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Maybe a Writing Retreat Isn’t For Me



I stayed at a friend’s house this weekend, watching her dog and cats. It was a lovely, secluded area (by NYC standards) and I thought it would be a nice, quiet place to do some writing.

Except I kept hearing strange creaking sounds, different from my house. And the occasional car would break the dead silence and startle me as the headlights flashed in the night. And my friend’s laptop keys felt different to my fingers. (I know, that sounds weird.)

One cat inserted herself between me and the laptop that rested on my lap and reminded me how wonderful purring sounds, even if awkwardly placed. The backyard was green and fragrant. Everything caught my attention.

I couldn’t write. There was too much to absorb, sights and smells that offered new ideas and details I will probably use in some future writing. But I couldn’t write in that house. I was too busy experiencing.

Writing at home has a familiarity that allows me to ignore the creaks and the chores and turn to the page, where new things await. New places, different places, are where I go when I need new fodder for my work.

Not everyone has the luxury of having that space in their own home, and I can see how a writers’ retreat would be a great place to work. But I was happy to go home with new perceptions to absorb.

Time for me to write!


  • Jeff • July 27, 2015 at 2:53 am

    See, that just means you weren’t there long enough. After a week or two your mind would settle down and you would be able to write, since there isn’t much else for a writer to do out in the boonies.

    • J. M. Levinton • July 27, 2015 at 3:09 am

      That’s very possible. But given the cost and time constraints of a writers’ retreat, I know I’m better off staying home to write–why waste the time waiting to adjust?

  • jan • July 27, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    I’ve always wanted to go to a writer’s retreat but have never been able to either schedule it in or afford it! I’d probably spend too much time socializing to get any writing done but since I’ve never done it, I don’t know for sure!

    • J. M. Levinton • July 27, 2015 at 1:02 pm

      Well if you do go, I want a full account! 🙂

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