This is an idea for a mini writing and blogging retreat that I had yesterday, and I think it could work on the day before BlogHer, since so many bloggers are converging on San Diego anyway. This is just an idea. It is not happening… as of yet. But like everything else, I like to float ideas to see what others think. The aim here is not to make money or sell anything, but to come up with an idea to make these yearly conferences more constructive creatively.
The mini-writing/blogging “retreat” in San Diego would take place on Thursday, August 4, 2011 — the day before BlogHer officially begins. It would meet at a cheaper San Diego hotel, like a Hampton Inn, to make it reasonable for the participants to stay on Wednesday night, if they so choose.
There would be NO COST for this retreat — yes, NO COST — other than your hotel room if you need one. This is a completely grassroots event. It is up to the participants who choose to do it to make it work. My role is to create a few groundrules, make sure the groups are on schedule, and then be a participant myself. The hotel itself would hardly be involved.
Participants would come to the Hampton Inn, for example, on Wednesday night, August 3rd, or just show up on Thursday morning, August 4th at 9AM. The event would run from 9AM to 5PM, giving you enough time to change for the People’s Party at the San Diego Marriot, the traditional beginning of BlogHer.
The mini-retreat would offer people an opportunity for some real brainstorming and workshopping of whatever project they were dreaming about BEFORE the chaos of the big conference. This would be a full day — 8 hours — of workshopping your ideas, writing it out, and presenting it to the others.
Here’s how it would work —
Make believe 50 people sign up for the mini-retreat. I would create TEN groups of FIVE people each. One in each group will be considered the MODERATOR. The moderator is a participant as well, with no special credentials or awards. Her only role is to make sure everyone gets an equal chance to talk about their project.
I will choose all the moderators and create all the groups in order to avoid conflict.
Each group meets from 9AM to 5PM. You decide where you want to meet, whether in a hotel room, the hotel lounge, an adjacent Starbucks, or a combination of them all.
Everyone must commit to a full day at the mini-retreat, because the others are depending on you. You will be working all day, pitching a website, a book, or a blog re-branding — a project that you have been struggling with on your own. The others will help guide you, giving feedback and honest critiques.
The moderator’s main responsibility is to keep things organized. In the afternoon, everyone will write up a short outline based on the suggestions of the others, and later on, discuss it with the other members of the group. Since there is no salary for the moderator, you can thank her by chipping in for her lunch.
If, by chance, your group sucks and it falls apart, or if there are other issues, such as hurt feelings over a critique, and there WILL be, tough luck. We’re all adults, and you can handle it on your own. You didn’t pay for the retreat other than a one night hotel room, and besides, you were coming to San Diego anyway, so you didn’t lose much.
I think it can work.
Anyone see any holes in this scenario? Does it seem realistic or worthwhile?