Thursday, November 16, 2017


By Cathy Perkins

What's the appeal of a writing retreat? There are as many types of writing retreats as there are writers. Some are world famous organized affairs, while most are events planned with friends. Drop “writing retreat” into your internet browser and pages of links will fill the screen.

Stepping back, though, let’s look at the big picture. What’s mentioned most often as the key ingredient for a writing retreat?


A retreat reduces our usual distractions for guilt free writing time. Away from home, spouse, family, friends, pets, day-jobs, laundry, and stacks of unopened mail, we can relish the time and the freshness of a new place. When we step through the door of our temporary haven, there are no defining expectations, no history. In this place we are Writer rather than cook, chauffeur, pet walker, diaper changer, Scout leader, event planner, or any of the myriad roles layered on by our usual routine.

Of course, this giddy freedom can also produce overly ambitious goals. I’ll work day and night and crank out a hundred new pages, thousands of words!
Given how difficult it can be to carve out time away from our jobs and lives, we might feel pressured to be uber productive. We feel guilty if we’re not making every minute count. But that’s missing the other primary goal of a writing retreat – a chance to rest, renew, and refill the creative well. The goal is not to return home feeling you’ve just pulled a series of all-nighters.
Somewhere in between these two goals lives an individual balance point. I have friends whose ideal writing retreat is a hotel room with in-room dining service and a view of the roof top air-handling equipment. They are there to write. Period. End of sentence. Maybe they have a deadline to meet or that’s their personality, but the separation from the world is purely functional.
Other friends roll the retreat into a mini-vacation. Write a couple of hours in the morning and afternoon and then indulge the rest of the day with friends or, as The Artist’s Way calls it, feeding the inner child. Visit galleries, spend time with writing friends, walk on the beach or hike a mountain trail. Read in a clawfoot bathtub or bing-watch a complete season of Outlander. The writing time flies by with flowing words and the writer goes home ready to tackle the rest of the novel and the rest of her life.

I’m somewhere in the middle of these extremes. 
For several years. I’ve go to our fall retreat to write and I always get a lot done. “Done” can be words written, a story spine planned, or the minutia of an upcoming release scheduled. 
But it’s also a time of creative renewal for me to visit with friends, to talk story with people who don’t roll their eyes (cough, cough, family) and to walk for hours on the beach. 

What does your favorite or ideal writing retreat look like?

An award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark suspense and light amateur sleuth stories.  When not writing, she battles with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd. Her latest release is Double Down, available at major online retailers. 

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