How to get high on writing – five lessons learned from a writer’s retreat

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Being a writer is usually a lonely job (or a hobby as it is for this writer). You get an idea, you write some, you plot, you write more, and then you write, even more, you rewrite, you edit and at last you proofread. You are the lone wolf writer – until finally the day you have something to show the world.

But from getting the idea till you hold a product in your hand, you want to show to others, you have spent many hours in solitude. And you can easily give up. I almost did.

How to get high on writing – five lessons learned from a writers retreatChanging lane

A game-changer for me in my writing life was the day I decided to join a writer’s group. From that day on I was no longer a lonely writer with a passion that no one understood. From that day on, instead, I was a writer that came to learn fellow writers. I learned that writers are very supportive and helpful people, and above all, I felt the gift of being understood by somebody who struggled with same the things that I did.

Today I am a member of several online writing groups, and I have two writing buddies with whom I meet occasionally face to face to discuss writing, to beta read each other’s stuff and most of all to spend a good time together.

Changing to the fast lane

After a couple of meetings, we talked about meeting a whole day for writing. When planning, soon the day became two days, because you know you can’t drive after drinking wine, and no meeting without wine, of course. And very soon another day was added. This meant that the writing day turned into a full weekend from Friday until Sunday. Another writer, whom I knew of but had never met, was also to join us.

How to get high on writing - five lessons learned from a writer's retreat

I had never sat together with fellow writers to write, and now I had to spend a weekend with three people, that I barely knew. I was looking forward to the weekend, but who knew, if I was able to stand them for that long.

But the weekend came up, and every bit of reservations disappeared as soon as we started talking about our mutual passion. In fact, I learned more from the retreat than I ever expected. We wrote, we read pieces out loud, we read each other’s pieces and we discussed the texts and writing in general.

Five lessons learned from a writer’s retreat

This I what I learned.

#5 Writing together is productive

The fact that you are in a room with other people writing incites writing. It’s like going to the office. When you step inside and sit at your desk you work because that’s what you do when you go to work.

#4 Writing together makes you a better writer

You learn a lot from reading out loud, getting critiqued and discuss writing. This will inevitably improve your writing and make you a better writer.

#3 Writing together gives you quick answers

One of the benefits of writing together is that when you stumble upon a problem, you put out your question in the room, and you will get the answer right away. You don’t need to Google, you just ask.

#2 Writing together boosts your self-esteem

Often when writing we doubt or even hate what we’ve written, but having your story read by somebody else and that somebody else also being a writer and she likes what she’s reading, you come to believe that you may be a beginner, but you are not a hopeless writer. Sure your text will need some editing, but you are beginning to believe that maybe just someday you will have your story published.

#1 Writing together is great fun

The most important lessons from this great weekend of writing are that being together with people that make you laugh and feel good is invaluable. It’s like winning the lottery and putting all the money into your mental account. I felt great for many days.

All these lessons made me high on writing in a way that I had never felt before, and I am more motivated than ever to continue writing.

How about you? Are you a lone wolf writer? Did this post make you want to connect to fellow writers? And how about writing together? Please, let me know in the comments. I am eager to hear what you think.

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2 Responses

  1. Allie McCormack
    | Reply

    This is so ABSOLUTELY true!! And not just physical gatherings either… I attend a weekly write-in in SecondLife, a virtual game, and our avatars sit together in a library while we write in another window, and we come back and chat a bit in-world and then dive back into our manuscripts… and it WORKS! And our productivity is boosted enormously. We started doing this for NaNo last year, and it worked so well for us that we kept doing it every Sunday. Sometimes I will intentionally hold off doing a major or problematic (or highly emotional) scene until then, knowing that when I tackle it on Sunday it’s going to get done, and it’s going to be good, and I”m going to have whatever support I need, while I’m writing it.

    • Vibeke Mouridsen
      | Reply

      What a great idea to have an online write-in. Thank you for your thoughts on that.

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