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What is your Dream Writer’s Retreat? #IWSG

Writer's retreatWhat’s your idea of a Writer’s retreat? I recently saw an article on the writer’s retreats of some famous authors, Rowling, Hemingway, Ian Fleming and the like.

I stay on the lookout for nice places, on the off-chance I get to retire in them long term, or get short-term residencies. Recently, I stayed at a hotel in Udaipur, In Rajasthan, India– a family trip, not much to do with writing. It was an estate with stunning views all around, and I did a spot of writing while there. See all the pictures here.

For my money though, the best writing often comes to me at places with no view. My study table faces a blank wall. I write often at food courts– noisy, and not exactly the best view. For me, my writing must be a world I can escape into, and beautiful views make that hard. A writer’s retreat for me would be a comfy room, room service with a diverse menu (most important!) and, no television or internet. A room with a decent, but not spectacular view, no special place to go outside of that room.

Put me in front of a good view, and I want to stare at it, maybe take a walk, breathe the air, lose track of words, get lost. Writing seems like drudgery at that point.

I do have words or characters pop by for a minute or two when I’m in the midst of nature, and I’ve learned to note them down. But when in a beautiful place, I want my body and soul replenished, that’s it. Not much writing.

What about you? If you’re a writer, do good views make you want to write? What’s your idea of an ideal writer’s retreat? If you’re a reader, do you ever wonder what writers’ lives are like– and what places they write in?


Writer's retreatThis post was written for the IWSG. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for organizing and hosting the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) every month! Go to the site to see the other participants. In this group we writers share tips, self-doubt, insecurities, and of course, discuss the act of writing. If you’re a writer and a blogger, go join rightaway!

I host the monthly We Are the World Blogfest: I’d like to invite you to join, if you haven’t as yet, to post the last Friday of each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity.Writer's Retreat

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Deepak says:

    I have attended three writing retreats as of now. It is amazing to connect with fellow writers in such forums. However about the location, Hills always inspire me for short breaks in between for a hikes and walks. I wish to volunteer for a writing retreat shortly. Would you like to join us as guest speaker?

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Hi Deepak, thanks for writing in, and yes, hills inspire me, too. as to helping at a retreat, if you email me at ‘write at damyantiwrites dot com’, we can take this further.

  • Any time away from the kids. If I can lock myself in my room for an hour…that’ll work for me, lol.

  • I find that I can’t write at my house. There’s no dedicated area and there’s no privacy. Such is life with kids. Nine times out of ten, I have to make a plan for writing the same way I plan a date with my wife. And nine times out of ten, the plan falls through.

  • abhiray59 says:

    i would agree with you. What is written by your pen actually is synthesised in your brain. Once idea is formulated, it does not matter where you write – in a closed room or in a market place.

  • I go to a periodic writing retreat in Port Townsend, Washington that’s held in the barracks of a former military base–Fort Worden. It has a lovely view and there’s a beach and a cute costal town right there, but it’s usually pretty rainy when I’m there. It encourages sitting at a table with a laptop rather than wandering and I generally find it a crazy productive couple of days.

  • One of the reasons I chose to live where I do is it is a retreat. A forest is my front and backyard, I can’t see any houses and if a car comes down the road it’s irritating. 🙂

  • My ideal retreat would be a cabin somewhere cool in a compound surrounded by trees — with the sound of a stream gurgling in the background — where no one could distract me by phone or email, but where wonderful meals were served in a communal dining hall so that other writers could (and would) gather to discuss how their writing was going in salon fashion for regular breaks of an hour to 90 minutes.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

  • I have learned to write anywhere, but one of my favorite places is a tiny island in the river near my home. When the river is low, I wade over to it and write.

  • Mark Murata says:

    I don’t need a retreat; I tend to write in shopping malls.

  • matheikal says:

    I need a quiet and solitary place, nothing more.

  • Lensq says:


  • Karen Lange says:

    Any of these wonderful places would make a great retreat location. I’d probably be torn between absorbing the beauty and writing. But I’m open to giving a shot. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by my blog this week. It’s nice to see you. Have a great weekend!

  • Stunning pics! Writers definitely need a peaceful place to commune with nature and WRITE…. I hope to creating a writers’ retreat in the not so distant future. There is a charming town about three hours west of Chicago called Galena, IL… I hope to be purchasing a Victorian or Georgian home and hosting a writers’ retreat at least once a year. It would be SO AWESOME!

    Here’s to a lovely dream for all of us to find our tranquil writers’ retreat!

  • macjam47 says:

    Your photos are lovely. I could not write in such beautiful surroundings. A writer’s retreat for me would have to be somewhere more secluded where I would have no distraction other than the beauty around me.

  • dweezer19 says:

    I lived it in Costa Rica. Miss that time terribly. It was a gift.

