This weekend I attended a writer's retreat. I've been to two RWA National conferences, so I thought I knew what to expect. Boy, was I wrong! The beauty of this retreat was that it was almost an immersion program. We spent 7 solid hours learning about how to apply screenwriting formulas to romance writing. At conferences, each workshop is an hour, and it is all you can do to absorb the information before moving on to the next one. But at this retreat, we were simultaneously absorbing and trying to apply the tips to our WIP.
The screenwriting technique sets out a three act, eight sequence road map that is unbelievably helpful. I urge everyone to buy her book! We had an assortment in the room ranging from total newbies to multipubbed, bestselling authors - and every single person walked away feeling they'd truly learned something important. What does this tell you? That writers never stop growing, learning, striving to make themselves better. Many careers have a requirement for continuing education certification, and this retreat definitely would qualify.
The intimacy of having about 20 people participate made a huge difference, as well. I was able to craft my elevator pitch 'by committee', with 4 talented authors working to hone my idea. We were able to pepper the speaker with questions, both general and specific, with everyone pitching in ideas and suggestions. It was a one-two punch of learning and applying that pushed our brains into overdrive with possibilities.
For many people, a national conference is a geographic or monetary impossibility. A two day retreat is a great alternative. You'll learn so much your brain will cramp. And the opportunity to both network and socialize with other authors is equally invaluable. Staying up till 3 in the morning can result in a lifelong friendship, a mentor, or even an anthology opportunity down the road. Jump on the next retreat that crosses your path - you won't be sorry!