Writing with Strangers

Travel, Italy

I randomly came across Pink Pangea’s Travel Writing Retreat in Venice and didn’t think twice about signing up–rare for me because I tend to over-analyze everything. I asked for information about it, changed my vacations at work and booked my flight.

I didn’t want to create any expectations, so I didn’t. I focused on the trip, on visiting Venice for the first time, meeting new people and taking tons of pictures.

No time to edit, no time to read it out loud and see if it sounds all right–just pouring your thoughts on paper and to my surprise, I liked what I wrote.

During the days leading to the retreat, I was very apprehensive because I was going to be spending the next four days with a group of total strangers. But I was happy because I was going to travel, write about traveling and listen to other people’s experiences and adventures. Yet, I knew that writing in a group probably meant sharing and that really made me anxious.

And share we did! I’m used to writing and going over it a few times, and editing another couple of times and here Jackie, the facilitator, guided us by suggesting topics. Within 20 minutes, we were sharing our stories. I call this “pop-up writing.” No time to edit, no time to read it out loud and see if it sounds all right–just pouring your thoughts on paper and to my surprise, I liked what I wrote.

When I travel, I often take a notebook and write about the food, the people, how I feel at a certain time of the journey and so on, but never had I shared my writing. No way! I was too afraid of what people were going to say about it, of the criticism I might receive. I was scared that whoever read it would take it apart, tear it into tiny little shreds and then set it on fire. This was not the case in my group, as the women were very supportive. We helped each other with positive feedback.

This retreat taught me to be confident about my writing; it taught me that if these 11 brilliant women were interested in what I had to say, other people might be as well. It taught me that some people use big words to describe an experience, others are so very detailed that they paint a clear picture with their words, and some get so tangled up in their stories that they make them into science projects. Yet the message gets across and the stories are wonderful. Everyone has something to say and a different style of writing, and there’s no one right way.

This retreat taught me to be confident about my writing; it taught me that if these 11 brilliant women were interested in what I had to say, other people might be as well.

Aside from falling absolutely in love with Venice, I appreciated meeting every woman in my group. We were all so different, coming from very different backgrounds and places, but we all shared our love of writing and traveling in common. Having them as my audience–and interested in what I had to say–was a major compliment and a blessing. Getting feedback on my writing was a luxury, one that I’m grateful for.

I came into this adventure as a blank canvas, an empty bag. I was scared, but ready to get some colors and fill my bag with interesting experiences, meet new people who share my interests, overcome my fear of sharing my writing and most of all, write.

The Joy of Sharing My Writing with Strangers

Interested in joining one of Pink Pangea’s retreats? Check them out here.

About Elayne Sanchez

Elayne SanchezElayne was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New York City and Miami, Florida. Seven years ago she visited Madrid, Spain, fell in love with the city and decided to call it home. She currently works in the finance industry and when she is not swimming in numbers, she loves getting lost in a book, dancing and listening to music, taking photos, and most definitely traveling, or dreaming and planning about her next destination.

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