Need to get away from it all to finish a piece of writing? A writing retreat might be just the ticket. Here's our guide to the best of the bunch...
We all need to knuckle down and get on with a big piece of work sometimes, whether it’s finishing off that novel or writing up your dissertation. And it’s fatally easy to get distracted by daytime telly, emails or even just sorting out your sock drawer.
A writing retreat, with time and space to focus on your work, can sound like a dream solution. And if you need extra encouragement, many retreats include a teaching element with workshops and tutorials on offer.
The Arvon Foundation has built a solid reputation for its writing courses run from four historic houses – including ones once owned by Ted Hughes and John Osborne, in beautiful rural locations.
Straightforward retreats cost £475 a week full-board, but they also offer a host of specific courses at around £600, with group workshops in the mornings followed by private writing time and individual tutorials.
This autumn, Arvon will also be running shorter non-residential course in Birmingham, Plymouth and Durham, bringing rural retreats to the city. They will cost £250 but grants are available for these and their residential courses.
Bursaries are also available at Ty Newydd, the National Writer’s Centre in North Wales. Courses cost from £460 a week – tutors this year have included Patrick Gale and Carol Ann Duffy. Non tutored retreats are also available from £345.
The Fielding Programme on the west coast of Scotland is aimed at artists as well as writers, with professional studios available. Self catering accommodation in their distinctive “cubes” is available from £45 a night. Writer and poet Polly Clark also runs a series of retreats (£450 for one week) offering one-to-one mentoring during your stay.
If you have the budget to really get away from it all, Skyros Holidays runs writing retreats in Greece, specialising in script writing, novel writing or writing from life, costing from £845 for a 10 night stay. For a taster of the Skyros philosophy, there are similar weekend courses at their UK offshoot on the Isle of Wight for £90, with accommodation from £44 a night.
There are many smaller companies too, often run by professional writers. Journalist Deborah Dooley offers writing retreats at her North Devon home for £68 a night full board. Poet Christopher North runs a retreat centre in Alicante with courses costing around £700 a week and retreats for 30€ a night.
For a different approach, Urban Writers Retreat organises one-day retreats in London for £40. Here you get a quiet space with no internet distractions, just a bunch of like minded people to motivate you. You can also join one of their online retreats for £8.95 a month with scheduled writing sessions and online progress checks.
And of course, you can always create your own retreat. If you’re staying at home, you could apply for a reading ticket at a university library or offer to housesit for friends. You could even organise a group retreat with friends, hiring a whole youth hostel, renting a holiday cottage or just checking into a Travelodge in an unfamiliar part of town .
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Image: outdoors and connected by voodooangel, available under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.