To Retreat, Or Not To Retreat?

Get away from it all...

Get away from it all…

I’ve been thinking recently about writing retreats. I know that organised retreats are popular, the amount of ads in Writing Magazine alone testament to their popularity. And I can see how, for many people, spending time somewhere with the express purpose of writing would be a wonderful pathway to creativity. However, I’ve never been on one myself.

It’s a tempting idea, to sit in a room with nothing more pressing to do for the next few days or weeks or however long than write. Ever since I’ve started writing, it’s always been with a backdrop of other things to do. A child to care for, work to go to or complete, a house to manage, appointments to get to, phone calls to take, classes to attend – you know, the usual bits and pieces of a busy life. Sure, I take walks and work out plot points, but those walks are usually to or from somewhere, like school or the shops or the dojo. When I’m on holiday, I always take my notebooks and part of a WIP with the best of intentions, yet I usually go home without much progress made.

I was talking to my brother about this a while ago – he’s a musician and artist, so is very familiar with the creative process. He agreed with me, that he’s always more creative when he’s busy. On his rare downtime, he finds he doesn’t really write many songs – it’s only when there are lots of other things happening that the music flows.

I know that writing retreats work for other people – I’m just not sure they would work for me. The idea of waking up and knowing I’m supposed to be writing would seem like the worst sort of pressure. And I personally feel I would find that counterproductive.

There’s a place quite near to where I live called The Booksellers Retreat. I had thought it a writing retreat sort of place, where you could rent a room for a day or week or longer, expressly for the purpose of concentrating on writing. However, it is something different to that, as I’ve subsequently discovered and, after some more research, I will write a post about it. But it got me thinking about the idea of a writing retreat, and whether it’s worth getting away from it all to write.

So I’m putting it out there. Have any of you attended writing retreats? And, if so, did they work for you? Or do you thrive on being busy, preferring to write as and when the muse comes to you?