I had the great pleasure of doing my first writer’s retreat last summer with a friend from grad school…one of the Keys, in fact. We used the website VRBO and found an adorable cottage called, “Wee Housie,” just far enough away in Inverness. We stayed two nights…writing (and snacking) all day, from early morning until about five in the evening, then putting all our work away, making dinner, dancing around the house to music, and watching movies. That fact that we’re good friends made it more like a writer’s vacation, but we were proud of how we balanced productive writing time with down recovery time.
I had been thinking about what I would do this year. Would my friend and I try for another weekend somewhere? She’s off to France this summer, so perhaps I’m on my own. Should I head up to visit my aunt in Port Angeles, near the Forks of Twilight fame, and see if some of that insanely-successful-series-mojo rubs off on me? Or should I check into a nice hotel nearby and pull a couple all-nighters to finish my current project? It worked once to help me get my Creative Thesis done for my Master’s. Or should I just go to the Book Passage Mystery Writer’s Conference again? Regardless, I’ve got to do something.
So, coming across the following questions seems like a sign. Given that it’s almost 10:30 p.m. and I need to get to bed soon, I’m only going to give myself five minutes to answer each, and go with my gut reactions, no matter how outlandish the answers. Maybe I’ll get some clues as to what my next writer’s retreat should be.
When you hear “writer’s retreat” what time frame leaps to mind?
Ideally, a whole summer, spent somewhere far away from house projects, bills, social media, and other have-to’s and distractions. I have no idea where. Next choice would be a week in an Irish or Scottish cottage on the edge of a rocky cliff or sandy dunes leading to the beach, with a castle ruin in the distance. I’d have my dinners at the local pub…in walking distance of course. More realistically, a weekend in a beach house somewhere on our California coast that resembles the shores of Devon or Cornwall…so I can imagine there are English pirates and smugglers out there in the fog.
How do you feel when you think about a writer’s retreat?
Desirous, inspired, eager. It sounds like heaven…like how I want every day of life to be. And because it is something that requires dedicated time and money, it also makes me feel obligated…in a good way. I can’t tell my husband, “I’m going to spend X amount of money to leave you for X amount of time to go to X place and write,” and then not write when I get there. I feel beholden to both my writing and my family for the gift of a writer’s retreat.
Where do you search for information on writer’s retreats?
I do sometimes look up proper writer’s retreats…if I see something that catches my interest on social media, perhaps that an author has posted, or if there’s a type of place I want to be, like in the woods or near the sea…but most of the time I just come up with my own. And then I think if there are any fellow writers I’d like to bring along for company…the kind you can have fun with but also be productive, hang out with in your jammies eating Pringles, but also shout to them across the room, “Hey, I’m stuck. Can I read you this paragraph?”
What is important to you in a retreat?
A setting that takes me away from the humdrum and everyday have-tos. I don’t want to worry about getting food to eat, or doing chores, or all the other non-writing projects I should be working on in my life. It also has to be a setting that speaks to my soul…like the ocean, or a cottage, or green countryside…a place that, for whatever reason, I associate with my inner writer and creativity. And finally, it has to be free from distractions. Maybe the wi-fi shouldn’t work too well…or there shouldn’t be a TV…or there isn’t really anything to do in the area, aside from long walks to fuel more writing.
If you’re new to writing, is it a feature to have experienced writers in the group, or a deterrent? And likewise, if you’re multipublished, does a retreat with newbie writers attract you?
I never really thought about this. I know I like to have a fellow writer there. And since I don’t consider it really a time for workshopping, I don’t think it would matter to me what level they were. Only that I respected their writing and way of thinking and could ask them questions. Likewise, I would hope I could be of some help to them, should they need it.
There you have it. I didn’t know what I would write about tonight, and I was given these serendipitous questions. I wonder what will come from my answering them…?