Oh, the pressure on writers to write correctly! Writers often agonize over writing problems that ‘non-writers’ don’t worry about.
One of the big ‘problems’ is whether it is right to write writers’ retreat or writer’s retreat! Where do you put that pesky possessive apostrophe? Is the retreat for one writer or many?
As a writing instructor, I am often asked questions like this – and my solution is to be aware of and avoid the problem. Even if you are technically correct – some of your readers may think you are wrong. I’ll explain soon – after I show the confusion.
You can see from these examples there are many different uses – writers'(plural) is for a retreat for many writers – maybe all together as a group or many several writers visiting the retreat at different at times!
Writer’s retreat may be more accurate for where one, solitary writer wants to be ALONE to write.
I’m often asked how to write expressions such as driver’s licence. Or should that be drivers’ licence? Sure, each driver should have their own driver’s licence – but many drivers get a drivers’ licence, so shouldn’t it be drivers’ licence written on the licence? (For non-British English writers – licenCE is the British English way of writing licenSe.)
Anyway, back to writer’s or writers’ and driver’s or drivers’!
When I advise organisations on how to solve various writing problems – I encourage them to simply avoid the problem – and a simple way to avoid this writer’s/writers’ problem is to get rid of that S!By getting rid of the S you don’t run the risk of putting the apostrophe in the wrong place.
I suggest they use the ING form of a word – and call it a DrivING licence.
In the case of Writer’s/Writers’ retreats or even Writer’s/Writers’Centres you can call it a Writing Retreat.
As a writing consultant to Sirenia Retreat – I’ll be suggesting they change Writer’s Retreat to Writing Retreat. That way it can be a retreat for a group of writers or just one writer.
I’ll have more in part 2 – about how writers solved the problem with Mother’s/Mothers’ Day – and another way to avoid the pesky possessive apostrophe problem.