Kickstart Your Creativity with a Creative Retreat

Creative Retreat

If you’re looking to unleash your ideas, schedule a creative retreat asap.

You don’t discover your best ideas behind your desk or pecking away at your keyboard. And you don’t have a-ha moments when you’re following your daily routine.

Moments of brilliance happen when you change things up.

One of the most effective ways I have found to shock the creative system into overdrive is to schedule a “creative retreat.” This is a short, deliberate getaway to work on a problem and discover new ideas.

Getaway To Get Creative

Last week I took a 3 day creative retreat. It was amazing.

For the last few weeks I’ve been suffering from creative constipation. I’m working on my next book, but I’ve been unable to get the ideas to gel. The topic is defined and the research is well underway, but key elements eluded me: the name of the book, the premise, and the destination.

I was spinning my wheels, and it was starting to cause me a great deal of stress. Finally, I realized I needed to take a creative retreat.

The key to a creative retreat is to break your routine. For my retreat I went to my chalet. It’s in a quiet and pristine setting, and there’s no TV or Internet. It’s a perfect place for me to work in an undistracted environment.

To develop your creative retreat look for a physical place to break your routine. The best option is to get away for a few days. If that’s not possible, look for a place that you can work for a day or two that is completely different from your normal office setting.

Build Your Plan

A creative retreat isn’t a vacation. It’s a structured process that balances work with unrelated activities.

Prior to heading to the chalet I formulated my plan with objectives and workflow:

  1. Desired Outcome: Develop a title and premise for the new book.
  2. Approach: Deep research into the topic. This involved reading books, articles, and case studies. As I found key insights or ideas I logged them on Post-It Notes and organized them on my “ideas wall.”
  3. Activity: To let ideas percolate I booked time to go snowboarding every morning from 8:30 to noon.

I followed the same routine for 3 days. It was intense, but productive.

Creativity loves routine. No matter where you host your retreat, build your agenda before you arrive. The routine helps you focus on the task at hand, and avoid procrastination and distraction.

Include Exercise In Your Creative Retreat

A creative retreat isn’t all about work. You need other activities to help your brain disconnect and breathe.

For me, I included snowboarding strategically. It’s an activity I love, and it puts me outside in nature. I could start each day of my retreat with fresh air, natural light, and a fun activity.

When you develop your creative retreat look for a complimentary activity. It could be hiking, biking, painting, or just about anything unrelated to your work.

I find the best activities for creativity are outdoors and not too physically demanding. You don’t want to be exhausted from your activity and unable to work afterwards.

Brilliance Happens When You Aren’t Looking

On the morning of day 3 everything clicked.

As I was riding the chairlift everything started to cumulate in my mind. An idea that I generated in late 2015 bounced to the forefront and linked itself to the prior day’s research. Everything came into clarity.

I couldn’t contain myself. I pulled off to the side and recorded my notes in my phone. I had it!

The interesting part is I wasn’t looking for the idea. I was happily snowboarding. This is the neat part of creativity. You find the best ideas when you aren’t looking for them.

A Creative Retreat Kickstarts Creativity

When you’re feeling stuck or need to find a brilliant idea take a creative retreat.

The combination of a new setting, a precise agenda, and unrelated activities will do wonders for your creativity. The process unlocks your mind and helps it make connections it never would in the office.

I don’t take many creative retreats, but when I do I always come back energized. The process gives me clarity.

If you haven’t taken a creative retreat, I highly recommend it. You will be amazed at what you can discover.