Lessons from a Ten-Day Writers Retreat

1. Just tell the story: Let the characters and their actions be your guide. Avoid explaining.

2. Keep going: When the going gets tough, just tough it out. Don’t stop.

3. Keep it simple: Worry about creating “art” later.

4. Don’t second guess yourself: Keep your inner editor at bay until you have a decent first draft. Don’t expose your work too early.

5. Write for your perfect reader: Imagine the appreciative reader who will relish your work (rather than the critic who will eviscerate it).

6. It’s not a competition: Stop comparing yourself to anyone else. Just be you.

"It's wonderful!"“It’s wonderful!”

7. Learn from others: Listen to other people’s stories. Observe. Be quiet. Learn.

8. Loosen up: Let yourself dream. Try new things. Take an idea and run with it. Trust your instinct. Focus on voice. You can edit later.

9. Be patient—let the ideas come: Don’t be so intent on producing material that you don’t give ideas a chance to grow and ferment. You can’t manufacture literature on an assembly line.

10. Have fun: Relax. Regardless of how much you get done, at least you’re not cooking dinner, driving carpool, or going to work. Enjoy your freedom.

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