A woman holding a book with a rose in it waited for me.

The plane landed and I texted her I was in route to the agreed upon atrium. As I disembarked the aircraft, I began to consider why I put myself in this situation.

Was I mentally prepared to surround myself with strangers for three days? Would they peer pressure me to swim in the lake? Would they expect small talk?

Last, I questioned if I arrived at The Write Practice Retreat to get in tight with Joe Bunting, or if I accepted his invitation because I actually wanted to grow as a writer?

Hmm, maybe I should’ve thought this through before I got here…

A Beneficial Blindside

You know what it’s like to navigate new habitats, right?

You wonder if you’ll say the right things. You try to conceal your fractured confidence. You second guess your unjustified ego.

Yep, you basically overthink every move, and play defense against the unknown.

Yet despite my brain attempting to prepare for every real and fictitious moment, I still left the foothills of the Appalachian mountains reeling from this event. Because Mr. Joe Bunting’s school of eclectic creatives blindsided me.

It compelled me to acknowledge, remember, and embrace some real deal stuff. So I’d like to share a bit of what I took away. Because hey, maybe it can help you someday…

Top 3 Takeaways from The Write Practice Retreat:

1. Human contact is never as scary as you imagine it to be.

For instance, not one person tried to bite me at this thing.

The humans smiled and shook hands like you see them do in the movies. They never once mentioned cattle prodding me into the lake. Actually, some even laughed at my bad jokes.

I won’t forget their kindness, and I must pull from this experience for future social herdings. I must remember that getting scared prior to human contact and building invisible walls leads to nothing but wasted energy.

It turns out it’s okay to show your alien heritage beyond the page, too.

In fact, by day two I’d let my guard down enough so the brilliant photographer Phillip Van Nostrand could capture these images of me in my truest forms…

This is "normal."

This is “normal.”

I found my safe place, seriously.

I found my safe place, seriously.

Smile not included.

Here’s how I normally feel inside.

Oh. No. You. Didn't.

Oh. No. You. Didn’t.

My happy chemicals are flowing.

Happy chemicals are flowing.

Full moon rising.

Full moon rising.

You won't like me when I'm hungry.

You won’t like me when I’m hungry.

  • Assignment: Go into your next social gathering with an open mind and let people see the real you from the get-go. Spend less time in the fear because time’s too precious to trash. (I hope my wife isn’t reading this because she’s going to use these lines against me.)

2. Start in the heart, not in the wallet.

I went into this writing retreat for selfish reasons.

Straight up, I wanted to meet some unique folk, build more connections, and get to know Joe on a deeper level. I wanted all of those things because I thought they would help me and this blog.

But my intentions evolved at an alarming rate. By the end of day one, I quickly remembered what’s most important and why I started writing in the first place. (Thanks Joe.)

It certainly wasn’t for the money (or else I would have chosen umpteen different, easier career paths).

It most definitely wasn’t to feed my ballooning ego (because that already pops daily on its own).

I write because I want to connect with people.

I want to help them. Impact them. Inspire them. Entertain them.

But I kind of get lost with my intentions every now and then. Probably because I see everyone else doing great things with their writing.

Like sharing great blog posts and great short stories and great bestselling novels and great big everything elses. Then I imagine all of that stuff resulting in great fame and big piles of cash.

Fortunately, this retreat and the honest homo sapiens in attendance reinforced why I started writing in the first place. (Thanks again Joe.)

  • Assignment: Health check your heart. Why are you creating on the page? Does everything align with what you really want to get out of this whole writing gig?

3. Community creates.

This writing retreat was about Joe helping us unite our unique gifts to support each other.

Here’s a couple shots of Joe breaking down how community can create beyond the page.

The Write Practice Retreat

Knowledge dropped outside.

The Write Practice Retreat

Wisdom spun indoors.

Here’s a couple more photos on day two when we broke into smaller groups, and we brainstormed ways to help each other overcome the stuff preventing us from reaching our daily goals and life-long plans.
The Write Practice Retreat

Say what?

