I imagine they’re like writers’ groups in general: a fabled creature, hovering on the tongues of the many and just out of reach for the majority—a sort of legend unto themselves that keep us forever guessing whether they are truly accessible, and just what we’re missing if we don’t actually bear witness to them.
Sort of like unicorns.
Every writer longs for the perfect writing set up. A place to go and relax and enjoy themselves, yet where they are able to truly cut themselves off from the world and focus on that all-important passion: writing. Which probably includes no internet. Or angry birds.
Distractions, after all, are the bane of all writers. Unless they’re the right kind of distractions. But then again, we don’t know they’re the right distractions until we’re distracted. It’s a problem.
So we get things like the writers’ retreat. It’s not quite a workshop, not quite a critique session, mostly just writers writing in the same location, easily accessible so that if they do want they can turn to one another for opinions. I suppose the theory is that looking around you at all these other writers working, you too shall feel a certain amount of peer pressure to get your write on as well. Plus, a real opportunity for writers to have an actual water cooler environment!
But who can afford it?
I would imagine it’s a pricey endeavor, and writers don’t exactly tend to be rolling in the dough. The thought of renting out a cabin or part of a lodge for a weekend somewhere nice and reclusive, while dreamy, does tend to put a damper on the wallet—it is, after all, essentially a vacation. But is there perhaps a way around this unfortunate fact?
Obviously, the chance to be surrounded by others of your craft, discussing all the details the general world doesn’t much care about (literary ideas, inspirations, the state of publishing, research, and even what other writers you love or hate) is terribly appealing. If you’re in a writing slump, it could be just the push you need. Yet even more than the price, one had to admit it’s something of a gamble—it’s hard to hunt down a good one, and know it’s going to be the endeavor you were aspiring to.
So I figure the easiest place to start is to gather stories from others on the matter. Does anyone know of any such retreats to recommend? What have been your experiences with them? Any good stories to take away?