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Image by Victoria Strukovskaya

The Alongside Retreat

A Supported Writing Retreat at Home

The Alongside Retreat is a 100% virtual writing retreat, designed for writers and creative minds who want to sink into a productive and inspired atmosphere at home.

Writing residencies, retreats, and conferences can be wonderful.​ I've been to a few life-changing ones, and I'm incredibly grateful for the time I spent there. I also see a lot of people I admire creating and hosting very cool and thoughtfully designed in-person retreats, and I always jot them down in my Notes app for another time. 

But, in this season of my life, it's once in a blue moon that I can get away for anything longer than a night. Many residencies, which tend to have a minimum stay of around two weeks, aren't in the cards for me. Retreats can be shorter, but they're still tough.

Because of that, I've spent the last few years curating my own writing retreats, and I've spent a lot of time thinking about the value of a retreat in place. I've also realized that a virtual retreat can potentially serve writers in lots of different scenarios.

 

Logistically speaking, a virtual retreat is a good fit for writers who:

  • Have childcare and/or family caregiving obligations​

  • Have pets (most retreats/residencies/conferences do not allow them)

  • Have limited vacation days or PTO

  • Manage a chronic physical or mental health condition that makes travel and/or changes in routine less desirable

  • Like to work in familiar spaces vs. unfamiliar ones, and find it easier to tap into creativity with fewer changes in routine

  • Cannot financially accommodate the cost of a retreat, residency, or conference (though note that some do have scholarships!)

A virtual retreat takes less planning, less activation energy, and doesn't require you to step away from your life. It can co-exist alongside your life and allow you to do your work and create your art in your home and community. 

How an Alongside Retreat Works

The Alongside Retreat is a writing retreat that runs alongside the life you already have.

Five days, ongoing 1:1 creative support. $425.

Please note that for Summer 2024, all retreats are priced at Pay-What-You Can rates ($150-$550). 

The Alongside Retreat is open writers with any level of writing experience, at any stage in their process.

 

It goes like this:

1. Consider your project.

What creative project do you need support accomplishing? This is likely a project that you feel very capable of doing--even excited about--but you can never seem to give the project the time and attention it's asking for. Or, it might be a project you've been working on diligently for a very long time--so long, in fact, that you need to inject some novelty into the process for your sake. 

2. Pick your date.

You choose a week that works for you from the retreat session dates (see below!). Look at your calendar when you do this; when will you have time to really commit to your project? (Back-to-school week, for example, is probably out; but then again, some writers want the extra accountability during those busy times, which is why I run Alongside Retreats through the winter holidays.)

3. Register, pay, and schedule your pre-retreat 1:1. 

After you've chosen your week, you're ready to register. When you register, you'll fill out a form that asks you a few questions about your project and your creative intentions. You'll also pay for your retreat during registration, as well as schedule a pre-retreat 1:1 meeting with me. The pre-retreat meeting happens on the Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday prior to your retreat start date. 

4. Watch your mailbox (yes your real mailbox, not your email inbox!)

As your retreat date approaches, I'll put your Alongside Box in the mail. This little parcel will have goodies that set the mood for your week--things that you can use and enjoy that remind your creative brain that "Oh yeah, this week is a little different."

5. Have your pre-retreat 1:1 with me to set intentions.

We'll meet on the Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday before your retreat begins to talk about your project, your goals, the hurdles you might face, and how I can support you to help ensure your progress, productivity, and enjoyment during your retreat. You'll also receive the Virtual Retreat Guide to help you prepare your space and plan your schedule for the week ahead.

6. Complete your retreat--with support along the way.

Unless you've opted for an extended retreat (more info on that in the FAQ) your retreat will run for five days, Monday through Friday, and I will be in touch via email at the beginning and end of every day. These check-ins will be short and gentle, and are there to keep you motivated, especially if you had a day that felt like a slog. If you had a great creative day, I want to know that too!

