Imaginative power of groups

It was hot. It was sticky. A few people had to bail because the humidity (no A/C) plus musty smells aggravated health problems. The doors stuck a little and the upstairs toilet had…issues.

I’m describing my adventures last weekend.

IMG_2877August 12-14, my chapter of Sisters in Crime held their annual “Escape to the Woods” writing retreat. It has been on hiatus for a couple years, replaced with a more formal, workshop-oriented structure. But this year, we returned to our roots. Just a weekend of writing. Nowhere to be, nothing specific to work on. Just us and our stories. Oh, and more food and wine than 12 women really need (but that’s another story).

And despite being held on the hottest weekend of the summer thus far, it was…amazing. I plunked down Saturday and didn’t move except for lunch. I probably wrote around 6,000 words (give or take). I haven’t done that in forever.

All around me, people were writing. People were hammering out plot problems. Brainstorming. Discussing the difficulties of romantic arcs. Scribbling notes. Taking walks in the woods.

And yes, plenty of wine, food, and chocolate was around (no, chocolate does not count in the food – chocolate is its own category, silly reader).

It was awesome.

That is the imaginative power of groups. You show up not really knowing what to expect. But just being around other writers–it gets the imaginative juices flowing. All of a sudden, the “what the heck am I doing in this story?” becomes “I got it – all I have to do is___” (fill in the blanks).

It’s said again and again. Writing is solitary. I mean, no one else can put the words on the screen for you. But anyone who thinks she can “go it alone” is gravely mistaken.

Because no matter how good your imagination, never underestimate the imaginative power of a group.


Author: Liz Milliron

Liz Milliron has been making up stories, and creating her own endings for other people's stories, for as long as she can remember. She survived growing up through reading, cutting her mystery teeth on Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark and, of course, Nancy Drew. As an adult, she finds escape from the world of software documentation through creating her own fictional murder and mayhem. She lives near Pittsburgh with her husband and two teenage children, and fantasizes about owning a dog again - one of these days.

10 thoughts on “Imaginative power of groups”

  1. Sounds like such a fun and productive time! My wife Tara is also a writer, and she and I are planning a writing retreat next year sometime. She did one herself recently and found it really energizing. And yes, we’ll bring chocolate. 🙂

    Thanks for the post here—fun!


  2. Art, getting away is so critical. Kait, yes – any group of writers is energizing – and this is a fun group. And when you mix writers and readers like the upcoming Bouchercon – fantastic!


  3. I think when you get writers working in a room together, the air changes. It’s charged. It moves and not only do you breathe it, your feel it rush through your pores. Of course, some A/C would’ve been nice too.



  4. As you all know, I am a reader, not a writer. I go to many, many book signings and author-discussion events, and the topic that comes up at EVERY event is the amazing support that writers willingly give each other. Time after time I have heard wonderful stories about best-selling authors who gave unconditional advice, support, or encouragement to a writer working on his or her first or second book, and stories like this post’s “Escape to the Woods” where authors help and support each other. Many authors who have “moved up” from other careers mention that this kind of support was NEVER available in their previous careers, and in fact the previous atmosphere was “dog-eat-dog.”

    You authors are a special group not only because you produce fantastic books for me to read, but also because you are your own unique, supportive, caring community.


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