How to Plan A Creative Retreat

Have you ever thought about taking yourself on a little creative retreat? Maybe you can spare a couple of days away from home and treat yourself to some dedicated creative time. Or If you can’t afford to get away or have the resources to take a whole weekend, possibly you could create a day long retreat right at home. A creative retreat is all about how you approach your day and what you do with the time that you have. You don’t have to have a huge dedicated amount of time though it is really lovely if you can.

The benefits of having a creative retreat are:

1) They refocus your energy: A retreat jolts your body into a creative mode and lets you focus all your energy on creative endeavors. Sometimes we need this energetic boost.

2) Turning inspiration into action: Your inspiration requires action if you are to continue down the creative path. If you don’t act on the story idea or on the image of a painting, they will simply fade away.

3) It gives you time to connect with your flow: A retreat gives you dedicated time to get into your creative flow, that space of being in the moment with your art and having nothing else matter.

4) You are allowed to listen to just you: the creative retreat is about you so listen to what your soul needs in order to feel restored and refreshed.

5) It detoxes your mind: creative, artistic expression is good for the mind and the body. Expressing it often changes our thinking in a more positive direction.

6) Allows you to shake fear from creative energy: Jumping right in doesn’t allow fear to have room in the front of your mind telling you what you can’t do. Send fear to the corner and don’t give it the controls.

7) Allows you to remember you: When we get creative, we often get in touch with a part of ourself we have forgotten about or set aside for some other reason. Now you get to be in touch with you.

8) It establishes a practice of creative movement: It is a long term goal of a creative retreat that you will establish a creative practice that you can take back with you into your everyday life and continue the practice of being in touch with your creative soul.

When planning, going away can be important to some as it establishes intention that going away from the ordinary of everyday life means that you are about to shake your creative life up a bit. Sometimes we all need this. I know I look forward to my writing retreat every summer. 10 days of writing in the middle of nowhere on a river in the woods with other writers. There is definite intention there. The time and space is set up to be a place to write. Also, going away may give a perspective that one might not have if there were in the same place they always are.

But going away isn’t the only way to have a retreat. You can have a retreat at home by following the same guidelines.

Block days off on your calendar. Be clear to those around you that what you are doing and establish appropriate boundaries such as from 8-4 no one is to call you or all calls will go to voicemail. If you have kids, see if you can enlist a partner or grandparents help to allow time for a retreat as well. Try to commit to at least two full days to yourself. However, even if all you can do is one, then by all means, do it.

Once you have established when and where you are going to do your retreat, then it is time to start planning what you will be doing while you are on your retreat. Remember your retreat is for you to set aside time and space for creative recalibration. It is an investment or your creative soul. This is the time to allow space for explorations, experimentation, and daydreaming of new possibilities.

Some things that you may plan on doing are journaling (in any form), painting, writing poetry or fiction, reading about creativity or your favorite form of creativity. Plan carefully. You don’t want to spend all your time reading but enough that you feel inspired to start or keep creating. You may want to plan some time for some meditation, free-writing, daydreaming, and just play. Some ideas for play include using play dough, playing with legos or blocks, or coloring. The purpose of adding play is to give your mind an activity that is open-ended without a specific purpose other than fun. Meditation can help start your day by giving your day focus and clarity. Free-writing is a great way to dump whatever is inside your head onto paper for about ten to fifteen minutes. You can choose to use a prompt or not.

A daily schedule may look something like this:

8-8:30 Wake and Breakfast, coffee, etc
8:30-8:45 Meditation
8:45-10 Writing/ Art (focused on a specific project)
10-10:15 Break (Try moving around if you have been sitting still)
10:15-11 Playtime (play outside your comfort zone a bit. Build with legos or scraps of things you have laying around and see what happens. Here is where your imagination can run wild)
11-12 Reading
12:00 Lunch Break (Also try to do some moving around here)
1-2 Experiment with another art form (if you are a visual artist, try writing poetry or in a journal, if you are a writer, try collage or watercolor painting)
2-3:30 Focused Project
3:30-3:45 Break
3:45-4 Clean up and Prepare to move out of creative mode

This is just a sample. At my writing retreat, I had breakfast, read for a little while, wrote, got up to get coffee, and wrote until lunch. Then after lunch, I wrote, took a walking, stretching break, and then wrote some more until dinner. After dinner, I usually did something else such as participating in authors chairs, or campfire. Once in a while, I would go back to writing.
This is your retreat, make it your own, even if all you can do is just one day.

For reading here are some great books that I would recommend: Twyla Tharp’s, The Creative Habit, Elizabeth Gilbert’s, Big Magic, and Rollo May’s, The Courage to Create. These are great general creative books. For writing I suggest: If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.