  • Christine says:

    I visited a place a couple years ago in the woods on a mountain. There was a large common room to be social in and share thoughts, ideas, aspirations with others. We shared small rooms with not much more than two twin beds and a window. Out back was a large deck with wood benches, a large grassy area with a shed-turned-classroom and a small pond. If you were to venture further out, you would have the opportunity to adventure through trails and over rotted bridges and across small streams. It was on a wooden bench on the deck where I sat in the sun and looked around at the world that I unlocked a box with a poem in it. To this day, it remains one of my favorite poems I’ve ever written!

  • Nick Wilford says:

    I don’t have an ideal writing retreat, but in a place like in your photos I would just want to relax, as beautiful as it is! I kind of need to avoid all distractions when writing. I mean, I write in the dark in the early morning, the only view is the garden and I can’t see it. What I’m seeing is the world in the story. A good walk in nice scenery helps for sorting out plotlines though!

  • I often don’t notice what’s going on. I’m inside, in my thoughts. So, any view will do!

  • I agree with you on that point. I find that a beautiful view will often leave me daydreaming, allowing my mind to wander while I soak up the images and descriptions that come to mind. At these times I don’t feel like writing. Later I will sit down in front of my computer and call up those memories. All I want right now is a decent length of child-free time in which to be creative, with food and drink provided… 😉

  • I had to think about that. My office has a nice outlook but when I have a story in mind I have to follow it through and not be distracted or I lose the scene in my head that dictates what my fingers type. lol

  • Christy B says:

    Oh yes to a writer’s retreat! I would love to look out on nature and perhaps have tea brought to me with some chocolate too… Well I can dream ~ Oh wait, inspiration calls! <3

  • Beth Camp says:

    Your pictures of the perfect writing retreat made me drool! Lovely post. Actually, though, I can write anywhere, from a laptop balanced on a coffee table in an anonymous hotel room to my own home office with photos crowding each wall. I tend to write early and late; the ‘view’ is my story as images and characters spill from the keyboard onto that ‘virtual’ page. But a writing retreat. Your post invites me to try a retreat. Maybe someday. Have a great month of writing.

  • Amazing clicks. I also love to join for #WATWB !!!

  • curtisbausse says:

    Fully agree with the blank wall – the view is in my mind. Then every so often, a couple of minutes to look out over greenery before returning to the wall.

  • Having that great view for writing is one of those writer’s dreams. Sounds great in theory, but the reality is the view becomes a distraction. And we are so easily distracted!!

  • Hmm, this hits home a little. I am just getting back into my own writing. I have the luxury of workroom to myself at home with everything I want to hand… and a window looking over part of the garden and two bird feeders. You are right, the outdoors is distracting, being at home is distracting as there are washes to put on, meals to be thought of, the garden always calling etc. Yet, this is definitely the place I am happiest writing.

  • Tikeetha T says:

    Painful situations make me want to write. Not necessarily the view.

  • Jemima Pett says:

    No, I need a view. As far-seeing as possible. So I can gaze into the distance with nothing much to distract me, save a passing CalMac ferry on its way to Tiree and Coll – but I just have to make do with the bridge outside my window, and ignore the traffic on it!
    Jemima with an environmental haiku for Thursday

  • miladyronel says:

    I get easily distracted, so though beautiful scenery makes for a great afternoon walk, closed curtains make for a productive day 🙂

  • I wish I could find a suitable spot to write – and a writers retreat sounds amazing;
    Thanks for those beautiful photos – they’re inspiring me to travel and find a place too.

  • Mick Canning says:

    Somewhere quiet, comfortable and peaceful, with or without a view!

  • lexacain says:

    Your post and reasoning are very interesting. I write better in my writing room, no view, no noise, where everything is known and familiar and nothing requires a second look. In other words: Dullsville. lol Then I can spice up my boring spot with exciting stories and brave heroes and heroines!

  • ericlahti says:

    I usually write in the living room kicking back on my chair. Unless the dog stole my spot.

  • simonfalk28 says:

    At the moment, just getting to such a place is more the issue for some of us. I love the views, and, like Alex, can write near views. Also in cafes and malls, or outside. Thanks for another great post. 🙂

  • raven avery says:

    I actually find that all my best inspiration also comes from doing mundane things, so I would probably want a plain space with some menial tasks left for me, but it would maybe also be in a place that has lovely views when walking because I can’t keep still for too long. Not much to ask for 🙂

  • Debbie D. says:

    Thanks for sharing those beautiful photos! I can see where a place like that might be a distraction if your purpose is working. On the other hand, it might provide inspiration. Key West (Florida) and Ernest Hemingway’s home have always been attractive to me. I hope to visit there, one of these days.

  • focusedplans says:

    I love to “Retreat” so much I started my own 5 years ago. I love a quiet and comfortable environment. To add comfort we have a prayer and meditation room open long hours each day, hosted in a nice affordable hotel, and we have someone giving chair and hand massage daily. Being in a place with like minded people is also retreat enough.

