Thursday, February 23, 2012

More on Writing Retreats

So fellow writer and editor extraordinaire Ramona DeFelice Long was awarded a two-week fellowship for a writing retreat at the Virgina Center for the Creative Arts. It sounds idyllic. You have a cabin, a desk, a bed, corkboards on the walls. Three meals a day provided. Socializing if you want it, solitude if you don't. Beautiful surroundings in a climate more southern than New England. Ramona has been mostly offline since she arrived there, but apparently she can access the Internet if she wants to.

Ramona writes that she just hit the 30,000 word mark at day eleven. WOW! Ramona, you rock. Mostly for focus, for sticking with it, for typing out that draft. Although knowing Ramona, I'll bet a nickle that her first drafts
are as polished as my tenth drafts.

Somebody even goes into town every few days for, as Ramona put it, "supplies." This after I asked her if she can even GET a drink to celebrate the 30k milestone with. Yes, apparently.

Needless to say, I'm going to be readying my application sometime in the next two weeks (before I start my new day job, which I expect will demand much of my energy in the beginning).

In the meantime, my dear and generous friend Deb has allowed me to borrow her lovely, quiet Plum Island second home for a solo writing retreat next weekend. The house is across the road from the Atlantic, and has light and breeze aplenty. I plan to stock up on large sheets of paper, new markers, and large sticky notes so I can storyboard my way through the rest of my first Local Foods mystery. I'll bring food, a bit of wine, my walking shoes, and my laptop. If the house comes with Internet, I plan to ignore it. (By the way, should you want to rent this lovely beach house for a week or longer, leave a comment and I'll put you in touch with Deb!)

Mad Martha's Cafe is right next door for big
nourishing breakfasts and coffee. And we'll see how many words I can accomplish in three solitary days. (I have, of course, dreamed of it before.)

And you? Have you done long retreats? Weekends? What works best for you? Or can you accomplish long focused writing stretches at home?


  1. I always thought I'd be able to write at home once I had my own study, but now that I do, I still find I'm most productive when I get away. Even if it's only going to a cafe for a couple of hours, I can accomplish so much more. It's exciting to imagine how much I might accomplish if I ever made it to a real writing retreat!

  2. Thanks for coming by, PJ and Gigi. I think I should try schlepping the netbook over to the library, even though I, too, have a dedicated home office.

  3. The retreat sounds wonderful. This May I'm going to Dorland Mountain Artists Colony in Temecula, CA for 2 weeks. I'm hoping to create some magic there. One great aspect is they have no wifi there so I won't be able to waste time online. I have to go into town to get that.

    Last year while I didn't get to an artist retreat I did get to Toronto 3 times staying at my sister's when they were out of town, so I had the place to myself. The first time I got something like 30k of my novel done. I also like to go to the library at least once a week to spend several hours.

    I also may apply to the MacDowell retreat in New Hampshire.

    I'd love to know more about the beach house. I basically don't go to conferences anymore, I'd rather spend the time and money on productive retreats.

  4. When asked to puppy sit my son and daugher-in-law's dog and car while they are away, I treat it like a writer's retreat. No hubby's meals to worry about, no cleaning, no laundry, they leave me food, snacks, and drinks. I just write. I don't watch TV (its downstairs or upstairs and I'm semi-handicapped), I don't use the Internet (I have no idea how to set my laptop on their Internet and don't even aak.), and I have no interuptions. I jump at the chance each time they go away.

  5. I love to write away from home, and I'm at my most productive on those long writing stints. It's the complete immersion in the project that really counts for me. P.I. sounds great, Edith. Happy writing.

  6. Pat B and Pat M, thanks for stopping by. I plan to look into the Temecula option, Pat.

    As it turns out (late-breaking news as of today), my friend found a renter for her Plum Island house. So instead I'll be heading to Aine's favorite spot, the Wellspring House retreat center in western Massachusetts. I'll drive straight from the last day at my current day job and spend three days and nights there. Ahhhhh. Can't wait. And I'll still have a week off until I start the new job.

  7. Last September I went to Seascape in September. It was an awesome experience, and I learned so much from it. As to actual writing, I write best in the solitude of my own home. I find it difficult to write anywhere else.

  8. Seascape is a wonderful experience. It really kick-started my writing when I attended a couple of years ago. I also made several new writer-friends. Thanks for stopping by, Gloria!

  9. I'm so psyched for Ramona - and for you, taking the time to dig in.

    So far, I've been to a couple of writing retreats, and I'm a Believer. Even when it's a directed retreat with classes built-in, I get So Much written during the free time. What impresses me most is my brain is freed up from "chop wood, carry water" for breakthroughs.

    What helps me most is not having to plan, shop and prepare meals. The retreats/workshops I've attended at Wisdom House (Litchfield, CT) and Kripalu (Lenox, MA) have done wonders for my projects.

    KB's glowing testimonial sold me on Seascape, so I'm going this year, even if I have to miss Crime Bake to do it.

  10. I'd love to try one. I've got two daughters and may have to wait a few more years to take off. But it sounds divine.

  11. Rhonda, definitely go to Seascape. Mollie, thanks for visiting the blog. I know what you mean about having children at home. See if you can grab a weekend somewhere - it can be a big boost.

  12. Edith, I am very tardy to this party, but thank you for posting this. I encourage anyone who finds the residency experience appealing to give it a try. There are places and opportunities of every shape and size, so research is involved, but the two weeks were invaluable to me. I can't gush enough, and I've gushed plenty! If it's on your bucket list, go for it.