My writing retreat

I have always dreamed of going to a writing retreat. Give me a place with a view – nestled somewhere in the mountains or on the Cornish coast. (I’ll take a little room in one of those old fishermens’ cottages in St. Ives.) Even a small attic room looking out into a garden would be lovely.

Well, I didn’t get to go to any of those locations over the holidays, but I did have a writing retreat of sorts. I spent 8 days house- & cat-sitting. Huge house. Just me & the cat.

This wasn’t a typical vacation where I spent a day on a plane or in a car, did lots of sightseeing, visited family and friends, tried to squeeze in some writing, and then fell onto the sofa exhausted each evening. This was writing time!

My body doesn’t know the meaning of ‘sleeping late,’ so the coffee was brewing by 6am most mornings and I was writing – editing – by 6:45 or 7. I worked until noon. On 2 mornings, I went to a local coffee shop and had breakfast and edited. I spent more time on the manuscript some afternoons, though not every day. I started reading 2 new books: Knight of Jerusalem by Helena Schrader and A Rip in the Veil by Anna Belfrage. I had intended to get more non-fiction research done (reading Ward’s English noblewomen in the later Middle Ages), but didn’t do too well on that front. I escaped the house and saw 3 movies (Hobbit #3, Night at the Museum #3, and The Imitation Game) and went shopping. I highly recommend all 3 movies.

I generally stayed away from social media except to check in with a few friends. I did little to no marketing or networking. It was a lovely break.

I could have taken the time off work and just stayed home. But it was nice not to be in familiar surroundings. There are too many distractions at home. I didn’t have to think about dusting, laundry or the mess I left on the kitchen table. I had cable tv (which I don’t have at home) and my usual Netflix & Amazon for streaming in the evenings and, by the end of the week, a lap (or sink?) kitty.

And, best of all, I made great progress on revisions to Book 2 of Battle Scars, For King and Country:

  • cut another 2,500 words
  • 38% through round 2 of edits (I was at 12% on Dec. 17.)
  • sent specifications for a map to my mapmaker Dennis, who did great work for Men of the Cross

Now I’m back to my regular work schedule, which means I get 1-2 hours of editing/writing time a day (except on the weekends). Sigh. I won’t even predict when I’ll finish this round. But when it’s done, I’ll ship it off to a few beta readers and get their input. You know the routine… lather, rinse, repeat.

Have you been to a writers retreat? Do you have a favorite place to write, or what would be your ideal writing spot?

Typewriter keys photo by Steven Depolo used under CC-BY 2.0.


  1. jadey36 Avatar

    Wishing you a belated Happy New Year! Glad to know you had such a peaceful and productive time over the festive period.

    I haven’t seen Night at the Museum, but I saw the other two films you mention and enjoyed them greatly.

    To answer your question: no, I’ve never been to a writer’s retreat. I don’t really have a favourite place to write, but I do need peace and quiet and no distractions. If ideas pop into my head, I’ll jot them down wherever I am, yes, even in the loo (the inside of toilet rolls do unroll if I’m in a public loo with no notebook to hand). In summer, I often write outdoors, sitting on a secluded bench in one of my favourite parks, and in winter I’ll write in coffee shops if I’m out and about (white noise I can deal with) or at home in my tiny office with the door shut to keep husband or children out (it generally doesn’t keep them out, though).

    1. Char Avatar

      Hi Jadey & Happy New Year! Like you, I can block the white noise and be quite productive. My best writing time seems to be at the local coffee shop. I take lots of noes on my phone. I hardly ever have a pen or pencil handy, so the toilet roll trick wouldn’t work for me! 🙂 I enjoyed Night at the Museum because a lot of it took place inside the British Museum, and I’d just been there in 2013. It brought back many memories. The movie was good, but not great. I’d go back to see the other 2, but once was enough for Night.

  2. Sara Thorn Avatar
    Sara Thorn

    I’d love a writing retreat, but like you I usually make do with what I can around the day job (i.e. 1-2 writing hours a day). I’ve just been off work a couple of weeks for the holidays though, and it was great to have all that free time to write and spend time with the family!

    1. Char Avatar

      Sara – it’s great to hear you had some extra writing time too over the holidays. We squeeze in every moment we can, right? 🙂

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