Creative Share – Joining a Retreat for Writers etc.

On a Creative Share organised by Scriblum, writers, academics, journalists, artists and composers are isolated when they need to be, yet in touch when they want.

The very good thing about sharing a creative retreat, apart from the affordability aspect, is both the solitude and rewarding company. Remember emerging from hours of solitary hard work, and yearning for just even a few moments in which to bounce an idea off someone? Or get some feedback on a particular theory or plot? The opportunity for this contact with other creative people – as and when the desire or need arises – forms the idea behind Scriblum’s Creative Share initiative. And as far as we can tell, Scriblum is very pleased to be the first to be working on this idea.

All those seriously engaged in creative work will immediately recognise the need for solitary work in isolation, as you can’t produce original work without it. Yet they’ll also have experienced that sense of yearning, desperation sometimes perhaps, for some kind of social contact. But not just any old contact one can find at a pub or dinner party, pleasant and rewarding though that may sometimes be. It’s contact with others who’ll gladly engage in discourse quite specific to what you’re doing, and won’t instead start making polite excuses to leave just after they’ve mistakenly asked you what you’re working on. That’s tough when it happens, because some kind of discourse relating to your work is essential if you’re to avoid being delighted by it for no reason other than you think it’s great; or, just as unforgivable (and usually more often the case), to be completely disenchanted by your creation, because it reads or looks terrible to that little internal editor and uncharitable critic, who’s continually looking over your shoulder and tut-tutting.

Maybe your work is entirely delightful, or maybe it’s completely disenchanting. Or perhaps it’s somewhere in between. But short of actually publishing or exhibiting it, in the absence of dialogue with others it’s nearly impossible to tell. To produce a work that will reach publication or exhibition requires not so much the judgement of others, but the exchange of ideas, the testing of theories and plots, and the gathering of new information and techniques. All this should be part of a natural dialogue surrounding both your own work and that of others.

In short, you need to engage in creative feedback and reconnaissance, and not simply sit there creating in the solitude of a back bedroom or attic, to then either fall in love with or loath your creations. Inventors are a particularly poignant example in this regard, and many have been laughed at and scorned simply because they wished to further develop – by way of propounding their great idea – a revolutionary potato peeler or toilet flush (having of course patented it first). The world is poorer for it no doubt, but one cannot blame those not creatively engaged scurrying at the mere mention of “my new ball cock design”, and “guess what this is?” before whipping out a potato for a demonstration. Though if only people would think about it, such situations would make for fascinating listening.

Understandably, it’s usually only creative people themselves who can provide such succour. And so, to share accommodation with other writers, yet retain the option of retreating into solitude whenever those demons start clamouring, is a very good idea.

For those contemplating a week or two spent on a Scriblum creative share, just note that these are not to be confused with writing courses and workshops. There is no tutor or group leader, and indeed no “group” as such. Effectively your presence is among others getting along with their work just as you are, who when the mood takes them, will chat or dine or take a walk with whomever happens to want to do the same.

Are you a Procrastinator?
If you are a procrastinator however, a creative retreat is probably not for you. Instead you’d be better off at the Diogenes “hardship” writer’s shack in Italy, or something equally ill equipped with either distraction or comfort. If this is the case, perhaps have a look at some of the (often austere) retreats famous writers have secluded themselves in.

For a list of Scriblum’s shared retreats taking place in 2014 visit our page on Creative Share Retreats for Writers and Artists.

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