If you have never tried it, the short-term (s*ht gets done) and long-term (you can 30,000-foot perspective on how you spend your time and what you’re really doing with your travel writing) benefits of taking an individual writer’s retreat are addicting.
At a conference recently, I heard author, restaurateur and actor Madhur Jaffrey explaining that she doesn’t know how her recent book would have gotten done if she hadn’t spent a week more or less in bed surrounded by papers working and sleeping in equal fits, problems immersed in the text of her project.
But even if you’re not working on something on the scale of a book currently, a residency can also guide you to what it is you should be investing your time in more deeply, as this peek at the famed MacDowell residency explores:
Before traveling to the Colony it is important to be clear in your mind about what you intend to accomplish and, once here, to be open to creative detours that could fold back into the current work, or form the seeds for a future project.
There is no single pattern describing the best use of time in residence: MacDowell is a great place to start a project that’s been gestating internally for a long time, and it’s also a great place to drive to the finish line with a project past the midpoint.
The culture at MacDowell encourages long days working with passion on the project at hand, while also offering new ideas that might feed into your work. The best way to get the most of the residency is to find your own personal balance between hunkering down to work and drinking in fresh ideas like a sponge.
There are many problems with residencies like MacDowell for the majority of us though:
- They require a serious time commitment. One month is typically the minimum.
- They are application only and typically harder to get into than a Harvard grad program.
- The application itself requires things like an artist statement and references that in-and-of-themselves require going away by yourself for some time on a personal residency to figure out!
For travel writers, however, one of the biggest impediments to taking a week to squirrel away somewhere and get fantastic amounts of game-changing work done really is the siren’s call of all of the things to do in the area, walks to take through the village, and adorable, authentic restaurants beckoning with candlelit tables on twee balconies.
That’s why, when we saw the six-bedroom property we now use for our weekend- and week-long travel writing retreats, we knew it was just the place for travel writers to take that crucial individual residency time, because:
- the things to do in the area, while fantastic–think unique-in-the-world hikes, some of the best pizza anywhere in New York state at an Italian-owned cidery, world-art-scene game-changing art institutions, and a brewery where you can see the hops and rye that made its way into your glass from the tasting room windows–are just far enough that you can’t just wander out for a coffee, be distracted, and wonder how your day has been lost traveling rather than travel writing;
- the house itself is big enough (we actually have a built-in 1000+-square-foot pub and sauna) that you can move to a different writing location or give yourself a break on the property without completely losing the thread to distraction;
- you can arrive there with public transportation from any New York airport or train or bus station–a.k.a. the perfect opportunity to enjoy the country without the annoyance of a rental car; and
- the grounds have enough space that we can grow food so residents can eat healthy, farm-to-table cuisine on-site without their writing time being interrupted trying to figure out what to eat and where to get it from.
To amplify the ambiance, we’ve kitted the house out with dozens of unique writing spaces and filled the library with inspiring magazines and books so you can take a productive break that fuels your creative energy rather than sapping it whenever you need.
We now have dates available for summer and fall residencies on:
- Sunday, August 5, 2018 – Saturday, August 11, 2018
- Sunday, September 2, 2018 – Saturday, September 8, 2018
- Sunday, September 9, 2018 – Saturday, September 15, 2018
- Sunday, September 16, 2018 – Saturday, September 22, 2018
- Sunday, September 23, 2018 – Saturday, September 29, 2018
- Sunday, October 7, 2018 – Saturday, October 13, 2018
p.s. Wondering about the price? You need to get yourself to the site, but then your stay is just $150 for the week, and you can opt to have all of your meals included for another $100.
So, $250 for the entire week all-inclusive. OR $150 if you want to take care of your own food! Apply here if that sounds like just what you need.