Often when I think of this word I bring to mind a historical army waving a white flag as they flee the chaos of battle and seek safety. Funny, I recently took a writer’s retreat and I think in some ways, my reasoning for this time away was similar.
No, I was not in a life or death battle. And no, I wasn’t in a horrible place emotionally or mentally. However, I recognized that the chaos of this world was confusing me mentally and creatively. I had been battling fierce writer’s block and knew I had to put my foot down. It was time to wave my white flag and release the day-to-day demands as my actions yelled, “retreat.” I gave myself the gift of uninterrupted time on a personal writer’s retreat.
Start Simple & Small
I kept it simple. I didn’t go far. My parents live 30 minutes away and have a beautiful home with multiple comfortable spaces for writing and reflection. They were out of town and more than happy to allow me to use their quiet home for my retreat.
I arrived with few firm plans other than keeping my phone silent and my mind and body comfortable as I sought to refresh my mind. I came with multiple journals – some old with nothing but marked up pages and some with fresh pages for new reflections. Reading through years of notes and thoughts helped me grasp how far God has brought me since those entries were scrawled onto those journal pages. The blank pages also allowed me space to dream about fresh possibilities and document new realizations.
I had my Bible in hand too. In silence, I read scripture with a goal of listening incredibly well. It was important that the retreat was not just good self-care but also excellent soul-care. In the quiet I can hear God so much more clearly. In His Word, I feel more direction for my days.
Fresh Air & Movement
At one point I found myself starting to feel mentally taxed. That’s when I got up and went outside. I took a scenic walk around the block – with no phone in hand. I totally unplugged and walked away from my computer and work. While I walked, I prayed. I breathed in the fragrant fresh air. I reminded myself that the point of the retreat was not hyper-productivity. The purpose was to recenter myself and sharpen my mind.
Toward the end of my retreat, it began to rain. I went out back to the deck and sat underneath a tin-roof shelter. The pings of raindrops hitting the roof were such a comforting sound. I looked around their backyard at all the beautiful green and splashes of florals. It was lovely.
My mini-retreat wasn’t even a full day. It was a dedicated chunk of time that I held and honored as just for me. The goal was not high levels of productivity, although I found that was a happy outcome of my solitude. The bigger and more important goal was to care for myself in a way that produced clarity. I wanted to conclude that retreat feeling as if the mental fog had lifted and my tunnel vision had passed. That’s exactly what happened!
Is it time for you to take a personal retreat?
Consider taking your own retreat. This may be exactly what you need if you are wrestling with feeling burnt out, writer’s block, or you notice that life just feels less vibrant lately. I walked you through the details and sensory experience of my day so that you can see the vision for what your own retreat can look like.
Create conditions where you can find self-care and soul-rest. Don’t get too complicated or you may never actually do it. Start small and super simple. Find a local place that will give you the space and silence to sit along with your thoughts and simultaneously enter into prayer and reflection.
The irony is that when we rest we often find the refresh needed for increased productivity on the other side. Don’t live in fear of silence and stillness. It’s time to retreat.