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Writing Retreats – How to Get Away and Focus on Your Writing

by Tom Ashford

Sometimes you need to get away from it all. The noise, the routine, the pesky children who need feeding – sometimes you’ve just got to push all those distractions to the side and isolate yourself somewhere where you can sit down and just… write. Some authors like to check themselves into a hotel and not check back out until their manuscript is finished (Ernest Hemingway famously finished For Whom The Bell Tolls in the InterContinental New York Barclay, for example); others, like Roald Dahl, kept things a little more low-key. He escaped to a shed at the bottom of his garden.

Most of us wish we could go disappear somewhere to finish our book(s), and as luck would have it, we can! There are writing retreats all over the planet, from those which cost the same as hotel rooms to retreats designed to help release your creative energies. Here are a few of your options.

Home Away From Home

Let’s start off with a couple of lovely Devon (UK) retreats. In both of these countryside getaways, everyone has their own room (everyone being a writer, presumably), whether that’s in the fully-catered Country House or a “quirky, rustic two bedroom cottage,” which can be fully or self-catered.

If we presume that you don’t want to share a bathroom with any other writers, then these will cost you £350 for a large double ensuite for three nights, or £665 for six nights. By the looks of things, you get a serious discount if you’re willing to do your own cooking – it’s only £350 for a whole week.

Have a gander here: http://www.urbanwritersretreat.co.uk/a-residential-writing-retreat/

Unwind in a Beach Villa

A beach villa – doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Even better, over at the North Shore Beaches on Seaview’s Prince Edward Island (Canada), there’re two of them – one with three bedrooms, the other with four. If you’re looking for writing inspiration, the island has its own literary claim to fame in the shape of the children’s novel, ‘Anne of Green Gables’. Published in the early part of the 20th century, the book has sold 50 million copies to date and spawned a popular television series and movie. Very close to the villas you’ll find a museum dedicated to the story and its author, Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Abby Villas is hidden away in a private wood of pine, spruce and birch trees. Presuming you’re on a writing retreat and haven’t brought your family with you (though why not, eh?), you may not be that bothered about the adventure playground… but I’m sure the woodland trails and coastline will offer ample inspiration. And if you need a break from writing or walking, you can always check out the nearby golf course or vineyard, or the many fine restaurants nearby.

During the summer months (July and August) the villas are rented on a week-long basis, but you may find shorter stays elsewhere in the year. Their website doesn’t say any prices, but they do mention special rates when booking over the phone!

Take a look at their gorgeous properties here.

Europe – Ladies Only

Remember I mentioned the sort of writing retreats where you attend craft lessons, get feedback on your work, etc.? Here’s a particularly snazzy one… but only if you’re a writer of the female variety, unfortunately.

With the ‘A Writer Within’ package you get to spend a week in a fancy villa in Tuscany, Italy, with your own private chef no less! (Though you do have to share the chef with all the other writers.) According to The Write Life, your trip involves morning yoga or tai chi, group writing sessions with your host, Kathryn Kay, group outings to nearby towns and sites, and then, in the evening, the chance to share you work with the other writers over wine. Sounds more like a vacation than a place to sit down and work to me!

It might be too late to sign up for this year’s getaway, but tickets for next year are still open. Check it out here.

Escape to Marrakech

Unfortunately this last one has already sold out for 2019, but there’s always the chance they’ll hold it again next year. Just be prepared to empty your wallet for this Moroccan escape – it’ll cost you at least €2,000, plus flights.

Just check out this introduction though:

“This gathering is designed for writers and book lovers in search of communal solitude. For those inspired by narrative, place, and the prospect of stealing away to read or write. Retreat to stillness, reflection, and deep thought. Permit the distinct vibrations of Morocco to awaken new beginnings or clear the path for much needed resolutions. We welcome you to join us for a luxurious stay outside the hustle and bustle of the city.”

It sounds wonderful. It looks wonderful. At three full days (plus the day you arrive and the day you depart) you don’t get a lot of time for your money… but what you do get sounds very inspiring. And I’m sure you’d get the personal treatment the whole time you’re there – it’s only open to ten participants at a time.

See what you think here.

Tom Ashford

Tom Ashford

Tom Ashford is a professional copywriter, author of numerous dark fantasy and sci-fi novels, and the Head of Content at the Self Publishing Formula Blog. His books include the Blackwater trilogy and the Checking Out series.

He lives in London with his wife, in an apartment that doesn’t allow pets. Find out more about Tom here.