Every writer dreams of a place where s/he can sit and write a tome. Last week, we explored the idea of place and how important it is to writers. This week, we look at writing retreats and explore whether we really need them at all. Let’s look at several reasons we won’t consider a writing retreat.
Let’s look at several reasons we won’t consider a writing retreat. Expense is one reason. Most of these retreats are located in exotic locales where the accommodation and food don’t come cheap. So you need to shell out quite a bit of money for air tickets to get there and pay for the retreat as well, unless you pick one that offers a scholarship and you get it.
A retreat, unlike a residency, only offers the space to write. There usually won’t be any lectures or discussions or even critiques (though there are programs with inbuilt workshops). If you are looking for help with your book, a retreat is not a good idea. You could probably unwind and try to get better acquainted with your writing process but the only advice you would likely get is from discussions with your peers if they are up to it.
Why should you take up a writing retreat? Well, for one thing, writers like Saul Bellow and John Cheever were products of the Yaddo retreats.
The primary reason that writers don’t write is the familiarity of their routine. For someone with a day job, for instance, s/he wakes up, prepares breakfast for the family, goes to work, comes back, fixes the house, catches a movie and then sleep overwhelms. For a stay at home mom or dad, the routine is dictated by nappies, burps and bibs. Writing always takes a back seat and life takes over. The idea of going far away to write takes on the aura of an overdue pilgrimage.
There are those over-motivated writers who write sentences during lunch breaks and at midnight, but not everyone can do these things, for various reasons. So going away for ten days or a month (if the house will not come to as standstill if you decide to go) may benefit your book.
Also networking. When you go for a retreat, you do meet some interesting fellow writers and thanks to social media, you can catch up with them if you need a beta reader or just a conversation about writing.
When should you take a writing retreat? Preferably toward the fag end of your first draft. That’s when you have an idea about where your plot is headed and who your characters are. Then the retreat would be the place where you could tie it all up. Tell us if you’ve been to a writer’s retreat.
Here are some links with writing retreat information for 2017:
Disclaimer: The above-mentioned retreats should not be treated as recommendations, but only information. The reader should verify the quality and suitability of the courses before enrolling in one.