Finding the time to get down to writing in your everyday life can be difficult, When are you supposed to fit it in, between work, kids, exercise classes, and social events?
The idea of getting away from it all, and really knuckling down to some serious writing is extremely seductive. A retreat doesn’t have to be expensive if all you need is solitude. A cheap hotel room or cabin rental might suffice. But if you’re looking for inspiration – from beautiful surroundings, coaching from talented writing mentors, or the companionship of like-minded authors, then there are plenty of retreats to give you all that and more.
So here’s a selection to choose from – five in the UK, and five worldwide, at a range of prices.
Locations: Totleigh Barton in Devon, The Hurst in Shropshire and Lumb Bank in Yorkshire.
Details: Arvon runs various popular courses and retreats throughout the year at three different locations. Away from everyday distractions, these are special places where you can feel free to imagine, concentrate and write. Read a review of an Arvon retreat by CompletelyNovel’s Sarah Juckes here.
Cost: Around £750, see website for more details. Bursaries are also available.
Location: Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre is in the beautiful Scottish Highlands, 14 miles from the city of Inverness
Details: Various courses throughout the year, including a Walking Retreat in March. Accommodation is simple but comfortable and designed to provide an environment for nurturing your writing.
Cost: Courses from Monday (5pm) to Saturday (10am) including retreats with tuition are £595 for a single, and £540 for a shared room.
Untutored retreats: £300 single room or £350 for en-suite room (if available).
Location: Newton Abbot in Devon/One day retreats in London
Details: No workshops or classes are provided, just the time and space to actually write – with all food (and some wine) included. Rooms up to the end of March are fairly booked up already, but email via the website for Spring/Summer bookings. One-day London retreats in groups of 10-20 are also available for £45pp including lunch.
Dates: via the website for the latest dates available.
Cost: Three-day stays from £255, six-day stays from £460. London day retreats: £45pp including lunch.
Location: Llanystumdwy, Llŷn Peninsula, North Wales
Details: The beautiful house, Tŷ Newydd, Wales National Writing Centre, is a 16th-century, Grade 2 listed property and home of former prime minister David Lloyd George. There’s a mix of taught residential courses (weekend and week-long) as well as retreats without tutors, with the focus solely on writing. A particular emphasis on poetry is reflected in their Summer Poetry Masterclass in May, tutored by National Poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke and Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. However, the centre also has courses on many other aspects of writing, such as prose, memoir, writing for radio and television.
Cost: Prices vary, depending on the course, and the type of room, but roughly £495 – £625 per person for a week-long course.
Location: Sonogno, Switzerland
Details: “Finding Harmony through Writing, Yoga, & Music” is how this retreat is enticingly described.The day will include about 3 hours of daily yoga, 3 hours of writing, and music interwoven throughout the day and evening, as well as nature hikes into the mountainous landscape.
Date: 19th – 26th June 2016
Cost $1450 USD, although early bird rate is $1295 before March 30th. Includes 6 full days, 7 nights in a double room, meals from the evening of 19th June to the morning of 26th June transfer to and from train station, and workshops.
Location: Casa Ana, Andalucia, Spain
Date: 10th-16th September 2016
Details: This retreat from The Literary Consultancy (TLC) offers a chance to work, read, listen, learn and relax in a stunning setting which will open the mind and senses. The programme of classes is led by novelist and tutor Jacob Ross. Writing exercises and sessions are sandwiched between guest speakers, one-on-one tutorage and excursions.
Cost: From £795 per room, more details on the website.
Location: Tuscany, Italy
Dates: 28th August – 3rd September 2016
Details: Spend seven days and six nights of writing and nurturing your creative self in a farmhouse in the Chianti region of Italy. There is daily morning yoga, workshops and writing prompts.
Cost: The price of a bed in a shared room is $2150, with limited single rooms available with a supplement. The price includes all meals (and wine), workshop fees, private transportation between the farmhouse and Florence.
Location: Ossabaw Island, Savannah, Georgia (USA)
Date: 4th-9th March, and Autumn 2016
Details: Ossabaw Island has attracted writers, artists, and musicians to live on the island for short periods of reflection, research, and creativity in the mid-to-late 20th century. Ralph Ellison, Annie Dillard, and Alice Walker, are among those who have drawn inspiration from the island. The retreat is for six days and five nights of writing, workshops and one-on-manuscript consultations with nationally recognized authors. The deadline for applications to the spring retreat closed on 1 February, but due to popular demand, they have decided to organise another retreat in the Autumn 2016. Applications for the autumn retreat open in March.
Cost: $2400, including ferried transportation to the island, and special hotel rates for those who wish to visit Savannah before or after the Retreat.
Location: The Greek island of Skyros
Details:The Writer’s Lab offer week-long courses in locations from the Isle of Wight to Trinidad, on varying topics from June to September. There are courses on the Greek island of Skyros throughout July, and also in September. You’ll start every morning with yoga, attend a three-hour writing class and then enjoy all the island has to offer.
Cost: Prices start from £675, see website for more details.
Location: Liselund Castle, Denmark
Dates: 14th -20th August 2016
Details: A luxurious week-long writing retreat in the Danish countryside, mentored by writers Anja Klemp Vilgaard and Shawna Kenney. Beginners and experienced writers are welcome.
Cost: All-inclusive cost of room accommodations & 6 night/7-day retreat: $2,500 USD/DKK 17.164. Enrolment ends on 1st May, or when 17 participants are enrolled – whichever happens first. There will be a waiting list in case of cancellations.
And if, for whatever reason it’s just not possible to go on a retreat this year, then don’t despair. With perseverance, you can still write your masterpiece. Carving out time in your busy schedule can be difficult, but if you can set aside time to write regularly, you’ll get there in the end! Read 5 Things That Will Stop You From Writing Your Book And How To Avoid Them for some useful tips.