Why You Should Never, Ever Go On a Destination Writing Retreat

So last week, Tim Raveling was here to let us know the what, where, and why of writing residencies. There are definitely a lot of options, but imo, one of the best destination writing retreats to attend is one where Angela Ackerman is speaking. I know, I know. Sounds like a pipe dream. But…Ange is going to be speaking at an amazing retreat coming up—one that has the word CRUISING in the title. Can you believe it? Well, read on, naysayers, because Christina Delay is here to share (in her own personal and beautifully snarky way) about this opportunity.

You’ll hear from loads of people why you should travel and go on writing retreats. There are lists, like The Case for Writing and Travel, that say why travel is super-important to writing. But there’s another side to this story. I’m here to reveal to you why you should never, ever go on a destination writing retreat. Especially not a Cruising Writers Writing Retreat.

Your Comfort Zone Will Be Tested

Leaving the cozy space of our comfort zone and traveling by plane, train, or cruise ship has the same feeling as starting a new school or a new job. Wouldn’t it be easier to stay at home, doing the safe thing and living within the known and explored shelter we’ve built for ourselves?

Because if we leave that comfort zone, the one that we know every nook and cranny of, we’ll have to enter a new space. A space where our comfort zone is not allowed.

There will be a different culture there in that space, maybe a different language. The food may not be what we’re used to. And the experiences we come across may not be what we expect. Surprises most certainly await us, if not around every corner, then at each new cruise port or country.

It’s definitely safer to stay at home, surrounded by the sounds and smells that we’ve known for years. Never mind that creativity is driven by new experiences and fresh senses. Is that burst of creativity and unlocking of the elusive muse really worth the leap into the unknown?

You’ll Change

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”                   – Mary Anne Radmacher

It’s been proven that change is one of the scariest things out there. And it’s also a fact that travel changes us. We cannot come home the same person again. Once a thing has been seen or heard or experienced, it cannot be undone. Traveling will broaden your world perspective.

Not only that, but your writing will change when traveling with Cruising Writers on a writing retreat. It will be influenced by world-renowned craft teachers like Lisa Cron, Angela Ackerman, and Margie Lawson. You will grow your writing tribe by meeting other retreaters who, like you, have bravely left their comfort zone. And you may make lifelong friends or add a new critique partner to your repertoire.

So if what you’re wanting is for everything to stay status quo, a destination writing retreat is the last thing you should do.

Old Ideas Will Be Challenged

On a writing retreat, you’ll be introduced to new writing craft tools that may challenge what you’ve used in the past. Marketing strategies from bestselling authors that are contrary to what you’ve tried may be tossed around.

With Cruising Writers First Pages Readings, an editor and an agent will challenge your first page, telling you what works and what doesn’t…and it may lead to revisions that you had never before considered. Brainstorming is also a common side effect of getting together with a group of writers. New ideas and plot problems are tossed around and worked out.

But all of that takes courage to face and to participate in. If you like your old ideas, your same-ole way of doing things, and your current marketing tactics, then never, ever go on a destination writing retreat.

Your Writing Career May Never Be the Same

Going on a writing retreat will open you up to new career opportunities and new professional connections. It could be the link that you need to take your career to the next level.


There’s that whole fear of success thing a lot of us have. And if that’s you, certainly NEVER, EVER go on a writing retreat. Because you will be exposed to influential people who are serious about writing, and they will remember you.

At Cruising Writers, our retreats are kept small on purpose so you have the opportunity to make lasting connections. Because of this, you may develop a relationship with the agent and editor that travel with us; on our September cruise, that will be Michelle Grajkowski (agent and president of Three Seas Literary) and Deb Werskman (editor with Sourcebooks). More than a pitch session, you’ll see them every night at dinner, possibly on shore excursions, in workshops, at the spa, on the walking deck, at the casino, etc. And with less than 30 other writers on the trip, you’ll have to talk to them before you pitch to them.

“Cruising Writers is an amazing opportunity to improve your craft with top-notch teaching sessions. The small group format allows you to get to know your fellow authors as well as the guest speakers, editors, and agents. Through the contacts I made on this cruise, I was able to sign with a well-respected agency that I had on my wish list for several years. Go. Take the cruise. You won’t be disappointed.”                                                – Vicki Tharp, Author 

If you’re not ready to launch your career or take the next step on your writing journey, then stay in your comfort zone. You won’t be disappointed.

But neither will you grow or be surprised.

Christina Delay is the hostess of Cruising Writers and an award-winning author represented by Deidre Knight of The Knight Agency. When she’s not cruising the Caribbean, she’s dreaming up new writing retreats to take talented authors on or writing the stories of the imaginary people that live in her heart.

Cruising Writers brings aspiring authors together with bestselling authors, an agent, an editor, and a world-renowned writing craft instructor together on writing retreats. Cruise with us to Grand Cayman this September with Lisa Cron (author, Wired for Story and Story Genius), Angela Ackerman (co-author, The Emotion Thesaurus), Michelle Grajkowski (agent, Three Seas Literary), and Deb Werksman (editor, Sourcebooks).


