The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Beech Mountain writer's retreat

View from Beech Mountain

There are as many kinds of writers' retreats as there are writers, and when I started researching I considered just about every option. But, in the end, I decided to keep it simple --- find a hotel room within two hours' drive that's close to some natural area I want to explore. Beech Mountain, North Carolina, topped the list both literally and metaphorically. After all, the highest incorporated town east of the Mississippi is so cool in the summer  months that no one even installs air conditioning. What's not to like?

Pinnacle Inn resort

My condo at Pinnacle Inn was quiet and tranquil...although my rural-accustomed eyes would have preferred the streetlights to be quenched at night. Other than that, though, the location was quite a treat, and I split my days between pounding out chapters about werewolves and hiking stunning trails (the latter of which I'll tell you more about in tomorrow's post).

Beech Mountain folk art

In the online circles I frequent, I'm a bit of a slow writer, publishing only four novels per year. And up on the mountain, I realized that if I changed my daily routine, I could easily double or triple that output. It's just so easy to write when nothing distracts you from the fictional world you're spinning within your own mind, when a hike in the middle of the day helps plot threads weave more closely together and when there are no husbands or animals or gardens to feed and enjoy.

Pinnacle Inn

On the other hand, I missed my husband and animals and gardens like the dickens, and the very best moment of the retreat was when I hiked back into our farm to greet Mark with a hug. I'm pretty sure I'll line up more writers' retreats in the future, both for the productivity boost and for the mental clarity that comes from four-mile hikes combined with 4,000-word days. But I wouldn't want to live there --- I prefer to merely visit.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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