Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Why You Should Consider a Writer’s Retreat


Why You Should Consider a Writer’s Retreat:

I had the opportunity to spend a week with Jane Yolen, Heidi Semple, and many other amazing authors in November at Highlights Retreat in Pennsylvania. Dream come true!

I was literally on a mountain, in a one-room cabin, surrounded by snow.  Best experience ever!

If you feel getting away and being inspired by others is what you need to help move your writing along, then seriously consider a writing retreat!


Of course, I can’t write about going on writing retreats without sharing a tip or two.  So here you go:

1. BIC, Butt in Chair
It’s such an obvious one, but yet a good reminder.  If you are not sitting down and doing the work, nothing will happen.  BUT, I want to add another element to this:

2. Write Completely Unplugged

I discovered I could get so much more done without Internet!  It was so slow up at the retreats that I found I had fewer distractions and more motivation.

3. Earn Your Ending

One major thing Jane Yolen and Heidi Semple talked about was:  Earning Your Ending.

Think about the books you read that start out strong, are an interesting and smooth read, and when you get to the ending you take a deep sigh and smile, or in some cases ponder.  These are the books that earned their ending.  They are the ones you want to read again and again.

You can write a good story, but you want a story that is going to maximize your reader’s experience.


  • Sophia’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller
  • The Big Hungry Bear by Audrey and  Don Wood
  • Gobble, Gobble, Mooooo Tractor Book by Jez Alborough
  • The Wall in the Middle of the Book, by Jon Agee
  • How Does a Dinosaur Say Goodnight, by Jane Yolen
  • Perfect, by Max Amito

These are books I can read over and over again, and I always feel satisfied, especially when I get to the end.

Highlights is one amazing option, but there are some writing retreats close to home as well.

If you’re looking for a retreat in Iowa, Whispering Woods with Jill Esbaum and Linda Skeers is fantastic. You can learn more about it here:

And in October, SCBWI-Iowa is hosting our own retreat at Prairiewoods!  You won’t want to miss it.  Mark your calendars for October 25 – 27. Check out all the information here:

There are many benefits to a writing retreat and also different formats to consider in maximizing those benefits.  Some are more about a specific goal you are working towards, some are all about improving your craft, and some are about writing or editing.  Highlights also offers Unworkshops which is just writing.  I promise you, if you can get away, it’s worth the investment.

Make it your goal to sign up for a writer’s retreat this year!


Post courtesy of Debbie LaCroix– Sioux City Network Chair