At A Writing Colony

I’m excited to report that this month I’m trying something new in my writing career. For the rest of August I’ll be at a writing and art colony in upstate New York, focusing exclusively on my own writing projects. Some of my goals include finishing the novel editing and starting some new short stories that I’ve been kicking around my head for a while.

This does mean that posts will be a little slower around Writerly Life for a little while. I’ll try to send along updates when I can, but my focus is to really stay off the grid as much as possible for the next few weeks. I have no idea how I’ll react to this sort of writing environment — but that’s why it’s an experiment! I’m very excited to see how my writing proceeds when it’s the only thing on my plate.

Have you ever participated in a writer’s retreat or artist’s colony? If so, what do you recommend to get the most out of it? What are some of the dangers and pitfalls? Share your thoughts in the comments, and stay tuned to hear more thoughts on a writing colony.


  1. mary brady says:

    Off to an artists’ colony, are you? And in Upstart New York, too.
    I’d be very careful if I were you.

    I went to such a retreat once & by the 3rd day we’d degenerated to “Lord of the Flies.” Everyone ran around in shredded clothes,
    war paint on their faces, yelling wild threats at anyone they came across. It was a truly horrifying experience…

    No, that didn’t really happen. The closest I’ve come to a retreat is spending three weeks each summer, for about 6 years, at a Zen monastery here in CA. I went as a ‘working guest’ & lived with the monks-in-training. It was incredibly fun but also intense. Meditate 6 hours a day & you can really go to some strange head spaces.

    I think you should just aim to complete editing your novel. That would be HUGE, just that alone. Most of us tend to list 72 hours of chores on our daily ‘to do’ list. I say, put fewer items on the list & you’ll feel better about yourself.

    If you DO work in a short story or two, then that’s pure gravy!

    But the MOST important thing is not to beat yourself up if you don’t get lots of writing done at this retreat. As you point out, you’ve never tried this before. The solitude & atmosphere might drive you nuts. It may not be a place where you feel at all creative, at least where writing is concerned.

    You could always try painting a landscape, though. Maybe that is what you’ll feel like doing! It’s all good.

    Be sure to enjoy yourself & the other artists there!

    L&K, MaryB

  2. Sounds like a great experience, Blair. Please keep us up to speed with further posts on life in the colony and the work that you’re doing.

    P.S. I’d still like to know what specific evidence you have for accusing V.S. Naipaul of misogyny.

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