How to Design Your Own Writing Retreat

This semester, my Writer’s Loft mentor is Charlotte Raines Dixon. She’s got an excellent blog and newsletter. This morning, my inbox included some wonderful words of wisdom on creating your own writing retreat and I want to share. These are great, low budget suggestions for people for whom taking a full weekend or flying away are not an option. Hope you enjoy and are inspired to plan your own.

How to Design a Writing Retreat
By Charlotte Rains Dixon

Feeling a bit disconnected from your writing? Longing to have an extended period of time to delve deeply into a writing project? Have a looming deadline? Perhaps what you need is a writing retreat. You can design yourself a writing retreat for any amount of time from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks, and make it as simple or complicated as you’d like. Here are some suggestions that cover the gamut:

1. Take a Writing Retreat at Home. Commit to an hour or a whole weekend to working on your project without going anywhere. This takes a bit more discipline, I think, to carry on with the work while battling the distractions of home. But it can be done. Tell all family and friends that you will not be available, stock up on tea/coffee and snacks, then go into your office and close the door. Turn off your phone, shut down your inboxes and have at it for the appointed amount of time.

2. Create a Self-Designed Retreat. A friend of mine used to take two-day retreats at a nearby college town. This was a good choice because there’s generally cheap lodging and cheap eats, plus a campus to stroll through for writing breaks. If you’ve got a university town nearby, try it. Just be sure to check you’re not trying to have your retreat on Parent’s or Homecoming weekend. If there’s not a college town close by, resort towns in the off-season can work well and be inexpensive. Or rent a motel room across town!

3. Take a Retreat at a Writing House. Many writing organizations have houses that offer cheap rentals to writers. Here in Portland, I know of two—one in town and one an hour away at the beach. Some are rentable by the day, or the week—Google writing organizations for your city and see what comes up.

4. Go In With a Friend. Find a friend or two and plan a writing getaway. Join up and rent a house or motel (get connecting rooms) at a motel or resort (as above). Having more of you will bring the cost down and keep the motivation up. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

5. Check into Spiritual Locations. Many monasteries and other such places offer rooms for silent retreats which can include writing. The amenities may be Spartan, but you’re writing, right, so who cares?

Whichever option you choose, I hope you will try retreating for your writing. It is truly an amazing way to connect with your work.

Ten-Minute Tip: Take a Mini-Retreat

This one is ridiculously easy and crazy hard. First of all, decide you’re going to take an hour off. To do nothing or something that you really, really want to do (like writing). And then do it. Shut down your inboxes, turn off your phone, and….just do it. You’ll thank me. You really will.

Writer, mentor, and coach Charlotte Rains Dixon is passionate about helping writers, coaches, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals succeed, achieve, and profit in their careers and lives through writing. Visit her for more tips and techniques on writing—and living—at

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