My mind is filled with sunshine, cicadas and swimming. Iâ€™ve just spent a week in the mountains of southern France. I go to a small retreat in the CÃ©vennes National Park each year to work on books-in-progress, to reconnect with nature and summer heat and a love of wild swimming. My first time visiting Gardoussel was at a retreat lead by Roselle Angwin. Since then, Iâ€™ve created my own retreats and written with folks like poet Sharon Black, and writers Lucy Whadham, Zoe Lambert and Tom Vowler. Itâ€™s inspiring to be in a room with other writers, especially when youâ€™ve all taken trains and buses through winding mountain roads to come together for a week or two of writing and sun.
A month ago, I had the good fortune of attending a tutored writing retreat at Ty Newydd in North Wales lead by Patience Agbabi and Jonathan Edwards. Theyâ€™re both brilliant poets and brought with them loads of exercises, insight and encouragement. And did I mention swimming? I took a dip in the sea nearby, and a seal decided to swim near me. Magical. Worthy of its own poem.
Have you ever thought of going to a retreat to write? If you’re not convinced, read this excellent blog post from Brevity magazine on taking the time away to do one thing: write. It doesnâ€™t need to be far away. Groups like Writers HQ organise local, inexpensive writing days all around the UK. Or maybe you could organise something for yourself and a few friends who like to write? A sunny garden or a kitchen table on a rainy day is a great place to join with friends and write. Sometimes, when I meet with other writers, we make up exercises for each other, or just talk about our projects and get to work. And because weâ€™re all together for a brief time, the working hours are often extra productive. And we often add a â€˜sip and shareâ€™ in the eveningâ€”after a quiet afternoon apart, we come back together for a drink in the evening and read out some of the dayâ€™s progress. There are so many possibilities! If you have ever thought of writing with friends, I encourage you to send out invites and see what happens.
And because I always like to end with a song, hereâ€™s something from Hang Massive that I love writing to, their viral music video â€˜Once Againâ€™.