It seems like every day I log onto Facebook and see another author who is on a writing retreat.
And I’m so jealous.
I’ve never been on a writing retreat, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve researched different retreats and decided that for me, the best writing retreat is nothing more than a place away from home where I can write without interruption for hours on end. More to follow on that in a minute.
I decided to write this post because I want to hear from other writers—have you ever been on a writing retreat? What was it like? Where did you go? How long were you gone? Did anyone else go with you? Did you get lots of writing done? Was it worth the expense?
There are lots of writing retreats advertised online. After doing some research, what I found is that most of them include hours upon hours of workshops, tours, and activities. As far as I’m concerned, those things defeat the purpose of going on a writing retreat because they take valuable writing time and stuff it full of other things.
It’s possible that I’m just missing the point of a writing retreat. There are obviously lots of writers who enjoy these retreats, but to me they sound like more of a vacation than a time to really focus hard on a manuscript.
And they’re expensive. It’s not uncommon for them to average $2,000 for about a week (and often only five days). And that doesn’t include travel expenses to the exotic places where they’re held.
Don’t get me wrong—I’d love to visit all the places where writers’ retreats are held. I just don’t want to work while I’m there. If I’m going to Wyoming or Costa Rica or Paris or Greece, you’d better believe I’m going there on vacation.
So here’s my dream of the perfect writing retreat:
1. It’s within easy driving distance of home—not more than, say, five or six hours away.
2. It’s not at the beach.
3. It’s a place I can rent. I love VRBO, Airbnb, etc. You can get some great places at low rates.
4. It’s a place with a rural/woodsy/mountain feel to it.
5. It has a view. Doesn’t have to be a sweeping vista, but I don’t want to look into the neighbor’s bathroom.
6. I leave my family at home. It’s not that I don’t love them, but I'm there to work.
7. Another writer joins me, preferably one who shares my goal of getting a lot of writing done.
8. I can make meals ahead of time and take them with me in a cooler.
9. There is wine for the evenings.
With all this being said, I should note that I have taken brief writing retreats in a study room at the local library, though I don’t think of them as real retreats. The library works beautifully. I get tons of writing done, it’s close, and it’s free. What’s not to love about that?