Catherine Stine's IDEA CITY

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer Writing Retreats, the Pause that Inspires

My writing station
I just got back from a writing retreat on Cape Cod. I go to a retreat every July and January. It's an amazing, inspiring, informative, fun experience and it builds community. I often start the draft of a novel in July, and this summer was no exception. Finally, I had the time and peace of mind to plunge into an NA historical fantasy, set in the 1930s. I also had time to open a Pinterest account and create a board for my new novel. Why did I wait so long to visually organize my novel elements?! Wanna follow me there? I'll follow you back!

At the retreat we do readings in the evenings,
Our gang
and they're always helpful. There's nothing like running your newest work by fellow writers who you trust implicitly, to make sure you're on the right track with a fledgling project. Each night someone makes a dinner. Good way to sample interesting food.
Emily's veggie fest dinner

Other retreats and conferences that I recommend are Squaw Valley, the SCBWI Summer Conference out in LA (& winter one in NYC), the Mendocino Writers' Conference, the Chautauqua conference & Southampton workshop. If you have the time, you could do a residency. I have a friend who liked Ragdale.
Emily and her coconut yogurt
with lemon zest!
Stairs to beach
Helen ordering pizza

Maggie being writerly
Have you attended a retreat or conference you'd recommend?

In June, I also taught at a writers' retreat in Rosemont College for MFA students, which rocked the house. I got to try out some crazy-fun new writing prompts on them *insert evil cackle here*
My smart & uber-creative MFA students
Rosemont gargoyles
Some of the Rosemont teachers & faculty

So, do you do retreats, conferences or workshops? Have you ever organized your own? If not, how do you refresh and relight your creative spark?


  1. The retreat sounds, and looks, amazing! What a wonderful way to recharge! I haven't ever been to one, but maybe someday :)

  2. I used to do two a year. I need to do another soon.

    Looks like you had a great time, Catherine. :)

  3. I've never done a writing retreat, but looks like a great place for one!

  4. So envious of your writing retreat in Cape Cod. Would love to do that. I've been to the SCBWI LA conference before, and the Rutgers One on One conference for children's writers (though I write adult stuff now). And we have two local conferences here in Colorado I often go to. But a retreat where you get to share writing at the end of the day over a friend's cooking -- awesome. :)

  5. LG, sounds like you've been to some good events too!

  6. It looks fantastic! I love the pics - the people look so happy and relaxed, the food looks great, and those gargoyles are super! Thanks for sharing your eventful summer with us. :)

  7. I've been to a few conferences, and although I love being with other writers, I must admit I'm always exhausted for a week after them. Dang social anxiety! A retreat sounds much more relaxing. And what a beautiful place to have one!

  8. That sounds awesome! I'd love to go to a writing retreat. No big crowds. Just relaxing with other writers. :)

  9. Ooh, Cherie, I sympathize. Yes, huge conferences can be stressful and social overload! That's exactly why I love small group retreats best. We should do a UR retreat one of these years!

  10. Oh, wow. Your writing retreat looked perfect. I'd love to do one myself, when money permits.

    Ellie Garratt

  11. Love this post and pics! What an amazing time. I do love my writer retreats and hope to make one of yours someday soon! I go on one at a lake in June and Sept each year with a fab group of women. This fall also trying the Highlights retreat in PA where you get your own cabin - and solitude! Hope you got a lot of writing done at yours, Catherine!