How to Plan a Writers’ Retreat

Ever thought about planning your very own Writers’ Retreat?

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I suspect most authors dream of a quiet cottage somewhere away from the day-to-day routine, somewhere to concentrate on getting that first draft finished, or that tricky edit done, a place conducive to writing with as few distractions as possible.

The ones you see advertised in writing magazines always look terrific, but are often expensive. Then there’s the uncomfortable feeling that you won’t know anyone. What if you have to share a room? What if there are people there that you just don’t gel with? What if not everyone is serious about getting on with writing and they see the week as an excuse to party?

So many reasons to never get around to indulging in the luxury of a writers’ retreat.

But what if you were the organiser? You, or your friends? Many of these doubts and worries would be alleviated. You could choose the location, the price, and the company. You could set the tone.

For the past few years, that is exactly what my writing friends and I have done.

So, how do we go about it?

Perhaps the first decision has to be who to go with. That was an easy one for us because we had already formed a small Writers’ Club, PenPals. We are friends who got to know one another through our love of writing, and, although there are some ten or so of us, nominally, there are three of us who meet regularly, so three of us who have gone away together the last few years. The first time, there were four of us, but we haven’t managed more than that at any one retreat. We have found three or four to work well, though I can imagine six or eight would still be manageable, if you found a large enough cottage.

The beauty of the smaller number is privacy.

When we went away in March, this year, the cottage was large enough that we could have a room each, great if someone snores! And great for being able to write without distraction.

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The second decision is where to go.

This is not difficult. There are always going to be a few deciding factors: price; availability, and suitability among the important ones.

Let’s deal with suitability first.

Suitability might include size. How many of you are committed to the venture? Are you willing to share two to a room? These factors will help determine the size of cottage you need.

Suitability might also include location. How far are you willing to travel? Is there an obvious halfway point between your various homes? Is there a pleasant area nearby, where there are holiday cottages for rent? Is the cottage somewhere suitably quiet? Renting one in a holiday park may not be conducive to quiet reflection and peaceful writing.

Next, you might consider price.

How much will your share of the rental, the petrol and the food be? How much are you each willing to pay? If you have a figure in mind, it might help you narrow down any options.

Obviously, the price will vary depending on the size of the cottage, but it will also vary depending on when you choose to go. Most holiday cottages are cheaper ‘off-season’ when the demand for them is lower.

Armed with information like that, you can then go on-line to look for your retreat.

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This last time, in March, we went a little further afield than usual, paid a little more than usual and had a bigger cottage. The main reason was because one of our members was writing a book set in that particular area and we wanted to support her in exploring it. We didn’t regret the decision to go there. It was a fabulous cottage in a stunning location, here in Scotland on a hill overlooking Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle.

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Okay! So let’s say you have chosen your company, your location, your price. You’ve booked your cottage and you’re ready to go.

What now?

How do you turn a few friends holidaying together in a cottage into a Writers’ Retreat?

In my next post, we will discuss what to do to get the maximum benefit from your inspirational break.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Yolanda Isabel Regueira Marin
    Apr 21, 2015 @ 05:40:57

    An interesting idea Christine … May have to implement it in Oz -)

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Samantha Bryant (@mirymom1)
    Apr 22, 2015 @ 02:17:09

    I’ve been on one GREAT writing retreat: A Week of Quiet and Writing for Women. I’ve gotten to go twice and was amazed both times at how a bunch of women I’d never met before could be so inspiring and supportive. A writing retreat can be such a gift!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. rebekkahn
    Apr 22, 2015 @ 13:59:35

    We got a great group of 14 people, and it actually worked really well, and was quite affordable at less than $100 each (67 GBP) even with gas. But the house was a gigantic off-season ski-lodge in the North Carolina mountains, actually made for around 25-30 people if all the rooms had been completely full, and it was only for one weekend. Although we had a great and very productive time, for a longer trip, I think a smaller place with fewer people would definitely be a more comfortable choice, even if it costs a bit more.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • cicampbell2013
      Apr 22, 2015 @ 18:04:28

      Sounds great, though, Rebekkahn. Do you think you’ll do something similar again…in a smaller place with fewer people?

      Like

      Reply

      • rebekkahn
        Apr 22, 2015 @ 19:29:39

        Probably nothing smaller anytime soon. A short, inexpensive, but crowded weekend is about perfect for now, since everyone enjoyed it, but most of us are small on the budget. Plus a lot of people does wonders for fostering brainstorming! One day, though… when I have a few more books published. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply

        • cicampbell2013
          Apr 23, 2015 @ 00:00:46

          Yes, the brainstorming is certainly one of the great benefits I found too.
          I think most writers find their budget a bit tight these days, eh? Even if moderately successful, there is not a lot of money to be made from writing. You have to do it for the love of it, I think.

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