7. Debrief (and celebrate!) your retreat.

After your retreat is over, we'll have a 1:1 to talk about what went well, where you can go from here, and to celebrate what you accomplished. It's a little moment to toast, together, the commitment you made to yourself and the success you found. 

Sample Alongside Retreat Schedule

Today / Registration

You register for a retreat.

The registration process will ask you to:

1) Complete a form about your goals. 

2) Pay for your retreat.

3) Book your pre-retreat 1:1 meeting.

Monday / Retreat begins

You receive an email from me in the morning on Day 1 of your retreat and respond with your intentions for the day.

 

AM: Our morning email is very brief so that it doesn't take time away from your writing or pull you out of the creativity dreamland. 

PM: In the late afternoon, you receive another email from me. In your reply, you tell me how your day is going, what hurdles you have encountered, and anything you need particular support with.

One week before retreat: Planning

You receive the Virtual Retreat Guide via email a week before your retreat starts.

 

This guide will help you plan your schedule, prepare your space, and make the most of your retreat.

Tuesday / Retreat continues

Tuesday has the same flow as Monday. You'll work on your project with the support of a morning and evening check-in via email.

Wednesday / Optional 1:1 check-in

If you want extra support mid-way through your retreat, you can book a 20-minute check-in via Zoom. I run Wednesday check-ins from 10:00 am-12:30 pm EST. This is optional! If things are flowing and you don't need the live check-in, that's great too. 

A few days before retreat: 1:1

We have our scheduled pre-retreat 1:1 meeting on the Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday before your retreat begins. 


Your Alongside Box will arrive in the mail around this time as well! 

Thursday / Retreat continues

Thursday flows like Monday and Tuesday. 

Friday / Retreat concludes
 

You'll receive a morning check-in as usual. In the afternoon, you'll receive a reflection exercise. This document is just for you, but we'll discuss your thoughts at your post-retreat 1:1, which can be held on the day your retreat ends (Friday), the next morning (Saturday), or during the following week. We'll use the time to reflect, talk about what's next, and celebrate your progress.

Image by Ginger Jordan

Summer 2024 Session: Pay What You Can!
July 1 - August 2, 2024

All Alongside Retreats this summer will be priced at the Pay-What-You-Can rate.

This decision is meant to increase accessibility and connect with the writers who need this offering most.

I understand that Pay-What-You-Can rates can sometimes feel stressful; please don't let this cause you stress. Our financial situations (especially as artists) are fluid; do what makes sense for you in this moment, and know that it's okay if you register at a different tier in the future. I trust that you know your situation best, and I offer Pay-What-You-Can for that very reason.

Pay-What-You-Can fee tiers run from $150 to $550 in $100 increments. You can select your fee level at checkout.

Summer 2024 session dates: 

July 1 - July 5

July 8 - July 12

July 15 - July 19

July 22 - July 26

July 29 - August 2 

Frequently Asked Questions

Gemma_22.jpg

On a personal note...

My name is Gemma (she/her). I'm a writer, editor, and the founder of Alongside Editorial. For a decade, I worked at a 7-month residency program for emerging artists and writers. For several years, I even lived on site, and I got to soak up the magic of being in a creative haven. (That apartment is where my book began.) At this organization, I also spent many years managing the online writing workshops program, an experience that cemented my belief in the power of virtual spaces.

The Alongside Retreat is something I have (unknowingly!) been creating for my whole life. I've always been someone who needed to carve out quiet, special, creative places in my mind, and I don't think it's hyperbole to say that my inner creative world has been life-saving on some occasions. I feel so grateful for it.

I am equally grateful for the creative friends and colleagues who fill my life. It would be entirely too lonely to do this alone. Solitude is helpful for my process, but it can't be the only thing. 

It's my hope that the Alongside Retreat will bring you a steadying sense of support, a chance to be curious and inspired by your own work, and the opportunity to feel wonder at your own creative soul and inner world.

Your projects and ideas, whether they are in your head, on paper, or in the ether somewhere, are real and important to me and I am grateful for the chance to talk with you about them and hold a commitment to them alongside you. 

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