Our annual writing retreat has grown over the 3 years we have gotten together. Four friends who were already speaking at women’s ministry events were starting to dabble in writing. This resulted from the popularity of blogging and being encouraged by others to put into words what was being spoken. Some of us attended CLASS and were told “if you speak, you need to write; if you write, you need to start speaking.”
We had dabbled with writing, enjoyed the process and wanted to get better. We thought a few days away encouraging each other would be great, especially since we were all newbies. We found a five bedroom place to rent and had an extra bedroom. Since we were new at the craft, we wanted to invite someone to mentor us – not the whole time, but over a shared meal. We knew of a local speaker/writer that we knew and invited her. She didn’t think she was mentor material, but we reminded her that she was more experienced than us. Mentors simply share what they know as someone further down the path and we are. What we needed was informal encouragement. So, our fifth core member was added.
We didn’t know if we would continue after this one week or not, but we have. Now in our 3rd year, we had to rent a 7 bedroom home and with part-timers using the room the first or last half, we have expanded to ten women who travel from 4 states.
This year, we added ice breaker questions each time a new group of seven was in the house in order to get to know one another better and encourage the various writing projects. It was interesting to note how old and new friendships came about. What seemed to be “chance” encounters and temporary associations in the past became the spark to new and deeper levels of association.
We often don’t see until later how people we meet at one time re-emerge later in different facets. God is always at work behind the scenes…don’t miss the opportunities to get connected. That is how networks start.
For this writing retreat, we are a diverse group of women, ministering in different churches and states, from a variety of backgrounds all wanting to serve God through our speaking and writing.
Some of the benefits we have realized over the years:
- This week gives us a focused time to meet with God for direction and wisdom for the year. It is not often that one has the TIME to spend longer periods over a week with God through prayer and scripture meditation. It is AMAZING.
- We are working on such varied projects that include fiction, biographies, bible studies, and many other topics. There is no ONE way to write and we truly encourage each other to develop our own voice through many genres.
- Goal setting at the beginning of the week sets the tone to stay focused. Each woman brings the goals she and God have planned. We include one S-T-R-E-T-C-H goal we call our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal – from Jim Collins). As the week goes on, we cross off, adjust, and celebrate large and small accomplishments – often on a noisemaker that is provided in the welcome kits.
- Introverts love the silence of quiet time to write and extroverts love the shared meal and accountability time together in the evening. This works best with our early morning to all night writers.
By the end of the week, these loose associations of “who knew who” has become a group of new and lasting friendships and encouragement throughout the year. We stay connected on Facebook and email. We don’t know how many years we will meet like this, but as we do, I am amazed at how God is bringing so any different women together for His purposes and our benefit.