Life After a Writers Retreat—Part IV: Extend the Experience

You’ve just spent two weeks (or two months) at a writers retreat. Now what?

So far we’ve suggested analyzing your experience and maintaining the productive strategies you developed there as ways to make the transition back to your everyday life. But let’s be real: it’s going to be hard to stay motivated once you’ve left an environment expressly designed to foster creativity. How can you extend the experience even after you’ve returned home?

  • Take pictures. Digital technology now allows us to click away to our heart’s content, shooting snapshots not only of our fellow retreaters but of the setting and space in which we worked. Download these onto your desktop; send them to your friends and family. And go old school: pick a few to develop and blow up for a collage to frame and hang up where you write.
  • Bring home local treats, and figure out where you can get them in your hometown. I spent my writers retreat in Cambridge, so I imported British candy bars and English tea. Scones are now on my repertoire, and I’ll have to hunt down clotted cream for a very occasional indulgence.
  • Buy souvenirs. Decorate your writing space with trinkets from your trip, and shop for items of clothing that will remind you of your time away every time you put them on. A piece of jewelry—a necklace, bracelet, or ring—that you’ll wear often is an especially effective keepsake for recalling your experience on a daily basis.
  • Send yourself postcards. You’re already picking them up for friends and family. Take the time to write yourself a note as well about what you learned or experienced that day. Mail them on your last day—or, better yet, get someone to post them for you after your departure—and look forward to revisiting your retreat after your return.
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