June 05, 2024

R Is for a Group Writers’ Retreat ~ by Sandi Somers

Photo: B: Tracy Francis, Kim Clarke, Ellen Hooge
M: Sandi Somers, Lorraine Boerchers
F: Jeanelle Derry, Photographer

“Are you involved in a local InScribe Writing Group? If you are…,what benefits have you found? What things have you tried as a group eg.,retreats, outings?

 “Our West Calgary writers’ group met for a day retreat in May. After a time of sharing and prayer, we dispersed for individual time to write, grab coffee, and write some more. By keeping things simple (bag lunch, then supper out) we had a productive and fun day!”

The above notice was written by Kim Clarke, InScribe's Alberta Regional Rep, and a member of our group, in her May newsletter. 

Our writers’ one-day retreat was wonderful! As we planned, I advised everyone to start the morning with a work in progress as it’s easier than to begin with something new. 

Tracy, who works in a Christian School, offered the school's facilities. We met at 9 a.m. to discover that she had co-ordinated different classrooms--one room with a round table for group discussions and lunch, and two others where we had space to write in privacy. She had even organized our writing environment—placed our desks in proximity to the lighting we preferred--near windows (me included), or in a room with dimer lighting. She also asked the caretaker to bring easy chairs for each of us to meditate, plan, and think. 

My introductory devotional focused on, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10), a theme relevant to several others. I said that the day was a time to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to Him, to write what God knows the world needs, and to forget responsibilities at home. After we shared what we planned to write or revise, we prayed for God’s special presence and empowerment, and that we would be open to His leading. 

It was wonderful, sitting at my desk, sometimes gazing out the window at the new buds on trees and perennial flowers reaching up to the sun in the school garden. 

When going for a cup of coffee, I walked through the silence, glancing at the others absorbed in their projects. At lunch, we gathered and some asked questions about their work or gave suggestions for expanding their writing careers.   

We continued to write until 3:30, when we summarized our day. Some were surprised at how much progress they had made—ideas bubbled more than expected.  Yet others (like me) felt they couldn’t accomplish everything they had planned. One writer rued that her planned project for the day would take a whole week to finish! 

I was amazed at how our experiences had inspired everyone. They commented on how they loved the community, how they encouraged each other in their own questions and processes, and how they knew they had grown in their skills. The day had brought us closer together as a community of writers. 

The day inspired us to continue retreating. We’ve planned three in the next season: the first in October on our regular meeting day, the second in the winter season, and the third in the spring of 2025. 

Great things await us!

 ~ ~ ~ 

As Kim asked at the beginning of this blog:

 “What things have you tried as a group eg., retreats, outings?... what benefits have you found?”

 I’d love to hear your stories in the comments. 


  1. Thank you for sharing the photo, Sandi. I enjoyed seeing faces of some InScribers I only know by their name. And I enjoyed seeing your lovely face in the group. Thank you for giving us a peek into your writing group's day retreat. I feel the inspiration and joy bubbling from your words of this shared time together. I'm happy to hear that you have already made plans for future retreat days. Lovely!

    I'm reminded of my first (and only) writer's retreat I attended over one May long weekend a decade ago. To this day, it remains a red-letter experience for me - one I'll always cherish. It was such a joy to be with people who shared the love of writing. Met some lovely women that weekend, and we still stay in touch on social media to this day.

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment, Brenda. I remember you writing about that retreat. The photo of your desk in the room was my initial inspiration for my group to hold a group writers' retreat. Writers will never know how much their words have inspired others!

  2. I recognize some of those lovely ladies! This is such a wonderful idea. I've only been privileged to do one such retreat and it was very inspiring. It's strange, in a way,. because one might wonder, "Why bother meeting if you're just going to off in aa corner and write by yourself?" But, as you described, I recall that day being so refreshing. I DID get a lot of writing odne on a project but the ffellowship and sharing around lunch and snacks was so good! Perhaps just being in proximity with others of like mind is what we need. In any case, your post made me wish for another such experience.

    1. Excuse my typos! I didn't proofread before pressing publish!

    2. Thanks, Tracy, for your response. It's true we were each in our own corners during our writing time, but the togetherness was the overall impression we all felt. And a whole day to write without the normal distractions of home proved that we made greater progress.

      I hear the longing for another group writing experience. I say, "Go for it!!" With others, plan one day, perhaps at someone's home or at a retreat centre, maybe a meeting room at a church or library, or other venue.

    3. Tracy, and no problem with typos. It happens to all of us.

  3. I was drawn to this line in the quote: "By keeping things simple...we had a productive and fun day!"
    I will remember to follow that model if I ever plan a meeting or a retreat.
    Thank you, dear Sandi, for sharing your lovely experience.

    1. Thanks, Wendy. Yes, simplicity made the day. It was easier than planning to go several days to a cabin (which we had thought of last year), where we'd have to bring bedding, meals, etc.

  4. Dear Sandi, the retreat day with your group sounds like a lot of fun. I love the photo you shared with us. You all look happy to be together. I'm not part of a writer group, but the retreat idea is something I would encourage if I was. I pray your future day retreats draw you and your group closer together as you share your writing with each other.

    1. Yes, the day had a lot of joyful times. It was well worth the day! Thanks for your prayers, Alan.

  5. Sandi, I'm very encouraged by your report on your group's retreat. It's something I've always wanted to try out at our new home. As Tracy commented, "one might wonder, 'Why bother meeting if you're just going to off in a corner and write by yourself?'" But the truth is when you're together like that it's like there's something in the air that just inspires and encourages.
    I'm inspired to try it.

    1. Thanks, Joy, for your encouraging response. As I commented to Tracy, I'll say to you--"Go for it!!" You won't regret it.


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