Often, when you hear "retreat" of any kind, you immediately think of how much it's going to cost you to participate. The beauty about a writing retreat is that they can be as fancy and expensive or budget friendly as you'd like. Now, it's easier than ever to plan a do-it-yourself writing retreat.
Savannah, GA is one of my favorite cities in the south, and sparks inspiration with every turn onto a new street corner. The city is rich in literary history and movie-making, the food is phenomenal and the coffee shops are perfect for cozying up and letting your imagination run free as you type your way to a higher word count.
How to Plan a DIY Writer's Retreat in Savannah, GA
Lodging. There are some amazing places to stay during your time in Savannah and can range from cheap to pricey. Sites like AirBnB and VRBO make renting apartments, condos or homes super easy and have prices for any budget. If you're looking for a hotel, B&B or quaint inn, Savannah has plenty of those to offer as well. The Ballastone Inn is one of the most beautiful and quaint lodging options. For a historic experience, look no further than The Marshall House—the rocking chairs along the porch may just be the most charming place to sit and write your heart out.
Work Schedule. On a writing retreat it's important to mix work with pleasure. Writing wasn't meant to be a ball and chain in our lives, so we shouldn't feel the need to lock ourselves in our rooms and lose our minds hammering out large word counts every day. If you're a morning person, get up early, walk to a nearby coffee shop and sit and enjoy your breakfast. Then, head back and write for a few hours before adventuring out around lunch time again—or if you're making headway on writing, stay in for lunch and then leave to adventure the streets of Savannah around mid-afternoon.
If you are a night owl, allow yourself a bit more rest in the mornings before heading out for brunch. Wander the streets and squares of the city, people watch at a cafe, roam river street and take in the views of the container ships and tub boats passing through. Then, head back to write by late afternoon and have food delivered or venture out again for a late night meal before burning the midnight oil on your manuscript.
Wander. Savannah is well-known for it's charming squares, Spanish moss, haunting cemeteries, river street views, deep history and southern culture. With twenty-two squares to meander through and Forsyth Park on top of that, there are plenty of green spaces within the city to sit for a spell on a park bench and jot down notes for your project or places within the city that sparked your interest. They are also great places to close your eyes and be still—allowing your mind to slow and your brain to relax. Between the squares you'll find history, shopping and dining at every turn. Book a trolley tour to get the full history of city and rest your feet for a bit or try a haunted ghost tour in the evening to investigate the dark side of the city.
Can't miss spots:
Eat. Seafood is at the forefront of dining in Savannah—as it should be. With proximity close to the water, Seafood comes in fresh daily. But seafood isn't your only option. Vinnie Van Go Go's is some of the best pizza you'll ever eat. You can dine at their restaurant on the corner of City Market or have it delivered to you in the historic district by bike. Either way, the "fall off the plate cause they are so big" slices are a must! You also can't go to Savannah and miss out on Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, but there are some tips you need to enjoy your meal. First, a line begins to form at least an hour before the dining room opens and it will literally wrap around the city block. The dining room is only open 11 a.m.–2 p.m., Monday-Friday. A hostess will come out and mark the line for the last group to have lunch each day. We've always been on that side of town by 9:30-ish to park and make our way over. Even at that, we've never been the first group in line. Tables are sat by number of people that fit there, not by group. So, if you are a party of six or less, expect to sit with strangers who will soon become new friends. Food is served family style and ranges from fried chicken, potatoes, greens of all sorts, bread and homemade desserts. At the end of the meal, each person clears their own place and pays (cash only) on the way out. The food is spectacular and the experience is one of a kind.
Other can't miss food spots:
The Pirate House
The Olde Pink House
Byrd Cookie Company
Leopold's Ice Cream
Back in the Day Bakery
Fiddler's Crab House
Coffee. What writer doesn't need a morning or afternoon pick-me-up in the form of coffee? There are so many great coffee cafes throughout the city, but some of my favorites include Foxy Loxy Cafe, Savannah Coffee Roasters, The Coffee Fox, The Collins Quarter and The Paris Market.
Zen. If you're an early riser, get out for an early morning run and have the historic district to yourself. Enjoy the cool breeze on your face, stop and take in the huge oak trees and squares. Running not your thing? Pick up and drop off a city bike wherever you'd like with CAT Bike. Try a class at Savannah Yoga Center if your posture is suffering from all those hours slumped over your laptop or book a massage at Spa Bleu or relax your face and tired eyes for a bit with one of their facials. No matter how you choose to decompress and zen out in the historic city, spending some time on yourself and letting the stresses of life and writing go for an hour or two will leave you feeling re-energized and ready to tackle your project with renewed zeal.