If you’d me asked a couple of years ago whether the thought of a writer’s retreat appealed, I’d have said no, of course not! I can write at home, it just takes routine and discipline. But a few months ago, looking after a toddler and working all hours blogging, I found myself craving being able to get away from the demands of home life.
I was coming to the end of a final draft of a YA novel and just couldn’t see how I could make the time to finish it. The only thing that made sense was somehow having a few days away where I had nothing else to focus on. That’s when my agent put me in touch with Deborah from Retreats For You.
A beautiful old listed house in the small village of Sheepwash in north Devon with a thatched roof and lush garden catering to the needs of people with projects – or not! Some come purely for a bit of R&R – Retreats For You became my three-day work haven.
On arrival, I immediately sunk into the laid-back vibe of ‘Do what you want, when you want’. There was no pressure to even turn up to meals if you preferred a tray in your room. As it was, I savoured the company and comings and goings of other writers and visitors, the light chit-chat and support.
Encouraged not to lift a finger – no bringing dishes into the kitchen or making your bed – I fully indulged myself and spent practically all my time in my room at my little desk, with cups of tea and home-made flapjacks to keep me going. And knowing that my time was short, I worked and worked and achieved even more than I had hoped. I should mention I was re-writing a draft from third person to first person with all the story in place. I typed and typed until my eyes were bloodshot!
After supper, Deb would come up with a hot water bottle and check all was ok in my world. It was, very much so! On my very last day, I took a beautiful walk through the fields down to the river, clearing my mind and stretching my limbs, preparing to return to the real world. I already dream of going back!
Retreats For You http://www.retreatsforyou.co.uk/
(I travelled by train from Paddington, London to Exeter St David and then took a 40 minute taxi ride to Sheepwash.)
Julia Rebaudo is a writer and journalist and blogs at: www.stylonylon.com