I learned a few things while living and working alone in Lunenburg, NS these past five weeks:

1. Five t-shirts, three sweaters, a raincoat, and three pairs of pants is all the clothing you need for five writing weeks. And hand-washing underwear/socks is pretty easy.

2. Quiet (inner and outer) is conducive and necessary to productive writing time (I suppose I already knew this).

Sigh ...
Sigh …

3. Laundromats are interesting places but it’s easier to do your laundry at home.

4. About-to-expire spinach, a can of chicken noodle soup, an onion and some curry powder = a delicious supper. And Chapman’s fudge sticks ($6 for a box of 18) provide excellent incentive to keep writing.

5. Strangers are more likely to talk to you when you’re alone, and even invite you to go for coffee.

6. The camaraderie among badminton players is the same at every club.

7. There is no better way to “find” your characters than walking the paths they may have walked 250 years ago.

8. It is possible, and hugely satisfying, to write 1,000+ words daily (not including the rewritten/deleted words) for 33 consecutive days.

9. Enjoying your own company is a necessary life skill (although writers are really never alone, thanks to the characters living in our brains and hearts).



and the opportunity to completely immerse myself in my characters’ world.

Have you ever had a chance to retreat from the world?


  1. mirkabreen

    Amen to all the above. I’m doing your #8 right now even as I am in my trusted regular writing chair with felines rather than strangers for company. How lovely that you get to walk the very path of your characters.

    1. Hope you’re doing well with your 1,000 words/day. I find setting writing goals works for me, but I don’t do it all the time. Having a bit of trouble getting back to my regular life, but five weeks is a long time to be away!

  2. Vijaya

    What a wonderful opportunity, Jan. I would love to have a writing retreat but I doubt we could manage more than a week right now with our busy family life. And once the children grow up and leave, I doubt I will crave the quiet as much as I do now. I am happy for the quiet while they are at school.

  3. I didn’t get serious about my writing until my kids were teenagers and busy with their own lives – I don’t know how people do it with younger children. The thing about retreating is that you have no responsibilities other than your writing – five weeks was probably a little long, and I was ready to come home (but, of course, I’m missing being so productive). Thanks for visiting!

    1. Hi, Claudine: Thanks for stopping by. Now that I’m home, I realize just how fruitful retreating can be! It’s so much harder to really get inside your story when there’s other life going on around you:) Hope you do get to retreat annually.

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