A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of visiting the Florida Keys and spent a day in Key West. Along with a lunch at a fun restaurant called Blue Heaven (A great bartender named Joe makes a fabulous mojito, and chickens and roosters roam among the outdoor tables),I also took the tour of the Hemingway House. The estate is much the same as it was when he resided there and wrote many of his most memorable novels.
The heat was oppressive, thanks to his second wife having replaced all the house ceiling fans with chandeliers. Yet, his writing studio was an oasis that he entered faithfully each morning to begin his work. The manual typewriter still sits on the desk, books line the shelves and a chaise lounge rests against a shady window for those moments when a writer needs to figure out where to go next. It is a beautiful space filled with the things Hemingway wanted and loved. A sanctuary free from intrusion.
Did all that great writing occur because of the place he wrote in? Would he have written as well in a crowded coffee shop or at Sloppy Joe’s Bar? Hemingway visited the bar often and observed the men who came and went each evening. Then he wrote about what he saw the next morning.
My point is this: I know Hemingway did not need a fancy retreat to write Nobel Prize winning literature. Neither do we. But we do need a place where we feel inspired and our mind can roam free to explore the secrets we didn’t know we were hiding. Find your oasis, whether it be a bar, a den, your back porch or the beach. We each know where that place is. For me it is NOT in front of the computer. For me, it is somewhere out in the natural world where a pen and fresh pad of paper are all I need to discover the secrets locked within.
The next time you face writer’s block or just need inspiration, go to your retreat and let the magic begin.