Write one page a day.
Write with pen and paper.
Write under the shade of a tree between the mountains.
Write in silence.
Write when your life is loud and chaotic, and will never be quiet.
No matter how you write or why you write, just remember that you must write.
This past weekend, Andi Cumbo-Floyd, Kelly Chripczuk, and Shawn Smucker hosted a writers’ retreat on God’s Whisper Farm in Radiant, Virginia. I’ve spent the last few months going to conferences in Dallas, Texas. While I loved attending them, I stayed on a rigid schedule and my brain was fried at the end. But at this retreat, we relaxed. We calmed our scattered brains. We found peace in those mountains.
And we found out that everyone wrote differently. We wrote in first person, in third. We wrote fantasy, we wrote lifestyle blogs, and we wrote poetry. We told sad tales, funny ones. We told the truth. We skirted around it.
I thought it would be interesting to tell you about these writers—using an author nickname to describe them. Here are the seven types of writers Damien Taylor and I met at the Writers’ Retreat. And I hope one day, you can meet them too.
1. The Hemingway
Verbosity is a close friend of many, but an enemy to the Hemingway of the group. He reads one loquacious writer’s words and strikes them off the page, leaving only what matters. He presents her with what she has already penned, only more succinct. “I deleted words from your 160-word paragraph, and left you with 45 words. I said the same thing you already said—only shorter.” Hemingway shows us that we can convey strong emotion in fewer words. He leans back with a smirk, ready to condense the next piece.
2. The O’Brien
He writes of war, of helicopters, of duffle bags stuffed with just the necessities. He tells the truth: “I was a little scared at this point.” Like his Vietnam soldier counterpart, he takes the reader straight into combat. “But I never forget my pledge; in fact, I took it as my primary mission in the war—to protect Dennis Moore no matter what happened.”
3. The Tolkien
World-building is how this writer thrives, how she expresses herself—through the places she creates. While some writers throw a setting in for good measure, she dreams them up day in and day out. She doesn’t just build the world; she lives there and she wants you to be a part of it. She's so committed to her world that she names her daughter Arwen.
4. The Angelou
With each poem the Angelou breathes life into, she shares her lessons in a universal style. While her words may be pithy, they are never short on complexity, on profoundness. She’s candid. She’s transparent. She’s vulnerable. Whether we are listening to her outsing the darkness of racism or vowing to always remember a daughter moved on to adulthood, her slices of life offer a moment in her shoes we can never forget.
5. The Gilbert
Can a writer teach us about risk and reward with . . . chickens? In the cozy farmhouse, the Gilbert sits under a lamp and reads from Chicken Scratch, a story of impulsivity. She spent $50 on chickens, and while it wasn’t a spiritual journey in India like the Eat Pray Love author itself, it was instead a story of life lessons in her own backyard.
6. The Anderson
Maybe healing from traumatic experiences begins in the ability to speak up. Through journaling, the Anderson learns to accept the wrong committed. Empowerment lies in sharing her story. She isn't at fault. She isn't the one to blame for society’s debauched frame of mind. “It had nothing to do with what I was wearing or how I presented myself. He was perverted and unchallenged. To him, women were objects. It wasn't my fault.” The Anderson’s fresh YA prose encourages us to conquer self-blame.
7. The Kerouac
Alice is to be her name, and the Kerouac sings her a gentle song. Maybe this poet wasn’t influenced by the forceful rhythm of the Jazz Age, but his song swings the reader back and forth, a calming lullaby. Will the Kerouac meet his sweet Alice one day? Will he sing her a new song? "Dear Alice, how much longer will it take / Will you remain a memory that we'll never get to make?"
Want to get your early-bird ticket for next year? Here you go: https://andilit.com/retreat2018.
This has been a collaborative post from Shayla Eaton and Damien Taylor. All of the beautiful photos you see here were professionally taken by Damien Taylor. To inquire about his schedule and rates, please email him at damientaylor89 [at] gmail.com.
An expert editor, seasoned writer, and author-centric marketer, Shayla Raquel works one-on-one with authors and business owners every day. Her blog posts have been featured on popular websites like The Book Designer and Positive Writer. She is the author of the Pre-Publishing Checklist and her novel-in-progress, The Suicide Tree. She lives in Oklahoma with her two dogs, Chanel and Wednesday.
A published author and photojournalist, Damien Taylor provides self-published authors with professional photography, videography, and other various promotional content. He is the author of the Enigma Series and project manager for his best friend’s Fantasy & Sci-Fi publisher, EPOCH Studios. The best place to reach him is on his facebook author page.