Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly



Girl sitting in a window reading a book.Fear not, there are no invading hordes. I say ‘retreat’ in the context of a getaway from daily routine. By the time you read this, I will be on a plane to Hong Kong (ah, the wonders of scheduled posts). It’s time for a visa exit, just a quick pop out of China and then back in. Yes, although Hong Kong is now part of China, it’s still technically considered exiting the country when you visit. Go figure.

Anyway, I’m hoping to spend some of my time writing and brainstorming ideas. I’ll let you know later on in the week how that turned out. Till then I will leave you with some thoughts about discovering you own creative retreat.

Why Retreat?

When we are at home we’re usually thinking of all the things we need to do. Cooking, laundry, ironing, sewing, plumbing, cleaning etc. While most of us still manage to carve out time to work on our creative projects, these wonderful pockets of time are still competing with everyday life. And so, sometimes, we just need a break – an opportunity to have some special time with our Creativity.

The February 2010 Writer’s Digest contained an article by Kathryn Haueisen Chasken entitled ‘DIY Writing Retreats.’ In it she described a retreat as:

any opportunity to treat yourself to a quiet place where you can work uninterrupted for a short period of time.

Uninterrupted time with your Creativity is a golden opportunity to produce new ideas and concepts or work on things you’ve being dying to get to. It’s an important part of keeping your Creativity happy and healthy. The good news is, it doesn’t have to cost a lot of time, money and petrol.

How to Retreat

Notice the quote above mentioned “any opportunity.” Chasken highlighted that retreats do not need to be week long trips to far away places. They can simply be a couple of hours spent in a coffee shop, writing. She also specifically mentioned writing in a library, in a book store reading corner, in a hotel lobby or at the homes of friends or relatives who are away. You could also try a local park or beach. Each of these usually requires very little travelling and hardly any monetary outlay (at most a cup of coffee).

The important thing, as Chasken points out, is to:

determine exactly when (day and time) and for how long (whether 30 minutes or a whole afternoon) you plan to step away from work, family or other obligations – then stick to it.

It’s also important to decide what you wish to accomplish during your retreat. Do you want to hammer out a set number of words in your latest novel? Do you want to uncover the fix for a niggling plot hole? Do you want to experiment with a new form of writing? Or are you an artist hoping to find a new location for your next landscape? Maybe you’re a musician toying with the idea of learning a new instrument or piece.

What do you need to accomplish? Where can you go to do that?

I am hoping to take advantage of my necessary trip to get more storyboarding done on my novel and outline some new blog posts. Pop back in a couple of days to find out how I went.

Till then, please let us know if you’ve discovered a retreat that works for you?


Author: Jessica

I'm a writer who refuses to pin myself down to one genre, hopping from science-fiction and fantasy through to literary and even the odd western now and then. Check out what I've written at or follow me on Twitter @jessbaverstock.

9 thoughts on “Retreat!

  1. Well… sometimes going to a new place doesn’t work too well for me. You see, Curiosity tends to drown out Creativity (who shall remain nameless because she values her privacy). Hopefully, Creativity is paying attention, because Curiosity can provide her with amazing stuff with which to work. Once in a great while, the two of them will agree to work together, but on the whole I tend to agree with Edna Ferber when she wrote, “The ideal view for daily writing, hour for hour, is the blank brick wall of a storage coldhouse. Failing this, a stretch of sky will do, cloudless if possible.”

    Of course, at home, this is rarely possible. That’s when I appreciate ADD’s ability to hyper-focus. The world around me melts away and hours can pass unnoticed. (This is not without its major drawbacks for me personally, but Creativity doesn’t really care. She glories in it, and I suffer the consequences.)

    ~ MH

    • I am also beginning to subscribe to the ‘blank brick wall’ approach. It does focus the mind.

      Yes, my Creativity can be surprisingly uncaring when she’s having fun. I feel for you.

  2. I am a big believer in this myself. I love have a writing weekend with fellow writer-wannabes!! It’s such a whirlpool of creativity, and a haven for all the dumb, wierd and amazing ideas you have!

    I’ve also begun a habit of, once a week, visiting a local cafe that has great coffee and super comfy chairs and just nesting for a couple of hours. I’ve yet to have anything to show for my effort (having spent my time mostly drinking, writing cards to friends and even damaging the pristine pages of a new journal), but I hope the habit will prove instrumental to fulfilling my writing dreams.

  3. I’m all with MJ and the coffee house. There is a new coffee place opened up with an upstairs area filled with big chairs and little tables where staff may not notice how long I’ve been sitting there over an empty cup. Havn’t actually tried it yet. Maybe today.

    As a Mum I have found the services of my Mum-in-law invaluable. I retreat every Friday afternoon to my own desk for a couple hours of uninterupted time. Creativity greatly appreciates this arrangement and we get along splendidly.

    PS. Does your Creativity mind having all these other Creativity’s named after her or is she flattered by the compliment, you know about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery?

    • Great news about the coffee shop. Do let us know how it goes.

      My Creativity loves hearing about everyone else’s Creativities, and feels like each one is her new-found friend. I believe she feels discovery is the sincerest form of flattery. 😉

    • Oh, if only this idyllic coffee place were not on the other side of the planet! The best of both worlds – to savor the flavor and remain virtually invisible, with little to distract one, like the nagging of a conscience that tells you that you haven’t done the laundry or that the dishes are begging to be done.

      So happy we can meet here now and then! THIS kind of distraction is delightful and informative. 🙂

  4. Pingback: The Don’ts of Creative Writing Retreats « Creativity's Workshop

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