I haven’t really written much of anything since the Winchester Festival in mid-June. I mean, I’ve been adding days to my habit pledge tracking spreadsheet, because I have been working on writing-related stuff, or making notes for projects, or mostly posting reviews.
But I haven’t felt as if I’ve really written anything new, other than one fanfic.
So, I was both excited and apprehensive about heading to Devon for a writing retreat this past week.
I made a long list of all the writing and non-writing activities I might get on with while I was there, packed way too much stuff, and made my way to Paddington on Monday morning.
It was a three-hour direct train to Exeter, which is exactly the sort of journey I like. And I decided not to let the opportunity pass me by. I had all my notes for a short story I wanted to break the back of during the week, so I set up my tablet and got to work, completing over 500 words over the course of the journey.
It was a 50 minute taxi drive from the station to Sheepwash, and I finally arrived at Retreats for You around 2pm. Debbie, who runs the retreats, gave me a very warm welcome and an extensive tour of the amazing 17th century house.
One of the great things about Retreats for You is that the retreat runs from lunchtime to lunchtime, rather than the usual schedule of arriving after 5pm on the first day and leaving around 9am on the last. So, I utilised the momentum I’d generated on the train and got straight back to work once I’d settled in my room.
The next three and a half days flew by in a blur of productivity, relaxation, and good company. There were three other writers there at the same time as me, and we had some very interesting and wide-ranging meal-time discussions. I also enjoyed watching village life out of my window, which looked out onto the square.
But, best of all, I wrote three whole short stories (two of which I didn’t even know I was going to write before I arrived in Sheepwash) and finally got on with my second novel, which has been languishing for months.
I have learned over the course of many years that I don’t have to be ‘in the right frame of mind’ to write. But, having a week away from home - in beautiful surroundings, with delicious food laid on, and other writers to talk to in the evenings - certainly doesn’t hurt!
I will certainly return to Sheepwash, hopefully many more times, as and when my schedule allows.