What to pack when heading off for a writing retreat.


There is nothing worse than being so involved in your work that hours pass and you pause to find your fingers curled into talons, your back needs to be crunched and your stomach growling for food because you have happened to have missed breakfast, lunch and dinner.

In truth, this has NEVER happened to me but...I believe for some people, it can, may, and does occur. So when going away, it is always great to have a selection of easy meals and snacks. Healthy snacks such as fruit and nuts, rice cakes and hummus.


I mean you have to take your major WIP (work in progress) with you...why else are you going away with a bunch of fellow writers? Surely, some say, you could work on said piece at home. Alone. Or with assorted children/ grandchildren/ pets/ siblings/ parents/ spouses surrounding you. (AS IF)

Writing, surely, is easy. Sit down and do it....this is often said by those that don't really understand all the procrastination, er I mean other duties that can be found at home.

So taking the major WIP is a necessity....this is why you wanted time away isn't it? To finally knuckle down and finish/ redraft/ edit/ that piece. What did you think you would do? Sit around and talk while sipping a chardonnay?


Not that there will be a zumba marathon or yoga afternoon (although it is tempting). Exercise gear, or in more real terms, comfortable clothes are a must. You have to be comfortable, not restricted...and it always helps when you feel that need to get outside and walk.

I have much experience of this walking whilst on writing retreat caper. In fact I tend to do more walking than actual writing. But as I walk I'm contemplating and working out plot points and character flaws...I'm reworking sentence structure and refiguring character arcs and dead holes.
I'm sure I am...yes...pretty sure.


For those moments when the muse abandons you and everyone else in the house has their head down, working furiously on their own work, this is the time to pick up one of the many books you have brought along. Variety is the key here.

Perhaps you are feeling too vulnerable for that Scandinavian noir crime...easier to dip into a short story collection. There is of course, nothing worse than to have NOTHING  to read. This is when preparation counts...there must be a supply of reading material.


You must bring notebooks...yes plural. There will be all those notes you take on your WIP (remember how I previously stated this is the MUST to be worked on during a retreat) of course you will be struck with wonderful ideas. Random thoughts of how to weave minor plot points throughout...character strengths to bolster...ways to kill off one of your characters and still maintain reader adoration.

Or to note down all those other ideas that flock when you are trying to work seriously on one solid thing. Lines of poems, non fiction ideas, that essay that just pops into your mind. That great opening paragraph for your next novel - even though this one is nowhere near finished.


This, I have found is the most important of them all. No matter what I have planned, no matter what I think I will work on, something else always pops up. This is what happens when you are trapped  I mean sharing space with fellow writers. You talk, mull over ideas, spark conversations. Ideas flow with the wine.

This is the time to accept them all. Note them down (in your notebooks) and allow them to germinate. They don't have to take over now, but if they want to be written, get them down. Spending a few hours now, while those ideas are fresh and tasty is the best.

So there you go, all that you need to take with you when you prepare to head off on a writing retreat.

Let me know if you think I have forgotten something important, as I'm beginning to pack.



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