I recently had the pleasure of staying 5 days at a writers' retreat in Devon. An informal affair, journalist Deborah Dooley opens her home to writers at various stages of their writerly career and process. She cooks all our meals, catering to every conceivable dietary requirement, and pampers us with cafetieres and log fires and even a secret garden.
Mother of three Marion is there to get a way from the family for a few days. Self-published, she's there to read and engage. I learn a lot about her years as an expat, which is all fascinating.
The delightful 25-year-old Chris, who looks all of 15, is already self-published, has six books on the go and there's a trilogy in there somewhere too. Chris couldn't begin to write though until he'd got his internet connection sorted, which took the better part of an afternoon.
Laura is a solicitor in her early thirties and all she brought with her, writing-wise, was a large a4 notebook and pens. She managed to fill the whole thing inside 6 days. Well done her.
And myself? I was there to write a short story. However, somehow in all the kerfuffle of modern technology and purchasing a lightweight laptop at the last possible moment, all I had access to on my computer was wordpad. This turned out to be a godsend.
1. No page breaks
2. no wordcount
3. no side bar comments
4. and with no access to the internet either I couldn't be fact checking the whole time.
All I could do was write. And write I did. But oh so much more too.
And now the real reason I go on retreat has been rekindled. I go because I genuinely like writerly folk. Each with our singular ways of seeing the world. I came back refreshed, with a smile on my face for the company I'd been in and a completed short story. Well, almost.
What about you? What are the best retreats you've been on? What has worked? What hasn't? And when are the best times to go in the creative process? What are your golden rules for a successful retreat?