Writing in community is important. Writing can be isolating and not having a source of support can be quite sad! Writing retreats are like mini-vacations for writers! They provide a place free of daily distractions in order to allow writers to focus. These places are special because they allow writers to focus on the work they want to write, rather than the things people believe you should be writing about!
Normally these retreats are over a weekend, with the expectation that if you were in an environment that was stripped of all distractions, then you would not have any excuses as to why you ‘don’t have time to write.’
Sometimes these retreats have workshops, breakout sessions, and have spaces to read aloud what you have been working on prior to the availability of this space, or what you have started since you have been there. The goal is to foster a space by which you can write, and write as much as you can in the time given!
Look into doing a retreat at least once! There are those whom are willing to open their home and spaces to foster writers for the work they must do. Will all these retreats be for every writer? Will they all be free? No, and neither should they be! Going on a retreat means you are investing in yourself as a writer, your writing time, as well as the project you are working on!
There is nothing particularly magical about writing retreats. They are a tool like any other in your writing repertoire! Like any tool in the hand of one eager to use it, all matter of good things can be created from it! So, go forth and create! Go forth and build out your writing/writer’s network! But above all, go forth and write!
When you think about this concept of building a myth for a world, or specifically for a WIP, you have to be able to manipulate the information you have to get you to where you need to go. I know this seems a little a little heady or ‘out there’. But what I need you to know is you control the world you create.
The tension, the people, the towns, the time–you control all of it! With me being an amateur chef, and I like to think of cooking and writing as a type of alchemy. So, let me give you some practical encouragement which will help you in all that you will do.
The Base. A base is something that you cannot make anything with out. Think of this as the dry ingredients for a cake, or a gravy. These are things that are immutable about your story. Think of these things are your character’s identities, eye color, height and weight, even their birthdays! The base of your myth are the things which will not change.
The Roux. A roux is more specific. You cannot add, neither should you add, a roux to everything! This of a roux as a specific genre or specific to a genre. How you would write a horror story isn’t the same way you would write a mystery or a romance. A roux gives flavor to a dish! So in using this idea in your writing, a roux for a horror writer could include more specificity. More detail. This is where you can begin to examine how you want your characters to interact with the world, and how they interact with it.
Anne Rice and Stephanie Meyer have both written about vampires (base–the immutable thing.)
Anne Rice’s vampires in The Vampire Chronicles cannot go in the sun, have had a King and Queen, and a spirit (Amel) that had given all these blood drinkers their power. (roux–specificity.)
Stephanie Meyer’s vampires can go in the sun if it is cloudy enough. The Cullens (her main protag’s) feed on animal blood not human and their eyes are gold. The vampires that feed on human blood have red eyes, especially as newborns (roux–specificity.)
The Legend. What I call legendary is a myth or the making of a myth which will allow for a world to be built or multiple books written using the same myth (again, imagining Rice and Meyer). When you grant yourself the freedom to create in such a way, you allow your imagination the room to revisit a character or story.
Let me blow you mind a second: Anne Rice’s vampires didn’t just become all she imagined overnight.
She had a base (the basic idea) and then made it specific to her idea (the roux), and from there she gave herself the space to create a universe. When she took a break from her vampires, choosing to write other things (as writers sometimes do), she had enough written to substantiate going back to it–without having to recreate anything!
Even with Stephanie Meyer! She liked the idea of Jacob Black in Twilight, and wrote a book specific to him–this was New Moon. She created a myth to go along side the main myth–giving her space to write or create the Twilight Saga. She also made it all work! And as of 2020, there are seven books in that series! The latest of these books being Midnight Sun.
This, dear ones, is legendary. A recipe that you can do back to, tried and true, which you have worked at–making it your own.
You control the seasoning, what works, as well as what goes in and what you can work around.