The Write Practice Retreat

Captive audience.

This writing retreat reinforced the importance of having a support system.

I’m part of two masterminds, involved in several Facebook writing groups, communicate with writers in countless ways, but I still get lost doing my own thing far too often.

I believe we all need a support system. i.e. A blog like this. 😉

However, I also believe you need direct feedback to grow and evolve as quickly as possible.

  • Assignment: Get deeper connected with a community where someone provides you feedback. Heck, you can even just contact me HERE to let me know what your big issue is right now because I’d love to support you.

More Photos, Quick Brain Drops, and Attendee Intel

Here are a few more photos in case you’re interested. (Again, all photos were taken by the gifted Phillip Van Nostrand).

The Write Practice Retreat

The aforementioned body of water that my body feared.

The Write Practice Retreat

This is what a luxury hostel looks like.

The Write Practice Retreat

Night dreams.

The Write Practice Retreat

The crew of unique creatives. (Excluding Phillip Van Nostrand who captured this photo.)

Last, here’s a quick breakdown of each person who attended The Write Practice Retreat (in no particular order outside of the first three), and I encourage you to check out each artist to discover how their unique gifts can support you.

Joe Bunting: Runs The Write Practice, Story Cartel, and breeds creative minions (like me). He also shows writers why it’s worthwhile to visit the world outside their suburban bunkers.

Phillip Van Nostrand: This man with lovely locks took every amazing photo inside this blog post. He flaunts his mad skills on Instagram, and his sites HERE and HERE.

Talia Bunting: This mama wined and dined us, the up-and-coming writing elitists of the online world. 🙂 She blogs about her creative cooking HERE.

Pamela Hodges: Pamela, not Pam, paints and writes HERE, and writes for The Write Practice. Oh yeah, her cat blogs HERE.

Ross Boone: Say his name fast and you get Rawspoon. His graphic art skillz are displayed at his site HERE, and you can also check out some of his merch HERE. (In fact, I just bought this t-shirt because it’s cool.)

James Hall: Here’s my roomie who didn’t get creeped out at all when I told him in a group email, “I enjoyed watching you slumber.” James runs the Sky Writers Facebook Group HERE and blogs HERE.

Jennifer Henderson: Jen disclosed TMI within two minutes of meeting her which immediately solidified our friendship. She writes Y.A. Fiction and blogs HERE, and offers editing skills HERE.

Jeff Elkins: This guy’s got mentor moxie, commands attention when speaking, runs Short Fiction Breaks HERE, and blogs HERE.

Emily Wenstrom: This fantasy and sci-fi author has white teeth and blue hair. She blogs HERE and houses more words you’ll enjoy HERE.

Brian Rella: This guy’s got a kind voice and a big heart. He gives away a free novella and novel HERE.

Ruthanne Reid: She’s got a spunky spirit, a heavy backpack, and a recently broken bone. Ruthanne writes for The Write Practice HERE, and blogs HERE.

Monica Clark: Monica shines bright smiles, writes for The Write Practice, and blogs HERE.

Alice Sudlow: She fixes people’s stories, edits for The Write Practice, and blogs HERE.

Megan Tschantz: This lady’s all about empowerment, adventure, and love. She writes about changing the world and colorful living HERE.

Matt Herron: Matt and I challenged each other in wonderful ways. He wrote a powerful book about Scrivener, and blogs about his fiction and more right HERE.

Kieran Meyer: This young brotha with an old soul monitors forums for Becoming Writer and blogs HERE.

Megan Gallear: This lady stood taller every day and will soon blog HERE.

Karen Ashley: This woman moved with purpose, carried a strong presence, and blogs HERE.

Kellie McGann: This lady feels like my lil sis, ghost writes stuff I’m not allowed to talk about, supports The Write Practice, and blogs HERE.

Images by: Phillip Van Nostrand, Photographer of Memories.

Pin It on Pinterest