It feels really good to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life to clear your mind and re-inspire your creative heart.
Several years ago, when I was working my 9-5 at a tech company and blogging on the side, I remember suddenly having the urge to get away from it all. I was craving solitude and deeply desired a sabbatical, a time out, a pause.
I needed a personal creative retreat.
So I logged onto AirBnB, typed in “redwood forest” and “ocean cottage”, and booked two little spots for five days of me-time.
The experience ended up being deeply healing and transforming for me. I had never gone on a creative retreat before, let alone had that much time to myself - without technology or the noise of my daily life around me.
I was finally able to simply be - with my emotions, my desires, my fears, and my creative intuition. I meditated, I hiked at sunrise, I painted, I read poetry, I napped in the sun, I showered outside, and I wrote (a lot).
I returned from my retreat feeling more clarity, courage, and creative inspiration than I had felt in a long time.
Taking a personal creative retreat is a must for the creative, ambitious dabbling woman.
Whether it’s a week, a few days, a day, or just an afternoon. Whether you rent a cottage in the mountains, go camping by a river, or take the afternoon off at your local library or in your backyard, the effect is still the same. You feel rejuvenated and inspired to create and express, and do your meaningful work in the world.
Below are some tips for planning a deeply impactful personal creative retreat:
Commit to the Date
I find this is the most crucial (and difficult) step for my women to take. To commit to a date/time in the future and follow through with it without letting anything get in the way of making it happen. I find the most effective method for making your devoted creative time happen is to open up your calendar (digital, physical, or both!) and block off the time. Color code it bright red or circle it with a highlighter. This shows your brain that this is an important commitment of time.
Surround Yourself with Inspiration
Prepare for the day by having a few things on hand that you know provide inspiration to you. This could be a beautiful coffee table book, poetry (I like this book a lot), your go-to personal development book (I’m a big fan of The Desire Map, Big Magic, and Daring Greatly), magazines, printed quotes, and elements of nature (like fresh flowers, sea shells, and feathers).
Have Creative Supplies on Hand
Be prepared for when creative inspiration strikes by having supplies on hand like a journal, paints and canvas, your camera, colored pencils, scissors, glue, clay, etc. Grab your go-to supplies you have at home or stop by your local craft store to see what supplies grab your eye.
Set the Space
Once you’ve arrived to the location of your retreat, take some time to make it sacred. Put your phone into airplane mode (and leave your laptop at home!). Remove any distractions by cleaning up cluttered corners, covering a television (or any other tech device) with a sheet or tapestry, and putting low vibe items in the closet or outside. Create an altar, light some candles, put fresh flowers in every corner, and put on a soothing playlist of inspiring music. I like to adorn myself in comfortable clothing that make me feel beautiful (kimonos for the win) and wear what I call my “priestess jewelry” that make me feel more like an ancient woman of artistry and magic.
Cultivate an Intention
Once your space is set, set your intention for the day. What is it you desire out of this experience? It doesn’t need to be super grandiose. It could be simply “to play” or “to feel childlike wonder.” Or your intention could be “to overcome my writer’s block” or “to hear the wisdom within me”. Take a moment to close your eyes and find that intention. Feel it in your bones before you begin.
Bring along items that you know will provide nourishment to you and your body. This could be a cozy blanket, your favorite tea and tea cup, delicious healthy food, or some dark chocolate. Be sure to take breaks to drink water, eat slowly and mindfully, and move your body (especially if you start to feel stuck).
Be Open to your Creative Muse
If you aren’t sure what to do during your creative retreat (or find yourself getting stuck or blocked), have a practice that opens you up to creative inspiration.
This could be going on a walk with your camera and playing a photo game with prompts you’ve written for yourself like:
- Take a self-portrait
- Capture your shadow
- Express all of the 5 senses
- The color blue
Or you could have some prepared writing prompts for you to journal on like:
- I am:
- I dream of:
- I believe in:
- I secretly:
- In a past life:
Exploring alongside your creative soul can sometimes bring up a lot of emotions, uneasiness and feelings of being un-grounded. Be sure to prepare yourself with tools or exercises that ground and comfort you. This could be meditations, breathing exercises, crystals, essential oils, mantras, or even walking outside with barefeet on the cool earth.
Be sure to have a ritual or activity you do to complete your retreat - marking its end and sealing it as sacred. This could be reflective journaling on your intention, a dance party to your favorite song, a meditation or prayer, or blowing out candles and saying “thank you” out loud.
There’s no “wrong” way to do a creative retreat, so please don’t read these guidelines as rules for the perfect retreat. Instead, use them as a guide for you to find what feels best for you as you plan for your next planned moment of creative solitude.
I’d love to hear from you! Have you gone on a personal creative retreat before? If you have or haven’t, I’d love for you to commit to one in the next two months. Leave a comment below with your experiences and commitment.
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