“So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say.” ― Virginia Woolf
Do you remember the first time you wrote a note to someone? Maybe you were in the third grade and were madly in love with the cute little girl/boy sitting a couple of desks away from you. The spelling was wrong, and it wasn’t a complete sentence. You folded it and put it in your pocket. As soon as no one was looking, you slipped the note into their desk.
Do you remember sending a Birthday card to your grandmother or handing one to your mother or father? They didn’t care about your spelling or grammar. They were so happy to receive the card.
It is easy for children to write because no one criticizes them. As we grow older and society expects us to write with clarity, we demand it ourselves. My closest friend tells me that she writes crap. I don’t believe her.
You don’t have to have a degree to write. Anyone can put pen to paper and have fun. If writing is your career and you report as a journalist, you need a set of skills requiring you to get a degree. If you are writing for fun, the best way to improve your skills is to attend a writing workshop/retreat.
I am a retired English as a Second Language Instructor (ESL), not a professional writer. I taught for forty-two years and began to write after my retirement and the death of my husband. I started journaling, writing letters to my husband in heaven, and began blogging. I wanted to improve my writing skills and interact with other writers hoping that some fairy dust would land on me.
I decided to attend writing retreats/workshops. I will share what I learned in the hope that you can find one for you.
Are you a woman and only want to attend workshops/retreats that offer women an open environment to express themselves? Women workshops are for those who need time away from family responsibilities and work-related pressures and want to share their experiences in a setting with other women.
Retreat or Workshop
Do you want to attend a retreat or a workshop?
Retreats can last from four days to a week. There are no classes to attend. There are optional get-togethers for conversation and sharing your project with those you choose. Writers participating in a retreat find quiet spaces to work on a project such as a novel or a memoir. A retreat provides you with the uninterrupted time and inspiration which you might not find at home.
Workshops can last two or three days. You check in on a Friday night and check out on a Sunday morning. Saturday consists of three hours of writing in the morning and three hours in the late afternoon or early evening. They sometimes feature a known writer who will meet one on one with the participants and critique their writing samples. The instructor or coach leads the participants with some ideas to help in their writing. Participants will share a piece of work that they have been working on with other group members.
Do you want to spend your time in the mountains or by the sea? Do you want to stay at a dude ranch in Arizona? How about a beach house on the east or west coast of the United States or a resort in Costa Rica? Do you want to hang out in a chalet in Switzerland or at a vineyard in Italy? Do you want to stay in historical hotels inhabited by ghosts or a castle in Spain?
Do you want to take Yoga classes? Do you want to hike, ride a horse, run, or meditate? How about a massage, facial, or a swim? Do you want to sleep in a castle and live the life of nobility? Do you want to take day trips to places of interest and culture?
There is a retreat/workshop for all of the above. Look for the one that best suits your needs. Are you looking for one that includes sleep accommodations and food? The more amenities, the more expensive your experience will be. Some retreats /workshops will offer sleep accommodations with their retreat fee. Some retreats will offer a variety of accommodations if they are located in a bigger town or city. You will be responsible for reserving your own room. Your fee might include all of your food, breakfast and lunch only, or dinner twice.
I attended a workshop for one week in England. We made our own breakfast: cereal, coffee, toast, egg, and tea. They broke us into four groups for dinner, gave us a menu, a recipe, and we cooked. Another team washed the dishes and cleaned up. We had to wash and clean from the night before. It brought us together, and I got to know my team members much better. I learned how to saute onions for the gravy the English way. I was the only American.
Level of expertise
Are you just beginning your writing adventure? Have you published a book? Are you working on a memoir? Are you just looking to be with other writers so that you can be inspired? There are workshops for all of these reasons. Choose carefully. Some workshops and retreats are for the more experienced writers: creative artists, choreographers, performers, and directors. Some require that you send in a writing sample before they accept you for the program. Some are for writers who need support for an event that has happened to them. Maybe a death in the family, a divorce, a lost job, or retirement.
I like to travel and to be with other women. I am not a professional writer but a coach who encourages all women to write. I like to have fun with my writing and share it. I want to make women feel comfortable at a workshop, and I want everyone to write because everyone can.
I was scheduled to attend two writing workshops this year: One in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and the other in Lisbon. Both of them were canceled because of COVID. I really missed these opportunities.
These past seven months have left many of us quarantined in our homes. Some of us may have lost our jobs and are educating our children at home. We are not able to socialize with our friends, and we find ourselves alone. This is a time to start writing.
If you are a non-published, newbie writer, please check out my workshop in Prescott, AZ, in October 2021. I hope we will have a vaccine for COVID by then.
Check out the following list of workshops and retreats that will be offered in 2021.