Why go away to Spain to write a book?
Every year some of my team and I travel to a beautiful white-washed village, nestled in the Andalucian Mountains, for one of our writing retreats.
I am often asked:
What do you do?
Why do writers have to go away to write a book?
How structured is it?
Can I get my book written in a weekend?
Well the truth is that lots of things happen on a writing retreat; the most obvious being writing. But if writing was as simple as having time and space, many authors would simply take themselves away to a location on their own and write (and some do).
But many even find that difficult. They put the needs and desires of those nearest to them first. Then their book keeps getting put on the back burner. Or perhaps they have a fear that has not been acknowledged, so they keep talking about their book, but never get around to writing it.
When you go on a writing retreat, shared with other like-minded people, you get the writing done and so much more.
There are the things you hope for, such as space to yourself. As well as time away guilt free, you can take care of your own needs. You can eat when you want to eat, rest when you want to rest, sleep when you want to sleep, and write when you want to write.
Then there are the totally unexpected things which come from the magic of sharing space with other beautiful souls, who are showing up and stepping up.
The other group members, the environment, and the facilitators all reflect back information that you might not get in your familiar space – and that is when the potential for transformation emerges.
Not only do you discover ways to transfer your knowledge to paper – you find ways to free yourself to be true to you.
Here are some of the things that happen on a writing retreat.
But you could do that anywhere on your own, right?
So why do our clients join us, and in particular: Why do they come to Spain?
Writing is a very internal and introverted process, and whilst many can write straight from their subconscious, many also require external stimuli. In our normal environment we may gain stimuli but often it is in time with the needs and wants of others, not your creative mind.
And often the wants and needs of others can take up far more time than you want to give, and so stimuli becomes a distraction.
On a writing retreat, the environment itself (who wouldn’t be inspired by this view?), the morning walks, evening meals, and even your room-mate provide you with constant access to external stimuli, with a mutual respect for your time and desire to write.
The facilitators and mentors will help you to pay attention to what works for you, and what doesn’t, to help you to put new habits into place, so that you are resourced to maintain the writing flow in your normal environment.
And through facilitation you can take time to tune into your own inner wisdom, the wisdom of the group, and find your voice, your flow and your style of writing.
And all the time, you can manage the critic that says ‘you can’t do that’, or ‘it is not enough’ or ‘you can’t spell for toffee’.
One of the things that our clients love about our writing retreats is the chance to mix with like-minded people who are on a similar journey.
Although you may do the writing part in isolation, we meet for walks, dinner and around the pool.
You move your body
Rebecca, our guide, takes the group on an optional walk from 9-10.30am, although few choose to miss it, as it’s a great way to start the day. Your body and mind will become engaged with empowering and inspiring views, stories from Rebecca and sharing our experiences with each other as we walk.
Having lived in the village and the local area for many years, Rebecca knows all the best places to go, and that invigorating walk each morning sets us up for the day. And sometimes, we come across some surprising opportunities to explore and engage with the local community.
I love the nuggets that come out during those informal conversations and the overall experience of being in a village that exists at a slower pace. Shops have rough times they will open, but there’s no guarantee of when, but you know that when they are open, they are fully present and ready to serve with an open heart and mind.
You can eat and drink
To write well, you need good food. Rebecca makes sure that there’s an amazing welcome pack on arrival and that you’re well stocked for breakfast and lunch. To end each day, we go to one of the local restaurants for dinner together, and as she speaks fluent Spanish, all dietary needs can be catered.
One of the hardest things in life is that you might be in full flow, and then it is a meal time that you feel obliged to share with family or friends. On the retreat you eat when you want to eat during the day. It is a great way to learn about what your body wants and needs when not governed by the needs of others.
Eating is very social. Dinner is a wonderful opportunity to share progress, insights and challenges. It is during these times that lasting connections are made.
It’s unlikely that you’ll sit at your computer or notebook and write 24/7, and the tranquil environment gives you the perfect time to think, plan, and ponder on your next steps. Now I say tranquil… and we often laugh as the odd donkey or rooster has something to say, and there’s no guarantee that the odd bit of drilling won’t occur in the neighbouring properties. And yet inside you will notice that you are more tranquil, more at peace and able to simply stop, listen and be curious about your own thoughts.
And for those that find this hard to do – they have the facilitators on hand to process your thinking externally.
