I just returned from a unique writer’s retreat with several other writers and aspiring authors. Read below for the fun top 10 things I learned on this retreat!

10. It’s hard to write on a boat.

You can get a large portion of your next book onto paper during a Cruise Retreat, but the rocking of the boat messes with your head and makes it hard to concentrate. It’s like your brain is floating to the left while your body floats to the right—rather discombobulating.

9. Make relaxation a priority.

We all encounter degrees of extreme stress every day. Part of the cruise experience was to get away from the stress and clear my mind so I could focus on my next book project. If you are working on a large project or have stress in your life, take time to relax. Do something fun just for you. Get a massage. Take a nap. Go shopping for fun. Or all of the above.

8. Editors are your friends!

We got to know our resident editor at every meal, while wandering the decks searching for nooks to write in (nooks with plugs are hard to find onboard), and during organized sessions. These encounters with a professional editor offered many chances to pick her brain, bounce ideas, or just enjoy to get to know her on a more personal level. As a result, we now all have a friend and resource to seek editorial advice and can help her with writing projects in the future.

7. In other countries, the word “library” may not mean “quiet.”

In our second workshop session, a rambunctious family was enjoying a rousing card game. We could barely hear each other during our workshop above the yelling in their native tongue. It was fun to see a family enjoying themselves and interacting, but they clearly did not realize a library (at least in the States) is supposed to be a quiet reflective sort of place, which caused us to switch to “Plan B.”

6. Learn other cultures’ customs.

It is important when traveling to other countries, or on a boat with thousands of people from around the world, to learn basic customs. At least in the touristy areas of Mexico, they know what most Americans are like (though many of their perceptions are a bit off). Treat them with respect and even if the accent is so heavy you can’t understand them, just keep saying, “Thank you.”

5. People are definitely people.

It was interesting to see a bicycle taxi driver transporting an older couple down the pier to the docked ship, texting while cycling. Technology reaches almost everyone and people around the world really are all the same. No matter how distracted we may become, multi-tasking still seems the best way to get things done.

4. Tour guides in Mexico absolutely love their jobs.

“Everybody OK? Did you see? Did you see? Oh! Perfecto! This way, this way! Hehehehehe,” laughed Monty, our sing-song guide for the snorkeling tour in Cozumel. As he showed us everything from clown fish to barracudas, king crabs to eels, it was clear he enjoyed his job. His enthusiasm put most Americans to shame. It made me realized how blessed we are and how much we should be thankful for our work. Even when Monty’s job required mundane safety announcements, he practically leaked joy with every word. As a result, our experience was enriched and I was inspired to apply his contagious giddiness to my work.

3. Lionfish are extremely poisonous—even deadly.

Seriously, they look awesome, but if a snorkel or scuba guide finds one they’re required to kill it (usually with a spear or rock). Sad for the lionfish, but happy for humans who want to live.

2. If you don’t ask, you’ll never get help.

I have a severe gluten allergy issue, so I informed the kitchen so I would not get ill on the trip. As a result of being open and telling them my need, I was taken care of in ways I could never imagine. The chef converted any recipe I wanted so I could eat it, and he even created a special dessert just for me every night. All it took was my being open about a problem.

1. Embrace the unexpected.

Each evening we found a towel animal of some sort—an elephant, seal, frog, lobster, etc.—on our beds. Sometimes they wore clothes or sunglasses and one was even eating a banana. The next-to-last day onboard I went into my cabin and whacked my head on a towel hanging above the desk. It was a monkey literally swinging from the ceiling. Such silly things can be excellent creativity generators for writing!

Overall, my writer’s retreat cruise experience was a blast and I’d definitely recommend it to any serious writer. You can get a lot of work done, enjoy playtime, and learn new things about new cultures and new places with fantastic new friends. And yes, I told my editor that sentence had the word “new” in it four times and I was leaving it that way!

If you’re interested in when and where the next Writer’s Connection retreat/workshop will be, check out MyWritersConnection.com.

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy Laidig is the founder of The Book Ninja. She has authored over 40 books, started over 50 publishing companies, trained over 10,000 authors worldwide, has her black belt in karate, and eats way too much chocolate. She currently changes lives through her students… one published message at a time, manages her two retail stores Toy Box Gifts & Wonder® and Nerdvana Outpost in the heart of her newfound hometown, Chambersburg, PA, is in the start-up phase of at least three new businesses at any given time, and generally causes anyone reading this bio to be out of breath. On her “off” time (what’s that?) she brainstorms business ideas with her awesome husband, the great Public Domain Expert himself, Tony Laidig, and hangs out with her two ragdoll kitties. She’s even been known to sleep... occasionally.


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