Tag Archives: Selly Oak

A rather unusual writer’s retreat

27 Aug


I’m writing this on my last night at a ‘study centre’, a sort of place for quiet reflection and that type of thing.  The reason I’ve ended up in a little place in the Midlands (Selly Oak, to be precise) is because I’ve been shocked at how easily I can come up with excuses to do anything but write.  I figured if I could send myself away with nothing but my laptop then I’d have to write.  So I started searching for writers retreats but most of the ones I found were far too expensive for my budget.  Also, I figured, I didn’t want to spend time around other writers, I just wanted to be quiet and get on with my own things. To be honest, I would have been happy with an all-inclusive in a shed but unfortunately those don’t exist. Really it didn’t matter where I was or with whom I was around as long as the atmosphere was conducive to creativity. 

Now here comes the weird bit.  The place I’m staying at is a Quaker study centre which is a very strange concept considering I’m an Atheist.  Firstly, I didn’t even know Quakers still existed; the only thing I knew about them was from brief mentions in old History lessons.  Apparently the Quakers aren’t so great at self promotion…But when I was able to research the place further, I realised it was perfect for my requirements. There’s a library, a desk in my room (there, I’ve taken a little photo of it, just because), ten acres of beautiful woodland and breakfast, lunch and dinner so I don’t have to worry about what to eat etc.  And that usually is a big worry for me, sadly… 


But I have definitely managed to write a lot more although today (my last day here), I did suffer from some kind of writing burnout as my brain is not used to writing non-stop all day long.  It got to the point today where I would literally read over what I had written and genuinely not be able to tell whether it was OK or utter drivel.  I think three days away is a good time if you’re writing – any longer and I think my mind would have spontaneously combusted but perhaps it would be different if you just came out looking to meditate and gain a different perspective on things. 

I had concerns beforehand that I might slowly start scratching the walls but there are always people around so you never really feel like you’re completely alone.  In the canteen, I’ve met people I would never normally meet and had some really meaningful conversations.  Although it’s a ‘Quaker study centre’, the actual building is used to hold various conferences and it prides itself on being a good place for people to stay whether you are religious or not.  

The test will be when I go home and read over what I have written with a fresh mind… but I’ve definitely done something I wouldn’t normally do so I can tick ‘stay in a Quaker centre’ off my bucket list…