and supportive personality. 

[Check out what Amanda herself says makes for the perfect writing retreat here.]

Her retreat venues are also held in fantastic locations, which means you can fully immerse yourself into your writing project.

What are the potential downsides of a writing retreat? What kind of writer might not benefit from them?

With any writing retreat, it is always only as good as the people organizing the retreat, the quality of the speakers and their workshop content as well as the other writers attending – but you can’t necessarily know the quality of all of these aspects in advance.

You also don’t know if the group of writers will bond with each other or not until you attend the retreat. However, since everyone is attending for the same (or similar) reasons, you’re bound to get on with at least one other writer!

Potentially they can be a bit more challenging for extremely shy and introverted writers compared to those who find it easier to socialize and meet new people – however all writers will still find value and can learn from attending a writing retreat.

What advice would you offer to writers who are thinking about whether a writing retreat would be good for their writing or their career?

It is always useful to check out any reviews for the possible writing retreat you are thinking of attending and to find out more about the speakers to consider what might be helpful for your own writing goals.

For example, are the speakers writers themselves?

Have they gone down the traditional publishing route or are they are self-published and which route do you think might work better for you?

Do they write in a genre that is similar to yours? How did they find their agent?

Having a chat to the speakers after their workshops or during the retreat breaks can usually give you some valuable insight or could perhaps even provide you with a future contact in the industry.

Understanding what the retreat itinerary is and what the content of the workshops are helps you to plan your day and attend those workshops that are most useful for you.

Whilst attending the writing retreat, use your time wisely to progress your work-in-progress project; this might be to achieve a specific word count, to network with other writers or to discuss and find a solution to a plot twist that you have not been able to solve by yourself.

If you’re motivated by having an ‘accountability partner’, it’s always useful to find a fellow attendee that you get on with and someone that you want to keep in touch with after the retreat who can give you a nudge when you might need it and most importantly keep you on track for actioning that writing goal that you said you would do!

Thank you My Ly for that detailed run down of the pros and cons of writing retreats. Very thorough! 

If you’re interested in attending a writing retreat with celebrated creative writing tutor Amanda Saint, check out our upcoming retreat >>here

Read more about My Ly and her work by checking out her Twitter here

Read her interview with author Sarah Collins

Or check out her report on the 2018 Writers’ Day conference organized by The Literary Consultancy.