View from the Lodge at Ligonier Camp & Conference Center

Let me give you a glimpse into a writer’s retreat. The Mindful Writer’s Group schedules several retreats per year. I attended four until covid reared its ugly head.

My favorite time of the year is autumn; thus, it’s my favorite time to go into the woods for a writing retreat at the lovely Ligonier Camp & Conference Center in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.

First Day:

The Lodge from the bottom of the hill

We arrive before noon to get settled in. You are greeted with a hug and hello from friends you haven’t seen in a while. Lunch is at 12:30 p.m. after lunch, we meet in the Lodge and cover some housekeeping rules for the week.

Turn off cell phones and anything else that makes noise.

No cracking of fingers, toes, or chewing gum. It disrupts the group.

Above all, no talking while everyone is writing.

Introductions are made for new attendees from West Virginia, PA, Ohio, and North Carolina.

The primary goal of the week is concentrated writing. We don’t talk about the business side of writing or marketing. We can open a discussion about plot problems or character issues.

At 1:30, we practice sitting meditation for 15 minutes. Concentrated breathing and clearing our minds. Purge the obstacles and thoughts that distract you from writing.

Quietly, we go to our writing stations.

Snacks

I forgot to mention the endless supply of coffee and tea. Snacks of all kinds, gluten-free to tootsie rolls. My favorite.

After dinner, we gathered around the snacks and continued talking. Then people go back to writing or take an evening stroll.

Lights out at around 10 p.m. But if you’re a night owl and want to write in your room, fine.

Day 2

Some early birds stretch exercises at 6:45 a.m. and then walk in the woods. Observing the slow awakening of a new day. Sunrise, sounds of the birds and critters waking up. The rushing of water in the creek. A few were lucky enough to see the Albino deer up the hill.

A rite of passage has been the walk across the wire bridge. I wanted to experience the walk across the wire bridge anew.

The Wire Bridge

What the bridge taught me. You need to focus on one step at a time. Slow and steady. That is the name of the writing game. Focus on one chapter/scene at a time. Slow and steady.

A few of us spent the evening gazing at the glorious view of the colorful trees. I am so thankful I have eyes to see this beauty and ears to hear the call of wildlife.

Day 3

I elected not to walk today. I plowed into writing.

My goal for this trip was to outline two stories and write between 3–5 k words on my WIP.

I’ve outlined one story and written 3500 words.

Novel two is written but needs editing; I did some of that.

When was the last time you made a wish?

Tonight we used flying wish paper to write our wish, light it on fire and send it out to the universe to be granted.

The exercise brings out your inner child and creativity. Writers, we sometimes need to nourish that inner being.

Day 4

I leave this oasis of creativity and peace at 12:30 and return to my normal life. I contemplate the words of a poem Kathy read by Robert Frost: “Something Gold Never Stays.”

As I walked in the early morning, the sky was dark. Step by step, down the hill and into the woods. I gaze at the cloudy sky, watching as, second by second, it becomes lighter and lighter.

I turn and make my way up the hill, stopping to catch my breath. The earth beneath our feet moves slowly. We can’t feel or see it until something major happens. A bridge collapses, or basement stairs are separated from the main part of the house.

Life is like that. Sometimes it feels like it moves at the speed of lighting, and other times it is slow until one day, we wake up and are old and gray, wondering where the time went.

Recommendation

I encourage you to find a retreat to take part in your craft, whether writing, painting, or crocheting. Take a moment to enjoy the gold in your life because “something gold never stays.”

P.S. I received this in an email today and thought I’d share. https://chadrallen.lpages.co/writing-retreat-planner-invitation/

If you can’t find a group, plan your own retreat.

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