Kay: Writing Retreats

This is the home of authors Stephen and Tabitha King in Bangor, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

Now that we are in the month of NaNo, many of us are hunkered down, grinding out a daily 1,667 words letting our imaginations take flight in a concentrated, one-month writing extravaganza.

You can maybe tell this is not my thing.

However, I am deeply attracted to the idea of a writers retreat, where people can go and maybe write or maybe just cogitate or brainstorm. I like the idea of getting away from daily life, a healthy disruption that removes us from our routines and can jar those neurons into bouncing in new directions.

So here’s a retreat I’d like to try: Stephen King spends most of his time in Florida these days, so he’s turning his house in Bangor, Maine, into a research center and writers retreat. The city recently rezoned his place so that it could run as a nonprofit, and research opportunities will be by appointment only and not available to the general public. So far there’s no word on how to apply to become one of the five lucky visiting writers—evidently the retreat itself is still probably a couple of years down the road. But it just seems like the writing vibes would be incredible there. Not to mention the house. Check out the winged creatures on the gate.

Construction of the Storyknife facility in Homer, Alaska, is almost completed.

And here’s another interesting-sounding retreat: Dana Stabenow, one of my favorite mystery authors, has built Storyknife, a nonprofit womens writing retreat in Homer, Alaska. Applications opened Nov. 1 (and will close Dec. 31); one-month and two-week residencies run April through October. There’s a $35 application fee and you have to get to Homer on your own, but once you’re there, your stay is free. You stay in a small cabin, make your own breakfast, and share dinner with the other residents. Sounds like fun!

I like the idea of writers retreats so much that I’ve even thought about staring my own. My name doesn’t have the same cachet as Stephen King or Dana Stabenow, but it seems like as long as there’s a NaNo, there will be people who need to sit down somewhere quiet and focus.

What about you? Do you like to get away to write?

6 thoughts on “Kay: Writing Retreats

  1. I’m on a writing retreat right now. Cruising Writers. We’re currently docked in San Juan PR and I’m taking advantage of the relative quiet to work through my editor’s comments. The days we’re at sea, we are in workshops, but there’s plenty of time to write (not to mention I learned some great stuff from Alex Solokoff on plotting).

    Last year, I spent a week in London in a little flat all by myself and got a serious amount of writing done. I think the 8-hour time difference between me and my family helped a lot. There weren’t constant interruptions and phone calls asking “where is this” and “when do we do that.” I wrote all day and by the time I was worn out, it was time for them to start asking questions/bugging me. 🙂 I cranked through about 22K words that week, got my website running, and edited my short story. It was very productive.

    So I say YAY! Yes, Kay, start a writer’s retreat! I’ll be one of the first to sign up!

    • It’s like a writers retreat is really helpful to you, Justine. Yay on getting all that work done! And the writers retreat on a boat in the Caribbean – what could be better than that? Have fun!

  2. Stephen King’s house looks amazing, but–eek–not the obvious retreat for a romance writer ;-).

    I write best solo, in the comfort of my own home, but I love brainstorming with other writers. I’d love you to start a retreat–we could sit on the porch and drink coffee and wine and eat cherry pie and bounce ideas around. I bet I’d get a whole series worth of good stuff.

  3. Isn’t Stephen King’s house incredible? In this news about his converting it to an archive and writers retreat, I read that he’s tried to keep the place from becoming a tourist destination, but people continue to drive up and take selfies at the gate. Bangor, Maine would seem a long way to go to gain proximity to Stephen King, but what do I know about fandom.

    I’m getting to the point where I can think about the writers retreat again. There was that house with the nice porch…

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