I had intended to run three writing retreats in 2020, at Howsham Mill, a breathtaking watermill and nature reserve where I’d hosted retreats over the past couple of years.
Alas, not to be. Yet I know the value of those retreats. I’ve witnessed what happened when a group of people come together with the common intention to write. Even when their writing ambitions are so diverse: time to journal, time to catch up on blogs, time to write the next chapter of their novel, time to edit webpages. Or simply time to browse books and doodle and play.
I want a slice of that again. But I didn’t want zoom fatigue. Hell no. Too much zooming wears me out.
What we need is a way to sit/write/play in a retreat space at home, knowing others are with us. Time to come together and to part. An ebb and flow.
So I decided to run a Writing Retreat at Home that lets us do that. But how?
And as I was mulling this all over in my notebook (of course) I realised the themes for this retreat are ‘break’ and ‘gather’.
This struck me as harsh and ugly when I first wrote it. Associations of something broken, shattered, or cracked. But then I realised. Some things need to be broken, shattered or cracked.
We get so used to ways of being and doing that we forget there are alternatives. For some of us, a writing retreat will be the way to shatter harmful illusions or crack open a door onto new ideas. Or break the back of a daunting new project.
And some things break under strain. I’m hoping a day of writing can help us step away from usual routines and spot our own strains and splinters, and tend to them.
And finally, one of my most favourite learnings of lockdown comes from the quote attributed to the composer Claude Debussy:
‘Music is the space between the notes.’
Yes. So much yes to this. My life pre-lockdown had become a whirlwind of noise and obligation, all of my own creating because I hadn’t noticed the cacophony building. My weeks were no longer magical and musical (though I remember that that had been and could be) because there was Just. Too. Much. I needed a break. I needed to strip back.
And I’m hoping the retreat will help us do that too.
And now, to gather.
It is possible to feel lonely in a crowded room. But most of us yearn to belong, on our own terms. The writing retreats create a place for you to be heard, and seen, as much or little as you want to. To be present knowing that your presence is valued, but that your time is yours to do with as you wish.
We won’t just be gathering on the 22 August, the day of the retreat. Those who want to will gather before, so we can get to know one another, and figure out how to make the most of their retreat time. And the private Facebook group will be open in the days that follow for reflection.
And it’s also a time to gather our thoughts. To survey the landscapes within us and decide where to go next. You might already be clear on what you want to do with a day of writing, or you might just know the time is what you need and that writing will happen as it needs to. Either way it’s a gathering with others and with yourself.
Are you free on 22 August? Join us!
There are a few spaces left on the retreat on 22 August (though if it works well I will run one in October too). If a mini day of writing, with time before and after to ease and reflect is the opportunity for break and gathering you need, I’d love to have you there. Bookings open until 15 August (because I need to organise treats to post out to you in advance!).
Find out more about the first ever Writing Retreat at Home here. Let’s gather, write and make breakthroughs together.