Catherine Stine's IDEA CITY

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Writing Retreats!

It’s that time again to pack up for the writing retreat I attend in New England. I look forward to this more and more every year, especially when my teaching schedule is reaching its stressful peak, with the reading and correcting of long student research papers.

So my two computers are packed, one for manuscripts, one for illustrations rendered in Photoshop. I’ve got my lightbox, my white gouache touchup paint and brushes. Then there are my beach towels, suits, sunblock and special sunhat from the Philly Flower show.

The schedule? Morning coffee on the terrace, while blabbing with my fellow scriveners, followed by three hours of writing on the wraparound porch. We lunch in the cool of the old, dark dining room, with more time to chat. Then I head back to my spot in the middle of the porch in the creaky rocking chair because rocking helps me conceptualize. Three more hours of intensive writing, while watching the occasional bunny rabbit hop across the yard to the woods. Then, ah! The group trek to the rocky beach for a dip. We take turns cooking dinner, reading our pieces, and we chat about writing, books, characters and plot concepts. When the cool breeze comes in off the nighttime woods, it’s off to bed in the camp style horsehair beds.

I highly recommend trying a retreat! You can choose one with cushy rooms, fabulous star authors and lots of clever writing exercises, or one that offers you hours of solitary writing time on a wraparound porch followed by a group beach swim like the one I attend. Even though it’s darn hard work, it’s essential community, and absolute play.


  1. wow!! It's wonderful to hear how much this means to you...I mean I knew it, but...nothing like hearing from your inner experience.

  2. Yes, even the hugely crowded Internet coffee joint is a treasured part of the experience.