Retreat & Kick-Start Your Writing Routine

The electric thrum of a city, a natural landscape, the ineffable quality of a song, memory, sunlight, a deep ache, a blissful encounter—what draws you to pick up your pen, reach for the keyboard, or whatever device, and start writing? And then how do you keep writing when that initial inspiration dissipates? It’s easy to say finish it, finish the thing you started, but when we consider the complexity of our lives, it’s not always that simple.

Still, we have to finish the thing that presented itself to us. The idea, the image, the story, wouldn’t have appeared if it didn’t want to come into being, and it came to you, put the responsibility on your shoulders to give it form, to create. Well, you need time and space for that. The best solution of course is to integrate writing into your daily life. It can be as little as fifteen minutes a day. Think of it as a prayer, right before you go to bed, after you brush your teeth and put on your pajamas, you sit down and write for fifteen minutes or perhaps you get up fifteen minutes earlier in the morning. To kick-start your new routine—which may seem miniscule, but over time will prove significant—you could join a writing group, take a workshop, follow one of the sage suggestions from the post “Write, or else!” by Julia Patt, or how about a week or two of solitude and silence, just you and the page: A writing retreat.

Here in North Carolina there are a couple of gem retreats that you should be aware of because, not only are they set in beautiful places like the Blue Ridge Mountains, these retreats are free! (If you don’t live in North Carolina, Poets & Writers has a robust database of retreats and conferences across the country.) Yes, you’ve got to carve out time to go on the retreat, but once you do and put that time in, any resistance you may have to committing 15 minutes or more to a daily writing routine will likely dissolve. So take a look below, and get inspired to start, continue, or finish the work at hand.

Wildacres Retreat

Three comfortable cabins at Wildacres in the Blue Ridge Mountains are available for one to two week artist residencies from April through October. Free.

The Stone House

In Mebane, North Carolina, two cabins are available for individual retreats. There is no charge, although donations are accepted and “one hour each day is requested to support The Stone House and the larger community we serve.”

Amtrak Writer Residency (no matter what state you’re in)—this is so cool, check it out!

About the Author: Neina Gordon

NeinaBiopicNeina Gordon, Contributor, is a graduate of the MFA Program at UNC Greensboro where she was the Fred Chappell Fellow and fiction editor for The Greensboro Review.  She teaches creative writing at Salem College in Winston-Salem and at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro. She has work forthcoming in Big Fiction.

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  1. Novel Fridays: Retreats | Tate Street

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