I’d always dreamed of going on a creative retreat. I love the idea of secluding myself in a beautiful location, far away from the distractions of everyday life, and focusing my time and attention on my creative writing projects. That said, when it came down to actually thinking about booking a creative retreat for myself, I got a little nervous. Would I be able to handle being away from home for 5 weeks? What if I don’t end up producing anything of value while I’m there? What if all that designated creative time sparks some kind of artistic identity crisis?
Clearly I worry too much, so finally I took the plunge last year and set aside the time and money to spend a little over a month in a tiny village in the south of France working on my upcoming book. If you’ve been toying with the idea of doing a creative retreat but have some hesitations of your own, here’s why I think they are totally and completely worth it!
To Experience Another Culture
Doing a creative retreat gives you the opportunity to travel and experience another culture while also refocusing your attention on your creative projects. Being away for the extended period of time that a creative retreat allows means that you will experience the local way of life much more deeply than if you had traveled for a touristy holiday. For example, at my retreat, I experienced what it’s like to live in a French village home to only 80 people where there are no grocery stores and no shops. I had the unique experience of collecting water from the nearby mountain spring and hiking to the top of the ridge to watch the sun set every day, all while practicing my French and getting to know an unfamiliar part of the world.
To Get Inspired
Change of any kind is amazing for kick-starting inspiration as it introduces you to the new, the unexpected, and the unfamiliar. Experiencing another culture is a gold-mine of inspiration, but even something as simple as being in a different environment and sleeping in a different bed can bring up all kinds of new ideas and experiences. I always say that inspiration doesn’t find you, you find it, and sometimes finding inspiration means going out into the world and shaking things up in a big way.
To Connect with Other Creatives
I’m not going to lie, being a freelance writer gets lonely. I don’t have co-workers I can chat to over a coffee break and my number one professional relationship is with my computer. While I do make an effort to connect with other creatives in my everyday life, nothing compares to being thrown together with a big group of them at a retreat. Since everyone is away from home and outside of their usual routines, the potential for forming new friendships and professional relationships is even greater. After all, we’re all in the same boat on this creative adventure!
To Kick-Start a New Project
Over the past few months I’ve been working on starting a new project, but it can be hard to gain momentum in the beginning, particularly if there’s client work to do and you’re not yet sure where you’re going with your new creative pursuit. Secluding yourself at a retreat where the emphasis is totally on those creative projects can be a great way to kickstart your focus on something new. Limiting distractions and excuses while getting motivation from your fellow retreat-members can launch you on your next project, so that by the time you get home you’re on a roll.
To Change Your Lifestyle
We all get stuck in our habits and routines as time goes on, but stepping outside of your comfort zone and attending a creative retreat offers a great opportunity to shake up your lifestyle. For example, a retreat is a great opportunity to refocus your professional priorities, to change your productivity and time management habits, or to test out a new routine or daily schedule. A change is as good as a rest, as they say, and it’s always a good idea to check in with yourself every once in a while and re-evaluate how you do things.
Freelancing and working remotely offers so many opportunities, including the ability to travel and take part in unique opportunities like creative retreats. Even though it’s normal to have some hesitations about stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying something new, it’s important to take advantage of the special opportunities that come with being a creative solopreneur whenever you can. I hope this has inspired you to look into doing a creative retreat of your own someday!