Brussels Writers’ Circle Retreat May 2016

Continuing with what some may now dare call a tradition, members of the Brussels Writers’ Circle gathered for its annual retreat at the Siddartha Centre in Tremelo in the heart of Flemish wine country on 20-22 May.  Although the number of participants was lower than in previous outings, a spell of sunny weather and an engaging pallet of both practical and discussion-based workshops allowed participants to open their minds, and their notebooks, and reflect on essential questions about their writing methods and practices.

After settling in and sharing dinner on Friday evening, retreat participants sat around the fire and broke the ice in a mind-meld activity that involved staring into each other’s eyes and transmitting poems to the other person by telepathy!

EVERetreatMay16NickPThe first morning session on Saturday was devoted to Writing Discipline.  Nick Parrott led the group in an open discussion, firstly about the constraints and blockages that prevent us from writing with serenity and efficiency, and then about strategies to remain motivated and inspired throughout the writing process.  Among the solutions found by the group were finding pleasure in writing, realizing and accepting one’s limitations of space and time, turning off or away from the internet, and sharing one’s work with others (and we all agree that the Brussels Writers’ Circle is a great place for that!).

EVERetreatMay16KevinThe second morning session conducted by Kevin Dwyer was more practical in nature and dealt with Story Design and Structure.  After considering a number of ways that stories are traditionally constructed (in scenes, acts, movements, sequences) participants were then invited in a collaborative exercise to build a structured scene based on characters created by other members of the group.

EVERetreatMay16PatrickThe outdoor afternoon sessions on Saturday also combined discussion and practice.  In a workshop on Writer’s Craft, Patrick ten Brink led the group in a wide-ranging and eye-opening discussion about narrative voice, internal dialogue, and point of view.  Brainstorming around the table, the group shared their approaches and preferences on how closely they as authors stay to their characters and on how to develop personal style and voice.

To conclude the Saturday sessions, Hamed Mobasser guided a workshop on Building Suspense.  Hamed emphasized that suspense is necessary in any type of storytelling and is based on the judicious planting of questions in the reader’s mind and then gradually revealing the answers to those questions as the story moves along.  The group was then invited to put these ideas into practice, with many discovering hidden talents as mystery and horror writers.

EVERetreatMay16Ensemble

After pre-dinner walks and games, Saturday evening was devoted to meditation, discussion and a veritable orgy of wine and cheese by the fire.

A blurry shot of Hamed and Patrick, we assume not due to the amount of wine being drunk

A blurry shot of Hamed and Patrick, we assume not due to the amount of wine being drunk

The final session of the retreat on Sunday morning was devoted to a workshop by the tandem of Leda Papasokrati and Mimi Kunz on Writing Love in Fiction.  In a number of prompt-driven collective and individual exercises, participants brought love to the page, while Leda and Mimi tried to steer the group away from cliché and stereotype, despite the heart-shaped pink balloons.

During the Sunday afternoon feedback session, retreat participants expressed their unanimous appreciation for the mix of workshops and the overall convivial and challenging atmosphere of the weekend, none of which would have been possible without the devotion and care that Hamed put into the organization of the retreat.  Thank you Hamed!

Planning for next year’s retreat is already under way, so please check back here or on the Brussels Writers’ Circle Facebook page for further details as May 2017 approaches.

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December 2015 BWC Writers’ Retreat – Registration now open!

Stop press!

You loved the fifth annual BWC Writers’ Retreat back in May so much that, to insistent demand, a follow-up is being organised this December. And now, registrations for the December Retreat are open!

EventsHamedPhotoHere’s our very own Retreat organiser, Hamed Mobasser, with more information:

“It’s my great pleasure to finally announce the start of the registration for our second Writer’s Retreat 2015.

Practical Information

The retreat will take place from Friday 4 December to Sunday 6 December at, Siddharta in Tremelo. The price, will be the same as in May i.e. €75 – which includes your bed and all your meals.

The venue exists of 2 buildings with 17 rooms in total. In principle, this means that we can accept a minimum of 17 participants, but should you not mind sharing a room (see registration), we can allow more people to join the retreat as a number of the rooms contain 2 beds.

Siddartha 2Registration

Please register through this link.

Please note that places will be appointed based on a First-Come-First-Served basis. Once you have registered, I will contact you with payment details. Your place will be reserved once payment has been received.

Preparation of Workshops

For those of you interested to help out in the organisation and planning of the content, which we will base on the numerous responses we had our previous survey, please contact me at: hamedmobasser@gmail.com

Previous Retreats

For a look at our 2014 Retreat, visit our blog page at:
https://brusselswriterscircle.wordpress.com/2014/07/06/2014-writers-retreat-review/

Looking forward to hearing from you.”