General book stuff

A writing retreat with a difference

Time is the enemy of the writer. That’s what I’ve learned in the few years I’ve been running Book and Brew. Every writer that I’ve met, every author I’ve listened to has one thing in common: a battle with time. Whether it’s starting a book or finalising a manuscript, writers need time to write.

When I was a blogger at last year’s Berwick Literary Festival, it surprised me how many writers admitted they have to remove themselves from their own lives in order to write. Some paid for that time through a dedicated writers’ retreat, others fell on the mercy of friends who had empty properties while some even booked solitary hours in hotel rooms to focus on their work.

Inspirational isolation

Nell Stevens’ new book Bleaker House takes this literary isolation to the extreme. Nell used funding from a creative writing MA to support a three-month trip to the Falkland Islands where she would, in just 12 weeks, write and edit the first draft of her book. Bleaker House charts the inevitable failure of this ambitious plan while lamenting on the loneliness of the writing profession.

So, how do you get the balance right? How can you find quiet time to write without becoming Jack Torrance from The Shining?

The answer, or at least one option, is a one-day writing retreat.

Vic Watson, of Elementary Writers, runs regular retreats to provide writers with the space they need to think, write, edit or collaborate. “All too often, the distractions of modern life get in the way of our creativity”, Vic said. “I run retreats in unusual places that offer writers the solitude they crave and the inspiration to kick start their thoughts.”

To the lighthouse

And, Vic’s next retreat is certainly in an inspirational spot. On Sunday 20 August, writers can spend the day at St Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitley Bay. They will be stranded on the island for the six hours the causeway is covered; having no choice but to get on with their work.

St Mary's Lighthouse
The dog isn’t included in the retreat. Shame. (Pic credit: Emma Seed)

“We have the essentials available – tea and coffee – but this location is perfect for focusing writers’ minds. Participants can wander around the island, spend time writing indoors looking out on the brutal beauty of the North Sea, or engage in some writing prompts and critique from me”, Vic told me.

“It’s open to writers of all genres and experience”, she said. “All you have to do is write!”

Isolation. Solitude. Nature. No way out. Those sound like the perfect ingredients for a writing retreat that gets results.

If you’re interested in taking part in the retreat here are the details:

Date: Sunday 20 August
Time: 12:30pm to 6pm
Costs: £30. In order to secure your place, a 50% non-refundable deposit of £15 is required.
Book: Please email to book. (Space is limited so be quick!)

Have you written in more unusual places than a lighthouse? Let me know in the comments below.

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