I read so much in the press about ‘the top 50 retreats’, ‘the best writing retreats worldwide’, we have become obssessed with the idea that in order to write we must retreat. Retreat from what exactly, and to what exactly is my question?
Retreating to The Hay Festival is the good kind of retreat to do in my view. It’s a chance to fill up the creative tank listening to my favourite authors, catch up with friends, and hear some publishing gossip, smell the whiff of new trends, and pick up ideas while slurping an ice-cream in the sun. Yum.
What if retreating to A N Other place isn’t an option? What if in these recessionary times, you decided to stay at home and create your own retreat indoors, or outdoors – even better?
One of the best retreats I went on cost me nothing in airfares or train costs, my accommodation was fully paid for, and my only cost was stocking my larder with tempting and decadent foods.
Here are my top tips for creating your own writing retreat:
Clear the shed or spare room, and lay a luxurious rug on the floor.
Stockpile it with really comfy cushions to sit on
Create retreat sounds on your iPod playlist
Collect a chocolate stash and other candy treats
Stock your fridge with voluptuous Sophie Dahl type foods to snack on
Switch the phones off and tell your family you are ‘on retreat’
Intersperse writing with a long soak in the bath while reading your favourite novel.
We don’t need fancy and expensive places to retreat to in order to write, nor do we need to get away from ourselves. Virginia Woolf was right, a woman needs a room of her own to write in, so your retreat can be anywhere that you are set up to write from, and the essential quality is a desire to retreat within, not without.
Live wildly. Write more wildly.