Vegas, for writers?

When you think of Las Vegas, writing retreats may not be the first thing you think of.  Booze. Gambling. Scantily clad women. Hangover-esque bachelor parties. But not writing.

And yet, Vegas is an unexpectedly awesome place to have a writing retreat.  Think about it. There are usually cheap flights and deals on hotels.  The rooms are often quite large – many are suites which have comfy living areas perfectly suited for a bunch of writers to get together to critique or draft.  If you want a distraction but don’t want to waste time, everything and anything you could imagine is usually located within the hotel you’re staying at.  There is no need to even go outside.  You can eat anywhere from a food court a to five star restaurant, see a show, go to the spa, drink, dance, shop or gamble…all under one roof.  This cuts time wastage to a minimum.

And if you’re looking for inspiration, there’s no place better.  I mean, come on.  The place itself is a massive temple to the imagination, to the absurd, the sublime and the tragic.  Vegas is humanity dressed in its most colorful follies.  It is surreal.  Grotesque.  Glittering.  The only thing it is not is boring.  I dare you to walk the length of just a single hotel in Vegas and not come away with at least 3 new ideas for stories.

So, yes, Vegas is actually a fabulous place for a writing retreat.  In fact, I just got back from one yesterday (my second in Vegas).  A group of my writer-friends from Viable Paradise and Taos Toolbox decided it would be nice to have a retreat just for women (no offense, guys, but sometimes it’s nice for us to get away from you).  We wrote, we went to the spa, and we wrote some more.  In just two days I got more writing done than I have in the past month.  Better yet, I got excited about my project again — mostly because talking about it in person with other writers reignited my ethusiasm.

Many of us engage with other writers through writing groups — often online, exchanging manuscripts and feedback via the twisty tubes of the interwebs.  Sometimes we do Google chat or “hangout” online or Skype, but it’s no substitute for live, in-person interaction, for being able to bounce ideas off each other, share worries and triumphs, swap industry gossip and tips, and get to know each other better.

You can do all this at Cons, of course, but they’re so…overwhelming.  There are so many people and everyone’s attention is being pulled this way and that.  Small writing retreats offer a chance to develop relationships and support each other — both as people and writers — that Cons never could (at least in my opinion…please feel free to disagree in the comments!).  Writing can be a very solitary activity and the friendships formed at retreats and workshops help you feel tethered to a community when you’re beating your head against the keyboard alone in your office at 3am.  That is invaluabe, and thus the time and money sacrificed to travel to retreats and workshops is (again, in my opinion) money very well spent.

So, if you’re debating attending a workshop or retreat, I advise you to debate no longer.  Go.  And, if you’re thinking of planning one, I recommend Vegas.

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