Sunday, April 27, 2008

What to do on a writing retreat

Writing retreats. Joel Rickett reports for the Guardian that they've gone so exotic that you can now go on 'literary adventure holidays' to places like Thailand with recitals and elephant trekking laid on.

Writing retreats? You've got to be kidding me. I've been on two fairly conventional British writing weekends, but the last thing I could do was write I was so busy watching the writing tutors preen and compete with each other, the students getting off with each other and the retreat managers getting cross either because someone had used the spare room for an assignation or because no one would bring the wood in for the fire!!


Vanessa Gebbie said...


I go to a proper writers' and artists' retreat in remotest Ireland.

It is run by someone who understands the 'space' that creative beings need. You work. You are fed. You are in the company of others doing the same as you, whether it is poetry, prose, painting, photography... and you come together if you wish, in the evenings, to share your work.

And its in the most stunning place, with wonderful walks, hillsides, beaches. perfect for thinking.

No competition, preening, silliness. Just peace and space.

Elizabeth Baines said...

Sounds bliss.

I still think I'd have problems, though. Put me down in a new space and I'm far too busy drinking it in. I always have to go away to my writing space in order to shut out the present world - but then that's just me. (Maybe I should see a pych.)

Elizabeth Baines said...

ie I mean, come home to my regular writing space (just saw how that read)

Rachel Fox said...

I'm with you Elizabeth...I'd just be settling down and starting to feel I might be able to write something and it would be time to come home. Before that there would be all the distractions of personalities and places and my own weirdnesses about being somewhere new with new people! I'm sure it would help with new stuff to write about afterwards...but lack of material is never a problem...sometimes wish it was.

I know some people go on retreats for good reasons but I also know plenty who really just want a fancy holiday but don't want to look shallow and so would rather pretend they are doing something more... enlightening.

Elizabeth Baines said...


Hugh McMillan said...

It's strange but I used to spend an enormous amount of time boring everyone with how restricted my time was for writing, "think what I could achieve if...blah blah blah" and then i spent some time in a writing centre,nearly went doolallie with boredom and never wrote a sausage.

Elizabeth Baines said...

Well, at least boredom wasn't reason I didn't write on mine!!!