In Praise of Writing Retreats…and Advances

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been made to attend a Retreat that you wished you could retreat from.

Yeah. Thought so. Been there too. But the retreat I get to attend this week is NOT one of those. My writing group–seven women–gets to spend 27 hours or so at the guest house of a generous islander. During that time we…

…each get a half-hour to focus the group on our writing, whether that means workshopping a piece or just talking through a difficult issue related to our writing lives

…go for walks, solitary or in groups, along the (very wild and windy this week!) coast

…curl up on couches and read or write quietly

…cook and eat and drink together

…share, laugh, and yes, at some point there is usually some crying as well

…wash dishes and clean up


Afterwards, we feel individually renewed and empowered, but we also feel our mutual trust fortified and revitalized. In a group where each of us has gone WAY out on the trust limb, in poetry or memoir or even just plain old publishing and marketing issues, this sense of mutual KNOWING is essential.

Oh, and the orca-watching from our generous host’s incredible living room view? That’s just a bonus.

What do you think is the secret to a good retreat? Is it the voluntary aspect alone? The blend of group and individual activities? The wine? 


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