One of the definitions of retreat in the Oxford Dictionary is to withdraw to a quiet or secluded place. In order to write, I believe that we need to retreat on a regular basis, to find that stillness within where we can access our thoughts and express ourselves. I also think that being in this stillness also enables us to refresh and renew and face the noise and constant activity of the everyday world. This might not be true for everyone of course, but it is for me. I very much enjoy my own company and search out opportunities to retreat and listen.
Accessing this space can be difficult, especially if family and work claims your time and it can feel highly selfish to make demands for this type of space in the hecticness of life. If you believe that to retreat fully you have to be completely alone and in complete silence it is going to be virtually impossible unless you book yourself into a silent monastery for a week or two, but there are ways and means of finding this solitude without taking such drastic measures. The humble set of headphones linked to a phone in a coffee shop or park will give others the message that you are not available. It's up to you whether you're actually listening to anything! Perhaps, it's a favourite piece of music that washes over you as you write or perhaps the headphones are a foil to give you the solitude you seek. Or what about a walk in your local area? Is there somewhere you can walk close to nature and in peace? I am close to a canal and find that walking there first thing in the morning can be a tranquil experience apart from sharing a few good mornings with local dog walkers. There are also some benches along the pathway on which you can sit and jot down a few thoughts as they come and with technology advancing all the time, you can also dictate into your smart phone and then replay your thoughts when you're back in front of the laptop should you choose to do so. I think it's about looking around you and searching out opportunities to retreat, even when they don't necessarily seem readily available.
I've also read about writing retreats that sound idyllic to me. They always seem to be in a beautiful peaceful location, with some tutoring, feedback and the opportunity to be with other writers, but also with plenty of time to be away from others to focus on your work. I'd better start saving my pennies so that one day I can attend one of these. What bliss!
If you can't afford the writing retreat and are finding it hard to find a space in which to retreat, here's one simple website that might help - Meditation Oasis. The meditations on here are lovely and Mary Maddox's voice is very soothing, so if you want a tiny bit of space in an otherwise demanding day, check it out.
Have you found a way to retreat from the everyday challenges? Do you have a certain space that encourages you to be creative? Where do you retreat to? Please share. I'd love to hear your thoughts.