Have you been thinking about hosting a virtual writing retreat? Maybe you’re not able to travel for an in person retreat, or the last few years of uncertainty has left you with less money to host an in person writing retreat.

A virtual event sounds good, in theory, but will it give writers the experience they want from a writing retreat? The good news is, with a few tweaks, it can. First, let’s look at some objections you might have told yourself or heard from others.

Cons for Hosting a Virtual Writing Retreat

  1. Probably the biggest issue with a virtual writing retreat is that the writers don't leave their homes. The main purpose of any kind of retreat is to get away from distractions and the daily routine, so this may be a big negative for some people.
  2.  There is also less interaction between you and the writers, and the writers themselves. Without this connection, they may not feel as supported and motivated as they would at an in person writing retreat.
  3. And you should consider that a key draw for in person retreats are the locations. Simply being in new surroundings or viewing beautiful scenery can inspire writers. A virtual writing retreat simply can’t offer that same delight that hits all of your senses.

Although these issues can be a big deal to some people, there are pros to a virtual writing retreat that might outweigh the cons for others.

Pros for Hosting a Virtual Writing Retreat

  1. First, a virtual writing retreat reduces the cost for you and those who would like to attend. This means your writing retreat would be accessible to more writers.
  2. A virtual writing retreat also allows writers (and you) to test out the idea of a wrting retreat without overcommitting time and money.
  3. Logistically, hosting a virtual writing retreat works in your favor: there’s less planning time needed, and your event won’t be affected by weather, issues with venues, or transportation delays.

As you've probably noticed, these positives are tilted toward you, the writing retreat host. If you’re set on hosting a virtual writing retreat, you’ll need to do more work up front to show writers how a virtual retreat will be worth it for them.

Creating a Writing Retreat Atmosphere in an Online Environment

Virtual writing retreats may be a new concept for some writers, so create a blog post or information page that highlights the positives of a writing retreat in general, then talk about how they can still get the support and accountability of an in person writing retreat. Here are some ideas to include:

  1. Encourage writers to find a room where they’ll be able to close the door. If they can put a do not disturb sign on it, even better!
  2. Suggest they create an environment different from their daily life even if they don’t leave their house.They could light scented candles or essential oils, put on soft music in the background, or hang pictures of different locations they’ve visited or would love to one day.
  3. If time isn’t an issue, but travel costs are, they could save on airfare or gas by checking in to a local hotel or Airbnb for the length of the virtual retreat.
  4. Let them know that during free time that’s a natural part of an in-person retreat, everyone will be working on mute while the live video is still going. To encourage group interaction, plan to use small breakout sessions or workshops.
  5. If practical, send each attendee a branded journal to further make your writers feel connected

Your turn

I've started you off. What other ways can you provide your virtual writing retreat guests with a fabulous experience?

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