Retreating to Write at a Writing Retreat

Bench at the Abbey
Find a bench and write. (Or, if it’s this cold, stay inside – but write!)

I’m home after a long weekend at a Facilitated Writing Retreat in Muenster, Saskatchewan.

Organized by the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, this retreat is for emerging writers and features a Writer-in-Residence to provide insights and editorial guidance.  (This fall, the WiR was Reg Silvester; last fall, Kelley Jo Burke; next fall, who knows? The call for applications for the SWG WiR will go out in Summer 2015, and I’m sure someone great will again be chosen.)

I was lucky to be there as the weekend
coordinator, to help with logistics and welcome participants to our Saskatchewan writing community. And yes, I did some writing, too. And I took many photographs.

I also encouraged my fellow writers to apply to the upcoming Winter (February) and Summer (July) Writers/Artists Retreats, which focus on independent work.  (No teaching or editorial guidance, just lots of time to create.)

Retreats are a wonderful opportunity to network with other visual and literary artists. They also enable participants to share in social events and informal discussions about writing, arts and what matters most in life. But most important, retreats provide a chance for writers and artists to benefit from the luxury of private time and space to produce creative work.

Our Writers and Artists Retreats in Saskatchewan have been held for — well, more than 30 years, as I remember once being told — and I’ve attended off and on for the past 12 years. During my time, I’ve met participants from this province and the rest of Canada, as well as from the U.S. And, in this time, I’ve written short stories and poems (many later published), and I’ve revised my poetry manuscript. (More on that another time…)

I’m sometimes asked: Why go to a Writers’ Retreat to write, if you can — and do — write at home? Here’s what I say:

  • At retreats, my time is my own. If I’m deep into writing, I don’t even have to talk to anyone. (Not that I’m really anti-social, but if you’re in another world, it can be challenging to talk to those not living in your fiction…)
  • At retreats, I don’t have to be alone. If I’m going stir-crazy, there’s always someone around in the evening who understands the frustrations and joys of writing.
  • At retreats, I write. Really. Actually. Write. A change of place can be slightly unsettling, and that’s good for creativity. (And I take photographs, too…. St. Peter’s Abbey, where the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild’s Writers/Artists Retreats are held, is rich with winter, summer and migratory birds, and spring, summer and fall wildflowers.)
  • Retreats are also a chance to connect — with myself, as a writer, and with a strong writing community.

So yes, I’m a fan.

To learn more about the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild Retreat Program, visit


Published by

Shelley Banks

Writer, editor, photographer.