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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26 Responses to Why You Should Never, Ever Go On a Destination Writing Retreat

  1. Pingback: Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 06-08-2017 | The Author Chronicles

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  3. I haven’t been on a retreat, but I want to go. Preferably an entire week by myself. I love being alone and I don’t get much of that at my house.

    • Hi Susan!

      I highly recommend getting away for a retreat — you just can’t replicate that time at home! While I enjoy a writing retreat on my own, I find I actually get more done when I retreat with other authors, as we all hold ourselves accountable to our writing, and report on progress, brainstorm any plot or character problems that arise, and honestly, get a mental break from inside our own heads by being with each other.

      I hope you find time for a retreat this year — even if it’s just for a few days!

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  5. Laura Lynn says:

    I have to go we love cruising!!

    • I hope you make it, Laura–this will be my first cruise, and one that’s a writing retreat? That’s just awesome all over the place. 🙂

      • Laura Lynn says:

        You’re going to love it especially with me onboard LOL
        Is there anyway I can book my cruise so my husband and I can get a balcony and then sjgn
        up for the retreat separately?

  6. Kimberly says:

    I wouldn’t go on a cruise ship for any reason, but that’s just me.
    What I question in this pitch to leave to write, is based on what I’ve experienced doing that, on many of those times. It takes me so long to settle down and focus with all that new stimulation around me. I get less done, not more. When it did work was when writing my 356 page dissertation. I went to Palm Springs California for 2 weeks in July, which means staying inside in a/c for the whole day because it’s too hot to be out and about. My reward for writing all day were the scrumptious early morning dawn and later evening cocktail by the pool.

    I grow by going inside and using my mind, by meditating, by reading and listening to writers and people.

    • Sandra says:

      I do like cruising but I agree with you – I wouldn’t go on one to write. I do go to another Palm Desert location; a small inn where the atmosphere is soothing and I can focus on writing or revising for hours during the day. At night I join a small group of fellow ‘inners’ for the speciality of the house: a Morrocotini.

      • Hi Sandra – that sounds fab! We do writing sprints on our retreat/cruises, where a ton of writing gets done, in addition to craft teaching and brainstorming during the day. And, there’s always time to play later!

    • Hi Kimberly!

      We also go on land retreats for all the non-cruising people :). What we’ve found is that inspiration of being surrounded by other writers and industry professionals, plus breaking away from the normal hustle and bustle, allows for an extended creativity burst. But I agree, it does take some time (more for some than others) to relax enough from normal life in order to be able to actually retreat. It used to take me days to be able to relax on vacation or on a retreat. Now that I’ve incorporated travel and retreating more into my life, my adjustment time to letting go of normal life stress is much less. Practice makes perfect!

  7. I love cruising and I love writing during a cruise. Maybe it’s the fresh air, who knows. I signed up for the newsletter because the cruise listed here isn’t doable, but maybe future ones will be.

  8. Owen G. Richards says:

    The point of travel is to broaden vistas, push back the horizons and yes, to change. If you don’t want to change – stay put, and never leave your home town. Stay in your comfort zone and never know what lies beyond the distance that you can see from your windows. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on that bit. As for writers’ retreats, I would have to say, unless something very specifically of interest to you as a writer is on the agenda, don’t go. You’ll have tons of advice foisted on you, much of it unhelpful and sometimes contradictory to your own style. Style is a personal thing. If you want to learn skills go in search of the appropriate advice and try things out. Nothing replaces experience as a teacher.

    • Hi Owen, Exactly! Travel is a great teacher and I truly believe that it makes for a more well-rounded author. I’m not sure what workshops you’ve been to that have tried to change your style (shame on them!), but our workshops focus on craft and understanding what makes a story tick. I’ve had an industry professional try to change my voice and style, and because of that experience, I’m uber-protective of other writer’s voices!

  9. Sheri Levy says:

    Wow! Wouldn’t that be fun! One day I’m going to do that!

  10. I’m not sure I could handle a cruising retreat or a destination retreat. I have a bit of an adventurous side and I want to go on all the excursions.

    I am planning to have a few writer friends to my cabin for a long weekend to write. I won’t be getting the boat out, so we can focus on writing. We will be able to take walks to chat.

    • Hi Sharon!

      I make sure to do a long weekend writing retreat with just a few friends every couple of months as well. It’s SO important to get away and focus on writing!

      And on our cruises, we ALL go on the shore excursions! I tend to have a fairly adventurous bunch of writers who want to experience it all, so we’ve gone ziplining in Honduras, climbed to the top of an ancient Mayan ruin in Belize, climbed up a waterfall in Jamaica, explored a private starfish island in Grand Cayman…and those are just the ones I went on! Others have swam with sea turtles, gone snorkeling through underwater caves, and more! We write and learn on the days we are cruising, but our port days? We PLAY!

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