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Writing Getaway | One Writer’s Creative Solitude

A writing getaway helps me stay focused.

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When I’m trying to plow through a rough draft or gain the concentration necessary to finish a novel, I organize a writing getaway. Time away is especially valuable when I’m doing my final edits and don’t want distractions.

You know the kind of distractions I mean. People hoping you’ll put a meal on the table. Laundry in the dryer. Weeds in the garden. Bills to be paid. All of these have an insidious way of eroding concentration.

When a writer is deep in revising a novel, she or he must hold the entire novel in her head. What happens early on lays the groundwork for what lies ahead.

writing getaway for man on beach

When I’m on a writing retreat, I’m like this guy: eyes closed, listening to the waves, not even bothering to stare out at the horizon

A Writing Getaway Is Not A Vacation

Though you might go to a vacation destination for a writing getaway, you don’t go with a vacation mindset. When I’m on vacation I want to go to the beach and snorkle. I spend time with my family and try to be “fully present,” not pretending to have a conversation, all the while fully engaged with the characters in my head.

Yes, I could apply to a writing residency; however, applying for those requires lead time, and a writer must send a manuscript for a committee to approve. That’s extra work. I’ve done residencies and benefited a lot. Sometimes, though, I’m okay with organizing my own “writing getaway” and just hanging with the people in my book.

Timeshares Make Great Getaways

My husband and I have a timeshare, and as part of that ownership package, we became members of Interval, a timeshare exchange network. The other big exchange is RCI. I use my normal timeshare week for travel with my husband or kids, but if I’m planning a getaway, I grab one the exchanges’ last-minute deals. Usually, I can find an apartment for $250 to $300 per week. If I’m trying to revise or finish a book, I like having a kitchen. Preparing a simple meal gives me a reason to get up and stretch.

National Parks Are a Great Getaway Destination

Because I live part of the year in Arizona, I’m close to the Grand Canyon and to the many state parks where I can rent a cabin. I usually go alone when I organize one of these getaways, writing during the day and editing in the evening. But I also take a daily walk, and being able to do that in a National Park is just the best. In the event you’re thinking you might like to visit a National Park, even without the excuse of needing to finish a book, here’s an article to give you ideas.

writing getaway destination

Cabins make great getaway destinations. This one is in Island Park, Idaho. Photo by Cara Fuller via

What a Writer Brings on a Getaway

When I plan a getaway, I bring my own ergonomically comfortable work-space. I’ve never found a hotel room with a desk at a comfortable typing height, nor can I depend on a hotel chair. Most of them kill my back. If I’m going away to write, here’s what I bring:

  • A camp chair
  • A portable desk
  • Hiking boots
  • A portable printer
  • Post-its
  • And a laptop

The specific desk I bring is a Tabletote with a little upright wand to hold manuscript pages.

I’ve tried out many different camp chairs, including camp chairs from REI and camp chairs that are fine for car camping. However, most collapsible chairs are flimsy. If I’m sitting for three or four hours at a time, I want a chair that gives me good back and arm support. I found a Director’s Chair at Cabela’s that I like a lot.

As for a printer, I own a CANON BJC-85 printer. It weighs less than two pounds. Canon’s not making them anymore, but you can find them used. They’re a lot less expensive–and lighter weight–than other portables. You can buy them used on eBay or Amazon for under $50. I refill the ink cartridges myself, using an ink refill kit.

An equally good bet would be CANON PIXMA iP110 Wireless Mobile Printer. It’ll run you about $160, but that’s pretty reasonable, considering the quality of its printing.

Carrying the Office

My friends often ask if this is too heavy to carry. With a strap over one shoulder, I can easily carry the chair, which is surprisingly lightweight. In my other hand I drag a small roller bag containing my laptop, printer, cartridges, and desk.

Here’s what the “office” looks like bungee-corded together. (The bag under the blue water bottle contains my walking sticks.) As for clothes, I bring two pairs of jeans, three tee-shirts, and a windbreaker. Notice the purple boots?

writing getaway toolkit

Here’s my Director’s chair, hiking boots, and walking sticks, all held together and ready to go off and finish my novel.

Do you secretly want to write a book, or have you been trying to write one, but not making any progress?

Does the idea of a getaway appeal to you?

What would be the ideal place to get some writing done? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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