For years, I've been whispering into my own ear: "Go on a retreat." Several of my more intuitive and spiritual friends plan them routinely, sometimes more than a few times a year, to get out of their heads. Frankly, for me, making time to make time is a little like digging in sand.
I bump into myself regularly trying to commit to stretches of only writing. When brilliant flashes of freedom tempt me, it doesn't take long until I'm cleaving to door jambs, afraid to leave the chores undone and the cats to their own devices. But streaks of creativity don't just spontaneously happen. You plan them; or, you practice them. Otherwise, you just aren't productive.
The added bonus of going away from home is finding inspiration. I went away for a few days recently and, even though my wordcount was low, the rejuvenation factor was high. The trip reminded me of the importance of making room for headspace, because writing is a head thing. Even if speech-to-text becomes more universal, thinking is an essential ingredient to crafting a story. Thinking without a cluttered mind and surroundings (bills, dust bunnies, laundry) can be priceless.
Let me show you where I went. And, I'll be upfront that the hosts of the Inn on Mill Creek in Old Fort, NC, generously gifted this trip. I'm sincerely grateful for their hospitality. It's fitting that the materials promoting the Inn include quotes from writers—Jane Austen, John Muir, Robert Frost—because this place is suited for solitude and contemplation. The number of places on the property where peace and quiet are available is much longer than my favorites list.
Best Spots at Inn on Mill Creek for Writers
#1 The desk in the shared TV room of the Deck House. I was lucky enough not to have to share the TV room with anyone because of renovations. But, you can see why this hovel screams WRITE! Apparently, I'm not the first writer to think this spot is the bee's knees. It overlooks a water feature.
#2 The deck off of my bedroom. Brigette Walters, who's an innskeeper, told us that the adjacent lake and wetlands sound like a meditation app. No kidding.
#3 The boardwalk. This marvelous area emerged recently from the handiwork of Brigette's husband and co-innskeeper, Dave. Dave's a retired engineer who decided in late 2019 to build a floating boardwalk over a wetland area on their seven private acres. He finished it in about five months, constructing 10 feet at a time. It's an amazing addition to the grounds, and I didn't spend nearly enough time on it. I'm going back when he adds the bell, hand-crafted from an old fuel tank. BTW, the seats in the magnolia tree are placed in the exact spot where Dave got the inspiration to build the boardwalk in the first place. Dave, you're cool!
#4 Brigette's gardens. Brigette loves plants and birds and people. She even recognizes a few of the squirrels, who she admonishes when they visit the birdfeeders in the garden near the breakfast solarium. It's okay, Brigette. We'll wait for the hummingbirds.
This place makes a writer wanna go Thoreau: just slip into the woods and not come back. Maybe next time, I won't.