Cabin at Highlights

Back in December, I decided to start my resolutions early. I spent a good chunk of that month putting together my application packets for the workshops that I wanted. I was hoping that the New Year would bring me joyous news, and it did! When I found out I got accepted to attend two writing workshops, I was thrilled! I spent one week at Djerassi Residency Program for Nova Ren Suma’s YA Writing and the week later, I flew straight to the Highlights Foundation to attend the Writing the Unreal Workshop.

Was it amazing? Yes!

Was it inspiring? Yes!

Tiring? You bet!

Worth it? YES! I wouldn’t trade this moment for anything!

If you find yourself in a similar situation like this—congratulations! You’re in for a fantastic experience of a lifetime! If you’re wondering how to get through this, here are some tips:

Be realistic about your budget plan

Let’s face it—most writing workshops aren’t always cheap, and it can be challenging when you ponder which workshop is within your budget. Some workshops do require an early deposit and final payment before arrival, however, there are workshops that offer payment plans, so you might want to look into that.

This can also apply to plane tickets too. I thought I could fly home after Djerassi, but the round trip tickets ended up costly. In the end, I decided it was cheaper to buy three single tickets from different airlines. The best part—the tickets were within my budget and I had no issues at all.

So before applying, I would read the sites carefully about the cost and payment terms. When I was confident about the workshops that I wanted, I sat down and made a budget plan and possible tax return for the future. I had to figure out if I would be able to make the payment deadlines once I get accepted.

Be prepared for workshop readings…a LOT of them.

Usually in a workshop, you get to read at between 8-10 workshop pieces that could range between 10-15 pages, sometimes longer. Keep in mind, if you’re planning to attend two workshops back to back, you will do double the readings. It’s a lot of reading and you want to be prepared to talk about your feedback during the workshops.

Djerassi Artist Residency

How you want to handle the readings is up to you. Before I arrived, I would read one workshop piece a day and add my critiques. That way, I didn’t feel like I had to stress about reading the pieces during the retreat.

Take advantage of the time given to you

Seriously—the best thing about going on the writing retreats is the time you will have to yourself outside of workshops. Being away from the daily distractions really helped me stay focused on what is important. I feel so lucky to have had all that time to focus on making my story better.

Plus, how can you not be inspired by the beautiful scenery that nature has to offer?

Plus, I throw the best sticker parties.

Just saying.

Tashi Saheb-Ettaba has an unhealthy obsession with ghosts and monsters. When she’s not writing, she spends quality time with her cats and decorates the world with stickers. She is a reader for FORESHADOW: A SERIAL YA ANTHOLOGY and she translated the picture book, “Aki and Haruka, Where are you Going?” into English.