You have coaching and mentoring
Whether you ask for advice or you’re simply sat around the pool chatting, our experienced facilitators are on hand to support your personal growth and the development of your book. No matter what anyone tells you, writing a book is not as easy as it sounds.
I’m the author of five books and an introvert by nature. I’ve always found writing easy and I know first-hand that when you put your thoughts into a book, you set yourself up for criticism. And I’ve had to learn how to turn that fear into courage. I think in logical steps and structure, and help authors understand the overall process and how to bring a book together.
Sheryl is the author of Manage Your Critic – From Overwhelm To Clarity In 7 steps, and she knows how hard it can be to ask for help. As an external processor herself, she found the process of capturing what she said into words difficult, and now supports others who find it easier to speak than write.
Rebecca, who is a writer, English teacher, Spanish speaker, and travel blogger, loves spontaneity and the story behind the person and location. She provides authors with information about the local people and places, and is always keen to listen to the story of the author.
And of course, unlike everyday life, these sessions and discussion don’t take place online or in a stuffy hotel room. They take place through a perfect blend of formal and informal coaching on the terrace, on the walks, by the pool, in the client’s room, or even over a glass or wine or two…
You get feedback on your writing
Many of our clients use this opportunity to get feedback as they write their book, allowing them to find their voice, explore the intention behind each chapter, and put the emotions into their words.
There is something magical when you share your writing and another human being gets it, loves what you have written, says that it makes total sense, or perhaps it stirs an emotion.
This year as we sat drinking coffee at a local café, one client was sharing some ideas for her book title, and one of the group became very excited about the word ‘easy’ being in the title.
This was news to the author. She found the subject matter she was writing about easy, and had no idea how much of an impact that one word could have on her potential reader.
And of course there is the criticism – the stuff that is not working. When you work with someone over five days, you get to know what works, and how to deliver feedback so that it is useful and resourceful rather than negative or soul destroying.
If you are someone who naturally finds feedback hard, we have Sheryl on hand to help you master your critic and turn this to your advantage.
You can swim
With a salt water pool solely for the apartments, this is the perfect environment to take a break. You can swim in the pool, sit on the edge, dangle your feet in the water, or sunbathe if you wish to do so.
Water is one of the five elements, and you cannot underestimate the power a short swim can have, or how simply sitting watching the sun glimmer off the ripples can give your body and mind a chance to rest and recharge.
The fact that you can quite literally take the weight off your body, and move around easily in the water gives your mind an opportunity to operate with a new perspective.
You can relax and retreat
As you can tell, the writing retreat isn’t just about the writing. The retreat is semi-structured so that you can do what you need to do, when you need to do it. When you’re not working on your book, you have the space to be, meditate, sleep, do yoga as the sunrises, or whatever retreating means to you, without worrying about anyone else but you.
And if you find it hard to relax, you can work with our facilitators or ask others how they do it.
One thing for sure – to write a book you have to be relaxed, and often in our busy lives we simply run from one task to another.
One client said, “I have had these blocks come up over and over again and by the time I get to speak to my coach the feeling and fear has gone, but the procrastination persists. Yet on this retreat we captured the behaviour in the moment and it couldn’t escape, so I was able to acknowledge the fear, accept it, release and set my intention. I came to the retreat knowing I wanted to write my book but not understanding why I kept losing motivation. I left understanding how I write, what kind of support I need, and I learnt how to ask for the right style of help.
Retreating also gives you the chance to experience a simpler life, and an opportunity to tune into your natural rhythm and process. This not only supports you when writing on the retreat but also when you return to support and inspire those you love.
You can build momentum in your book
Although you may not be able to write your entire book during your retreat in Spain, you can build momentum to get it done, and we’ll make sure that you leave with a plan for your next steps to get your message out there.
Some come on the retreat to finish their book and run through the final edits.
Some come to plan it out, to work out which book to write first, to unravel why they have talked about it for years and never got past thinking to do the actual doing.
Others use the time to translate their published book into effective content for online and future programmes that can generate them an income.
No matter where you are on your author’s journey, the retreat can be the space to gain momentum or sustain it.
Join us in 2018 for the next writing retreat in Spain
Now you know what happens on a retreat and why our authors come away to get support.
So we’d like to let you know that we’ll be back in our beautiful village in Spain for our next writing retreat on 20 September 2018, for 5 nights with a maximum of 8 clients to focus on their book. Are you ready to join us?
To reserve your place and find out more about our special launch offer, click here.
Thanks to Sheryl Andrews for co-writing this blog with me!