Saturday, December 11, 2010

Writers' Retreat

I was reflecting on a trip I took several years ago to a writers’ retreat in Pennsylvania. It was around this time of year that I spent a week secluded in a cabin surrounded by hundreds of trees and a nearby creek. It was cold when I arrived and some snow was on the ground. There were about a dozen other cabins for the other writers attending. We met each morning in the “big” house down the pathway where we had scrumptious breakfasts and settled down in the cozy living room to start our day.

Cabins in the woods
There were eight of us plus three faculty and for the next six days, we immersed ourselves in writing, making new friends, reflecting, experiencing great conversation at dinner every night, and joining in critique sessions. We came from all over the country and wrote in different genres. The faculty members gave us excellent guidance in the writing process. It was a writer's dream. I kept a journal while there. Here is an excerpt from the first day.

My Cabin
It’s cold here but the sun is out and remnants of powdered snow still blanket the ground. Glad I brought my boots. My one-room cabin is nestled in a wooded area. The window in the cabin faces hundreds of huge trees. They stand firm and tall letting the sun filter through. A few orange leaves still cling stubbornly to some trees as if not wanting to yield to the coming winter cold. The small cabin creaks as the wind hits the walls. I like that the cabin has a tiny porch and a rocking chair where I can sit and take in the beautiful scenery. The radio is playing Christmas carols, but the reception is coming in with a lot of static. We’re out in the boonies; no cell phone service here. A few yards away are the other writers’ cabins. Can hardly wait for tomorrow to start the writers’ workshop.

My porch and rocking chair
After that week was over, I was more focused on where my story was going. I had a clearer map of the storyline. I listened and I learned. I had been experiencing doubts about my writing, but after that week, I felt validated. It was great being among experienced faculty and writers passionate about their work. If you ever get a chance to attend such a retreat, do so. We need to nurture ourselves as writers when we get the opportunity. For me, it was an inspirational experience I remember to this day.

"The most important thing you can bring with you to a writers' conference (workshop) is an open and alert mind, ready and willing to listen and learn. Take advantage of every opportunity the conference/workshop offers." --  Writer's Digest Weekly Planner


  1. Loved It! Thank you for writing about your experience. I hope to go to one one day.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Sofia. I do hope someday you will attend a writer's workshop such as this one. Your creative juices flow when you're in such a setting. Best of luck.