After getting some feedback, I'm already planning the next one. In the meantime, I'll share what we did, what worked and what didn't:
- Pick a place that has some comfy seating. Writers sit a lot. Sometimes they want to sit at a table/desk and write. Other times, they need to gather together in a small group and chat about their writing. Our meeting area didn't have very comfortable seating--this was the best there was. Everything else about this place was perfect, so I guess I'll be driving a Winnebago full of overstuffed chairs to the next retreat...
- Have some writer "stuff" for everyone to read... if they're interested. I heard about this article about rejection from Claudia. It's a doozy. I also included some calls for submissions for short stories, flash fiction, and educational journals.
- Include some fun goodies. In each bag there was: a bottle of water ('cause if you drink a lot, you have to pee a lot, which means you're taking short, frequent breaks from your writing--good for your bones and good for your creative juices), a small notebook, some chocolate (do I need to explain the rationale for that?), some nuts ('cause writing is tough work and protein always comes in handy) and other things.
- Have a scheduled "social hour" in the evening where everyone can munch and hydrate and let loose--a time when writers can talk about anything. Writing can be stressful. Taking a break to bond and chat with fellow writers is beneficial. (And if you're wondering about those empty wine bottles in the background, umm... I think the previous group left those behind.)
Yeah, that's what happened.
- Find out--ahead of time--what everyone wants in regards to the schedule. I found out after the retreat was over that although 8 of the 10 writers lovedlovedloved the wide-open schedule, 2 of them would have appreciated some activities/prompts. Next time, I'll set up a some optional writing exercises--away from the rest of the group--so writers can get some writerly nudges, if that's what they want/need.
How about you? Have you been to a writing retreat? If so, what worked for you and what didn't?