Summer Retreat

28 Jun

I am a member of The Coeur du Bois Chapter of Romance Writers of America.  I often refer to it as a small but mighty chapter.

Last weekend was the Coeur du Bois annual retreat.

We spend the weekend at a cabin.  There is a cost of sixty dollars.  This covers the rental expense of our lodging and food.  It isn’t a fundraiser; it’s a perk of membership.

Janis McCurry served as president of the chapter several years ago.  During her tenure, she and her board began the summer retreat.  The first retreat was split between two cabins.  One location was the McCurry family cabin on the shores of Payette Lake, and the other cabin belonged to Robin Lee Hatcher.  The two groups came together during the day to work.

The original idea was to use this time to brainstorm and plot novels.  Some members noticed that it was difficult for writers to take suggestions on current works in progress.  It was decided that an easier approach would be to plot the writer’s next project.  That way no fingers would be crushed by others’ suggestions.

We’ve had Saturday film night.  The group watched a movie and had a discussion afterward about plot elements.  We’ve had Friday game night.  I’m going to confess, I hated the Friday night games.  I didn’t see the tie to writing.  My feelings changed on the subject a few years ago—at a cabin in Crouch.  That was the last game played at retreat.  After the game, we even coined a phrase.  “What happens in Crouch, stays in Crouch.”  Our chapter has changed that saying to, “What happens at retreat, stays at retreat.”

An optional Thursday night was added and many members decided to make it a long weekend.

Through the years, the retreat has changed to meet the needs of the members attending.

I can’t go into the details of what happened during the weekend.  “What happens at retreat, stays at retreat.”  But I am going to share a tremor-inducing moment called Power Hour.   A timer was set and we worked for an hour, uninterrupted.  As I have stated, retreat is to serve the individual member.  During that hour, people did what they wanted.  The keys of laptops clicked, there was the sound of pages being turned, fingers brushed over reading devices, research was conducted, people slept.  During the Power Hour, the cone of silence was on.  If you needed to talk to someone, it was done away from the main living area of the cabin.  There was something about having that timer going.  There were four or five Power Hours each day.  People could continue to work on their projects at other times, and many did.  There was just no guarantee of quiet.

During the weekend, I managed to complete a scene that has driven me insane for over a month.  I wrote seven pages, which is huge for me.  I read a book.

When we had breaks from Power Hour, we met in a small group to apply the Hero’s Journey to The Hunger Games, and Bet Me.  I read someone’s plot outline and discussed it with them.  In a small informal group, we helped an author with some plotting issues on their next project, and listened to a new author’s first three pages.

My writing partner and I had two meetings with Beta readers to discuss our work in progress.  They’d been given the manuscript ahead of time, and had a few suggestions to improve our novel.

It was a busy weekend.

Retreat is special because it gives writers time to focus on…writing.  Most people leave retreat feeling rested and revitalized.  I am happy to take part in this event. There are chapters too large to do something like this.

It was amazing how much was accomplished during that time.

My critique group sees the benefit of retreats.  We have a fall and a spring retreat.  We stay in Boise, check into a hotel Friday night, and stay until Sunday.

Have you considered making arrangements for a writers’ weekend?  What things would you need to do in order to have a successful retreat?


Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Idaho


22 responses to “Summer Retreat

  1. johannaharness

    June 28, 2012 at 6:27 AM

    Thanks for sharing about the retreat, Lynn. It sounds amazing!

    • Lynn Mapp

      June 28, 2012 at 12:21 PM

      Johanna, it was amazing. It’s good to get things done.

  2. Janis McCurry

    June 28, 2012 at 7:18 AM

    The key is that the weekend is all about YOU as a writer. Not as a wife, mom, job member. It’s enriching to the soul.

  3. Liz Fredericks

    June 28, 2012 at 7:39 AM

    Sounds like an excellent and productive retreat, Lynn!! I agree ~ time away is sometimes exactly the right catalyst for new thoughts.

    • Lynn Mapp

      June 28, 2012 at 1:01 PM

      Hey Liz, it was a productive retreat.

  4. Peggy Staggs

    June 28, 2012 at 8:26 AM

    Getting away is so helpful to me. Just the change of scenery is stimulating. Glad you had a good time.

    • Lynn Mapp

      June 28, 2012 at 12:22 PM

      I got a lot done. That should happen on a good retreat.

  5. Jenn

    June 28, 2012 at 8:27 AM

    My first retreat was a wonderful experience! It was invigorating to spend the weekend with a group of supportive, intelligent, and fun women. The power hours were downright amazing and I’ve incorporated them into my daily routine. You’re right Janis – taking off the mom/wife hat and being able to focus just on myself and my writing was exactly what I needed. Thanks to everyone who helped put the weekend together!

    • Lynn Mapp

      June 28, 2012 at 12:24 PM

      Jenn, I’m glad you had a wonderful experience during retreat. I’m trying to work the Power Hour into my day, but I’ve only had limited success. I’m going to keep trying. It was indeed powerful.

  6. stephaniebergets

    June 28, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    The Power Hours were amazing. I wrote my way through a plot point problem and got more editing done than in the last few months, all the while enjoying the company of a terrific group of women and one very brave man. Thanks to the people who worked so hard to make this so fun.

    • Lynn Mapp

      June 28, 2012 at 12:51 PM

      Those Power Hours were wonderful! The board does a great job in pulling this event off.

  7. maryvine

    June 28, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    I’d like to join the retreat one day. I get anxious about leaving my husband too long, but maybe part of the retreat would suit. A different setting does certainly help the creative juices flow. During my summers I try to get away to a creek or river and get some creative juices flowing. Glad you had a great time and got through a hard part in your story. Thanks, Lynn.

    • Lynn Mapp

      June 28, 2012 at 12:57 PM

      Mary, the retreat is a great experience, but…not if you’d worry about your husband. You should try an overnighter instead. If you have a critique group you might want to try it out with a small group first.

  8. Corina Mallory (@corinamallory)

    June 28, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    It was really a wonderful weekend. I didn’t get a ton of new words written, but the group helped me work through a critical plot point that had blocked me for months. It’s such a smart, kind, amazingly generous group of writers. I feel very lucky to have found CBC.

    • Lynn Mapp

      June 28, 2012 at 12:58 PM

      Corina, CBC is a wonderful group. I know you will be a great addition to the group.

  9. Meredith Allen Conner

    June 28, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    I’ve only been to the retreat once, but I loved it. So much fun!!! just to be around other like minded people is energizing and rewarding.

    • Lynn Mapp

      June 28, 2012 at 1:00 PM

      People asked about you. I didn’t tell them how much fun your having building your house. It is great to be with people that are like-minded.

  10. Mary Hester

    June 29, 2012 at 7:02 AM

    I wrote more at retreat than I have in the previous two months. It was amazing – and Lynn you were a great roomie. What I learned from being with so many writers is that my first draft doesn’t have to look any particular way. I can add the setting, the emotional content and all that stuff later. It freed me up to pursue my story.

  11. Lynn Mapp

    July 2, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    Hi Mary, retreat is the place where you can get a lot of work done.

  12. lynncahoon

    July 3, 2012 at 5:09 AM

    I do a mini retreat with a writer friend when she comes into town or signs close enough for me to drive. This spring we went to Nashville – I played author assistant for her signing, we celebrated my recent sale, and we got some power hours (love that idea) of writing done.

  13. Lynn Mapp

    July 10, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    Lynn, it sounds like fun. It’s always good to spend time with like-minded people.


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