I Attended a Writing Retreat
Last week I attended a writing retreat run by ‘Imagine Creative Writing Courses and Workshops’. I write full-time at home and wondered whether I was wasting my money on the trip, or whether deep down it was just a nice excuse to get away and let someone else cook my meals for four days. We arrived wearing face masks and were armed with hand sanitiser and a pack of wipes to wipe down all the surfaces we touched - (part of the current world we are living in). The retreat was set on Exmoor in a County House where there is no mobile signal, no 4g and the wifi was prone to disappear every now and again. At first I felt a little panicky being cut off from the outside world, but the lack of distraction soon paid off.
Every day I woke at about seven and got straight in front of my laptop. There was no outside noise apart from the birds tweeting and the occasional rain shower. It took me a little while to get used to my surroundings but as soon as I began to write, the words tumbled out. I worked through until one p.m. at which time we had lunch, which was either a delicious homemade soup or a home-made quiche.
We were joined by best selling novelist Helen Callaghan who gave us an excellent workshop on creating suspense in our writing- this was really useful and Helen explained that suspense can be inserted into all types of genres, not only in thrillers, to make our writing more engaging. This was followed by another fantastic home cooked meal.
During our stay we also had one-to-one sessions with the partners of imagine. I spent time with Alison, who is also my editor and she helped me focus on the bigger picture of what I wanted to achieve with the current cosy mystery series.
The retreat was attended by people at all different stages of their careers, writing in a variety of genres. Some published and others not but all of us had a shared passion for writing. It is inspiring to spend time with like minded people that understand how life can be as a writer. We are not alone.
So was it worth it? I wrote 15,000 words in three days which is pretty good going and also found my mind had an increased sense of clarity when it came to plotting. It was useful to step back and look at my writing career objectively. And Northmoor house is an absolutely beautiful place to stay. It is has a large lush garden with access to private woodland. The house is so inspiring that Jenny Kane, who is the other half of the Imagine team, has written a series of novels set at this location.
If you have ever thought about attending a writing retreat I highly recommend it and details about imagine and their workshops can be found here: https://www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk/writing-retreats.