Shelley Widhalm

Stay-cations as DIY retreats

In Shelley Widhalm, Vacations, Writing, Writing Discipline on June 15, 2014 at 11:00 am

Every time I have a vacation where I don’t have travel plans, I turn it into a DIY writer’s retreat stay-cation.

I lodge at my apartment. I write there and at the coffee shop. And I get my meals the usual way, home-cooked (thanks to my boyfriend) or out to eat. Instead of heading off to work and clocking in, I sleep in or laze around, go off to do some writing (usually two to three hours), take a long break and possibly do more writing (or editing).

I usually put in 20 to 25 hours during my stay-cation, as opposed to 0-15 when I’m working full-time. By the end of the week, I’ve accomplished something without spending a dime (except on coffee).

To participate in a stay-cation writer’s retreat, I’ve learned that there isn’t a need for mountain cabins, peaceful lakes or fancy hotels. All that is needed is a quiet place where work will not be interrupted, such as a coffee shop, mall, library, community park, hotel lobby or bookstore.

Here is some other advice for setting up a at-home retreat:

• Commit a certain amount of time to writing, such as three hours, but allow for 10-minute breaks every hour, or whatever meets your needs. Take a lunch break and return for another writing session.
• Set a goal for what you want to achieve by the end of the retreat, such as writing a certain number of chapters in your novel, writing a couple of short stories or working on some other writing project.
• Take a portable writing kit, so you have your tools on hand, such as a dictionary and thesaurus, books on the craft, notebooks, journals, pens and music.

And remember to clock in how many hours of work you accomplish, your word count and any other measures of achievement. Compare what you achieved with your regular writing session. This self-assessment will determine if your retreat was productive.

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  1. Thanks for the helpful tips, Shelley! I will use these for my next retreat. Great post.

  2. Reblogged this on Katherine Valdez and commented:
    Great advice for a stay-cation writing retreat.

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