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The Benefits of A Writer’s Getaway

hotel providence in Rhode Island

Transparency: The “And The Plot Thickens” novel-writing workshop at the Hotel Providence in Rhode Island is a Freelance-Zone sponsor. That said, we really think writers can get a lot out of this type of retreat, so we’re not hawking something here we don’t believe in. Travel broadens the mind!

A lot has been made about the profession of writing as a solitary endeavor. There’s a romantic image of the writer locked away in a room somewhere banging away on a keyboard safe from intrusions from the outside world…until the writer is in need of some inspiration, of course.

What happens when you get stuck and decide your book, article, or even a blog post needs something more than it’s got? That’s when the notion of the solitary writer goes right out the window. Writers NEED human interaction to get the job done, whether in the form of an interview, inspiration from overhearing a random conversation on the train or bus, even just looking up a literary reference is still going back to the well, so to speak, of the shared human experience.

I said all that to say the writer’s retreat, conference, or workshop is a pretty valuable thing. It’s easy to get married to that lone writer stereotype, but how do you know if your ideas are any good? How do you get confidence in your work?

You might think I’m telling people to go out in search of validation through the approval of people at these writing workshops—far from it. Rather than attending them looking for someone to affirm your basic genius, you should go to a writer’s retreat or conference looking for ways to overcome your shortfalls as a writer, to learn why your strengths work like they do and to undo bad habits that only come to light when you’re working under scrutiny.

You know the habits I mean—the ones you can’t help noticing when somebody else reads your material in front of you. “Wow, I DO have a set of crutch words!” It’s embarrassing at first, but realizing that every writer makes some of the same mistakes can actually help motivate you to be more vigilant.

A writer’s workshop like And The Plot Thickens is also helpful for another reason. Some writers don’t realize they’re toiling away at one type of writing when they could be more adept in a different area. Are you dreaming of shifting gears to a different sort of work?

If you’ve got a novel in you but don’t know how to get it out, this type of weekend workshop could be the way to unlock those particular doors. The same goes for any other type of writing—a novelist would do well to attend a blogger conference, a fiction writer could get a taste of straight journalism, etc. There’s also a lot to be said for getting away, spending a weekend at a place like the Hotel Providence in Rhode Island, and experiencing a complete change of scenery.

It’s never a bad thing to try something new, and those who have already committed to a novel, blog, or straight non-fiction format should give serious thought to spending time with colleagues and peers in environments like this. It’s good for you.

(For more information about the various “Discover Your Passion” workshops, visit the Hotel Providence on the web.)

–Joe Wallace

Image courtesy of Rhode Island Roads.