1. Writing retreats lead to deep transformative experiences, cracking us open and awakening us to new possibilities. Nothing is as powerful as walking away from our daily lives to enter a safe, sacred environment solely focused on enhancing and supporting our creativity. One of the things I love most about retreats is seeing peoples’ faces change from the first day to the last. They often look scared and defended and uncertain on the first day—but by the end of the retreat, their faces are gleaming with love, connection and openness.
2. You leave behind all the things that distract you from your writing. When we are freed from our to-do lists and the relentless pressure of the “undone,” we are free to focus on our heart’s desire: connecting with the deep place the truest writing comes from.
3. You leave behind your excuses. Making a conscious choice to commit to your writing for an intensive period of time focuses the mind and leads to breakthroughs in your work—and in your life.
4. You clear the decks of the routines and obligations that weigh us down and lead us to crave escape, rather than vibrant engagement in life. Escaping the habitual opens the doors to awakening and creativity. When we put ourselves in a beautiful place where the conditions are designed specifically to support and nurture us, we hone our focus toward what we really want.
5. Traveling is transformative and enables us to leave behind old, tired identities. As Joseph Dispenza says, in The Way of the Traveler: “When we move out of the familiar…we set in motion a series of events that, taken together, bring about changes at the very root of our being.”
6. Seeing a new culture awakens our senses and enables us to perceive the world with fresh eyes. What makes great writing “pop” is rich sensory detail. Traveling to a new place lets us see, smell, hear and taste a myriad of new experiences. When we enter a brand new environment, we continually notice the kinds of unusual, quirky details that make writing vivid and memorable.
7. Taking risks in life enables us to take risks in our writing. When I brought writers to Bali last year, I asked them to make the commitment to take a new risk every day. These ranged from tasting an unfamiliar food to starting a conversation with a Balinese person, from climbing under a waterfall to bartering in the market. We kept a log of our daily risks, and they got more brazen each day. These daily risks paved the way for us to take greater risks in our writing as well: approaching a previously taboo subject, trying out a new voice, reading a vulnerable piece out loud.
8. Traveling with an intention and a focus creates a far more meaningful vacation. When you travel with a purpose, your vacation is much richer than when you are simply go to relax or see the sights in a new place. And the fact that you are writing about your experiences guarantees a rich, lasting record of your adventures.
9. Living, working and playing with other writers quickly creates an intimate writing community. When you write intimately with other writers, you are deeply inspired by their stories. When another writer in the group is gifted at dialogue—able to evoke a vivid setting—or a memorable character—or is particularly brave about putting herself on the page—you learn to do the same through osmosis and example.
10. The new habits and friends you make at a writing retreat enrich your life for months and years to come. Students at writing retreats share a profound, life-changing experience. The bonding that happens at a retreat leads to lifelong friendships. People return home feeling refreshed, renewed, and deeply connected—to themselves and to an amazing creative community.