This past weekend I spent a luxurious time at Westminster House in Alamo, California, participating in a writing retreat that produced words, wisdom, friendship, great dining and lots of peace in nature. We communed with deer, a fox, quail, and even a Labradoodle who wandered into our open door to share his friendly attitude.
Built in the 1920s, Westminster’s main house’s lovely redwood-walled rooms and cozy fireplace charm reminded me of a Julia Morgan design, with cheerful flowered wallpaper in the bedrooms invoking a time when life was slow-paced and reflective.
Our group stayed at the carriage house, complete with upstairs bedrooms and bathrooms and horse stall bedrooms downstairs, made comfortable with its horse shoe western-theme. I swear I heard a horse neigh . . .
Our group focused on writing, while others who are there quilt, pray, hike or hold family reunions.
Why seek a writing retreat?
A change of scenery can refresh your whole attitude and may spark your creativity. Just being around other writers who are enthusiastic about the process, love reading, and think verbs are cool, does something to your inspiration.
Then there’s the no phones or door bells ringing, or messages you must deliver to family members. No Internet (or hopefully not) and only a bell notifying you it’s meal time, which you don’t have to provide. The laundry buzzer doesn’t go off, dusty tabletops don’t beckon you to clean, and nothing requires your attention but the manuscript in front of you.
What more can a writer desire?
If you haven’t booked a writer’s retreat, I urge you to try it. You can go at it alone, with a friend, or your writer’s group. After one success, you’ll become addicted and you’ll return for others.
What should you bring to a retreat?
For work, bring one or more of your projects and perhaps some writing exercises for fun. A writing game or questions to inspire conversation during a group break could be good too. Snacks and drinks are an option, although with the delicious array Westminster provided, we were never hungry.
I brought my favorite writing tool: The Synonym Finder by J. I. Rodale, along with a book in case I decided to read. This particular retreat had the option of staying over night or just being there during the day. Whatever and where ever you choose, you’ll appreciate the relaxation. And with relaxing, comes the freeing sensation which allows you to write more deeply. Go for it!
http://www.uccr.org/westmin.htm Westminster Retreat
Photos show the carriage house