• M.A. Hickinbotham

When to retreat

If you’re a writer or just want to try your hand at writing, but you have little peace or focus at home with family, pets, phones, televisions, doorbells, and other things distracting you, you may want to consider a writers retreat. Though “retreat” might sound fancy or complicated, it is nothing more than a getaway—from several hours to several days—with the aim of achieving some hardcore writing, brainstorming, revising, and more writing. This is especially enjoyable and productive when you have a group of friends with the same need for tranquility and inspiration to foster the flow of creative juices.

Depending on where you live, there likely is an abundance of nearby places that would afford you the essentials—writing surface, electric outlet, food, beverages, and restroom—and quiet atmosphere you require for accomplishing some solid writing. For example, if time and finances allow, you could do something more extravagant like stay in a hotel or rent a cabin for a few days. However, if work, school, or family schedules only permit short breaks, a table at your local coffee shop or library is still a getaway from the distractions that can thwart your ability to pour yourself into your masterpiece.

Here are a few simple ideas for those with demanding schedules. For the business person, a bag lunch and a bench at the park (or just a quiet room away from the work desk) might be the best bet for scribbling some ideas on a notepad. Stay-at-home parents, after dropping off the kids at school or shooing them off to the bus, can take advantage of a quick breakfast and a couple hours hammering the laptop at a local café. School and college students can down a sandwich before hitting the library for the tools and solitude needed to write before their next class.

For those who can commit to greater expenses and longer periods away, sharing a cabin, meals, and drinks for a few days with other writers can be a terrific way of brainstorming and encouraging each other while allotting time alone for focused work. A stay at a beach rental or a B&B may provide enough serenity for a decent chunk of writing and relaxation. A cruise might be going a bit overboard (no pun intended), but there are few responsibilities and loads of leisure time, so why not take advantage of it?

The point is, a retreat from the norm can sometimes be the perfect remedy—the chance to tangibly and mentally set aside daily distractions and tensions, soak up some inspiration, dig into your work, and let the momentum feed itself.

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