I was recently checking out the links for writers on the Writer's Beware blog and stumbled upon this very informative blog. If you check back through the posts to last week you will find some entries about writing retreats. This put me in mind of the where's and how's of my own writing retreats. I don't know about the formal retreats for writers where you have to fill out long application forms and they hold discussion groups and workshops, but I do know about the kind you organise yourself. All you need for your DIY writing retreat is
1. A guide to self catering accommodation/hotels in your country of choice. In Ireland you can purchase a booklet of Bord Failte approved self catering houses or search the Internet for similar information for free.
2. A list of search requests. These will probably include location - you might want somewhere scenic and remote, like the picture above, to help the creative juices flow or you may find the bustle of a city more conducive to writing. Price, it needs to be affordable. Facilities - unless you really want to immerse yourself in the time period of your historical romance and shun indoor plumbing, you can assume that bathrooms come as standard. However, you might like your house to have an open fire or labour saving devices like dish washers. You also have to consider whether your house is close to beaches or mountain walks, or if it allows dogs if you want to take your pet. I know you are there to write, but taking daily exercise while on your retreat will help prepare you for the work ahead and you can plan your writing while you walk.
3. A long weekend or week free to actually go on your writing retreat.
4. A manuscript or novel idea to work on.
5. Pen and paper or laptop to compose your opus magnus with.
The benefits of a writing retreat are manifold. By getting away from the normal drudge and distractions of everyday life you have more time to devote exclusively to your novel. You won't get a book written in the time you are away, but you will be able to deal with a difficult passage or write a sizable chunk that will keep you inspired when it comes time to return home. Many famous writers went on retreat to write their novels, including Agatha Christie and Ian Flemming.
The problem with writing about writing retreats is that it makes me think it is time I went on another one. I am currently planning out a new novel and a change of scene would really help me start it. I'll just have to dream about it for the moment.
Check out Simon Pegg's in depth review of E-4's zombie tv series 'Dead Set'. There is more to this boy than just a pretty face. He explains exactly why shambling zombies are more 'correct' than this modern craze for the running variety, and verbalises everything I've ever wanted to say on the subject but couldn't. I will remember his argument the next time someone tells me slow zombies 'just aren't scary'.