by Dori Harrell
Writers often slip away from their real lives to spend time in their imaginary lives—lives that include writing all day in secluded areas, hanging out with other authors, talking about writing and readers and writing and publishing and writing and marketing and writing and editing and writing and reviews and … writing. They call those writers’ retreats, and if you’ve never taken one, I highly recommend heading out for the writing world unknown. It’s not only creative and productive living out your dream life for a few days—I wrote thirteen thousand words at my last writing retreat—it’s fun, refreshing, and revitalizing.
But what about editors? What do we do to promote our imaginary lives of editing uninterrupted and talking about editing and authors and editing and writing and editing and PUGS and editing and italics and editing and style guides and … editing?
To date I’ve never heard of an “editors’ retreat.” But we need one! Not a conference (and by the way, PENCON 2018 was amazing! Can’t wait for PENCON in Nashville!), but a retreat where we edit uninterrupted by other business tasks and then engage with other editors face to face about editing. I’d certainly spend some hard-earned dollars to attend an editors’ retreat.
Until someone (maybe even me?) plans an editors’ retreat, I recommend editors fit in one or two no-technology editing retreats on their own each year. By “no technology,” I mean no internet access and no phone access. I know—it means pulling out your hard copies of The Chicago Manual of Style and The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style and Merriam-Webster. It means finding a place without access to internet or cell phones, because otherwise how will you resist responding to emails and checking Facebook and all the other social media that sucks our attention daily? Unless you can find another editor to tag along with you, you’ll miss out on the face-to-face engagement, but you could spend that engagement time poring over a style manual or developing your skills or writing your own book or …
In the past four years, I’ve taken multiple no-technology editing retreats in serene areas. Without fail, I’ve completed more pages and came away revitalized at the same time. When it comes to such a retreat, to each his own. I’ve set up an office in our motorhome, so my retreats typically take place up in the mountains in Washington state. I live near the foothills of the Cascades, so great retreat locations, with no phone or internet access, are within an hour’s drive.
The key to refreshing yourself when on an editing retreat is to do what you do when taking full breaks (as opposed to mini breaks) from your projects—do something you enjoy but can’t do every day! For me, it’s hiking or biking. I’ll often start editing early in the morning, and by late morning, I’ll have accomplished so much, I can take an hour or two and hike to some nearby falls or ride my bike on a mountain road. I return re-energized and ready for my next editing round. I’ll usually edit well into the evening, but after dark, I sit around a campfire and unwind, enjoying God’s creation.
What might recharge you may be different than what refreshes me. Perhaps you’re more the lodge type? Or the lake type? Or … wherever your editing imagination takes you. So until someone plans an editors’ retreat we can all attend, do yourself a favor and take an editing retreat on your own!
Dori Harrell owns Breakout Editing and edits full time. As an editor, she releases more than twenty-five books a year. Her client list includes best-selling writers, indie authors, and publishers. She also serves as a managing editor of a Christian press. An award-winning writer, she’s published more than a thousand articles, and her first novel, A Christmas Hallelujah, was released in 2017.