Writer’s retreat – or should that be writer’s treat? (Part One)

When you are a part-time writer, there are a lot of other things that claim your attention. Family, friends, a social life and work all seem determined to claim their pound of flesh, and you know what they say about all work and no play eh? But if your writing energy supplies are allowed to get low, your work will suffer.

So, try to imagine a week where you have nothing to do but write. Go on, try to imagine it. You can’t, can you? It sounds too good to be true, I hear you cry. Believe me when I say it is attainable, if you can find the time to go on a writer’s retreat. Previously I’d never been a fan of the word ‘retreat’. It sounded a bit hippyish and ‘spiritual’ to me but my writing was suffering due to lack of time and energy and I hadn’t had a proper holiday in years. So I decided to combine my holiday and my beloved writing and took myself away to the lovely Retreats for You, in deepest, darkest Devon.

The retreat is run by freelance writer and all-round wonder woman Deborah Dooley and I knew it was the place for me when I’d been offered a relaxing glass of wine after I’d been there about 20 minutes! The village where Deborah lives, Sheepwash, is a beautiful place but most importantly it has almost no mobile reception (although some networks can get through). As a semi-Londoner I’m constantly attached to my Blackberry, but with no signal unless I walked outside the village, there are no distractions. But the best part was that, from the moment I arrived, there was nothing for me to worry about. Deborah does everything, and I mean everything, from cooking, cleaning and laundry if you need it. In fact, if you get caught washing up I understand there is a punishment (only kidding!).

So without the normal distractions of running a house and surrounded by silence, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve. For me, it was putting 11,000 words onto Book Two and stealing Deborah’s cracking banana bread recipe (trust me, it’s delicious). Because, not only are meals provided, but homemade treats are readily available to keep your energy levels up. And after a long day of writing, I liked nothing better than sinking into the comfy red sofa in front of a roaring log fire. At 5pm instead of being crammed onto a commuter train, I was settled with a book in one hand and a glass of chilled white wine in the other – an altogether more civilised way to go on I think! Not only had I completed more words than I ever thought I could, I was so relaxed I was sleeping properly, getting daily exercise and enjoying a chat over dinner with Deborah, Bob and other guests staying there.

The best part of Retreats for You is the calm atmosphere. There’s no rushing around, no loud noises and no stress. Instead there is space – whether it’s space to write, to read or just be yourself – and boy, does that get the creative juices flowing!

Have you been on a writing retreat or a residential writing course? What did you think of it? Did you get anything good from it?

Retreats for You can be found online at http://www.deborahdooleyjournalist.co.uk/retreat.html

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