Take Away: Make The Most Of Writer’s Retreats

The memory is a funny thing. We are sure to remember the most important things in the world, right? NOT!

If you’re like me, you find yourself in another room of the house for a specific purpose, but you can’t remember what you were suppose to do. Or, maybe you forgot supper in the oven, or a kid’s soccer practice. Or, worst case scenario, your mother-in-law’s birthday party…at your house.

Truth is, we don’t remember some of the things that are most important to us when life gets hectic. To that I ask, when is life not hectic? Sigh.

So, instead of striving for the ideal, maybe we should look at strategies. More specifically, strategies for remembering all the great stuff you learned at a Writer’s Retreat.

Here are a few things you can try to maximize your take away factor:

During The Retreat Take Notes And Highlight. As you are taking notes, circle or highlight the most important points that you don’t want to forget. If the handouts have samples, mark the sample page number in your handwritten notes to help you reference it later.

Topic Specific Notes. After the retreat, either on your computer or in a notebook write the major topics discussed at the retreat one page each. Over the next week write everything you can remember of that topic on that page, including any notes you took at the retreat. It doesn’t need to be organized yet. Do this everyday for each topic for a week.

Master File System. Once the week is over, compile your thoughts on that one topic in an organized manner and file it under a topic in your computer about that thing. For example, you may have a folder named writing craft with subfolders on things like story world, etc.

Add Specific Examples. For each subfolder, write a few examples of the strategies you learned. It maybe just a few sentences, but then you can remember by example if the ideas are a little foggy in the future.

Add A Larger Writing Sample. Take a scene that you worked on during the retreat and highlight key craft strategies used and write the file you can find a cross reference in. So, dialogue that you used specific strategies on, might be blue and then you could reference a dialogue file for further information.

Sometimes this last one is the most helpful. Compiling these can help you to get a stronger sense of solid writing.

Read Through A Sample Scene. When you are getting ready to write a new scene, read through one of the sample scenes that you worked on at a retreat. It gets your mind flowing in the direction of your best writing. It will help your new scene to bear earmarks of your training.

What are some other strategies you use to help you remember things that are important?

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About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

2 thoughts on “Take Away: Make The Most Of Writer’s Retreats

  1. Pat Trainum says:

    Great suggestions, Michelle. I took a recorder this year and recorded my sessions with Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck at the Deep Thinkers retreat. Now, when I’m working on my ms, I play back what I need to. BTW, it’s also great to take to doctor’s offices, too. Never can remember what he says. lol

  2. Michelle Lim says:

    That’s a great idea, Pat! When you have the opportunity, there is nothing better than an exact replay.

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