  • I recently moved to rural Ireland where my partner and I have a house with a big basement, presently just a garage, but this year it is going to be partitioned to make a section of it into a large study / library. I’m going to make it a plain, functional room with light coloured decor. As it is in the basement, the ‘view’ through the window is of our oil tank and coal bunker and I can just about see the trees at the rear of our garden beyond those. But, it will be big enough to host writers’ groups for me and my writing friends. So I’m really excited about it! All I need is the time to write, rather than worrying about builders, flooring, furniture, the day job, etc…

  • If it was just a scene I could look at but there were no activities, I could write.

  • literarylad says:

    For me, it’s anywhere with good, strong coffee. So cafes are good (although the music and the conversation can sometimes be distracting). I like writing outside, when it’s warm enough, and good decor in an interior helps put me in a good mood – depressing rooms don’t help me. And no food – for some reason I can’t write while I’m eating!

  • Almost Iowa says:

    At our old house, I built a cabin far back in my woods and loved to look out the window at the deer passing by and the turkey bouncing off the trees (they are not graceful flyers. Here is a picture of it on a winter’s day.

    We moved and now I write on the porch with a view of my pond when the weather allows. I prefer a place with a view. It inspires rather than detracts from my writing.

  • ccyager says:

    The perfect writer’s retreat for me would be somewhere very, very quiet, but close to Nature so I could go for walks, with an excellent shower in the bathroom, an excellent stereo system for playing classical music, and someone to cook my meals and take care of the chores. While looking through the famous author’s retreats, I was especially taken with George Orwell’s retreat, but then I also loved Mark Twain’s. I grew up not far from Elmira, NY, and I know the landscape there. I loved walking in the woods! Right now, I work at my desk that faces the wall between the kitchen and hall with the living room windows behind me. And I must do all the cooking and chores! (smile)

  • LOL! Give me quiet and I’m set. No special needs beyond that. Actually, I prefer to have a little bit of green outside my window, and some sunlight. Anywhere with people is too distracting, and anywhere new makes me want to go explore.

  • I don’t think I could write well in a beautiful place where the outside beckons either. I have a pretty room where I can open the windows and relax with my laptop. Occasionally, the hummingbirds fly inside to check out the flowers, but that’s my only distraction. 🙂

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – I’m someone who needs no interruptions … though to be able to glance out at some space is important – now I look out over the sea … which is bliss – it’ll be there when I look up in a minute … I usually write with out music – so I guess being in my own space is where I’d need to be – but perhaps place it in a luxurious setting with all the mod cons – so there’s some relief from the page! If one is involved escape into the writing comes … cheers HIlary

  • Robert Varga says:

    Poems come best to my mind while being outside. For other writing purposes being inside and in silence works best.

  • dehelen says:

    For me, a writer’s retreat is a place to replenish my body and soul. I may or may not do any actual writing while I’m there. I can and do write at home (every day), but when I need to think, to dream, or work on a project that takes a big chuck of time, I appreciate a writer’s retreat. I love views, places to walk, quiet, prepared meals, company of other artists. My first retreat was six weeks in a mountain cabin in Oregon in winter. I got tons of writing done, but I was lonely. (No tv, smartphone, internet etc.) My favorite was probably the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Ireland. I’d love a two week retreat somewhere soon to work on putting together a full-length book of poetry from the hundreds of poems I’ve written in the past few years.

  • One year I went to Yaddo, and it suited me very well. A quiet room, a study where I could lay my manuscript across the floor and leave it there, Most important, my brown-bag lunch was left at my door, and I could work all day without stopping. Dinner was communal with a handful of interesting writers, one with such a gift for friendship that I became her friend forever. I revised my novel, changed the chronology of the pages on the floor, and was introduced to a literary agent. Also, I went in March, when there were more and longer openings than in the summer months. Unforgettable. I could conquer the world if only someone made me a brown-bag lunch every day..

  • awshannonauthor says:

    My favorite writing place is my home office. It has everything I need and very few distractions. Unfortunately I don’t get to use it as often as I’d like right now. I’m looking forward to when that changes.
    I find any space full of people distracting as I am a people watcher.

  • cheisserer says:

    I hunt for snowy cabin-like places where the room is warm and the outside views are beautiful but somewhat hostile. A change in scenery always helps me balance focused writing and research/reading. The writing space is definitely more important than the view.

  • archfriar says:

    I could never write in public like that anymore than i could study there. It has to be quiet or i cant concentrate so you’re interesting that way. As for a retreat if i could find where Cormac comes out of hiding like he once in a while and actually takes questions and answers them i would make every effort to be there.

  • Somewhere where the air outside is as nice as the air inside. Comfortable enough to sit outside with my laptop, wifi strong enough for all the research that goes hand in hand with writing.

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