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Getting Away From it all!

November 27th, 2013

A recent blog post mentioned the chance to get away from it all for a few days at the wonderful Gladstone Library. That got me thinking about what the benefits are, if any, of more formal writing retreats. You know the ones I mean – you go for a week to a secluded converted farmhouse or whatever and mix with other budding writers looking for inspiration and feedback on their writing from the other retreat members and often from tutors as well. I want to know if they are worth it?

It seems the answer to that question is rather more difficult than it at first seems. Honestly, until today, before I started researching them, I’d have said writing retreats were a great idea. I mean, what could be better than gathering together with a host of people all doing the same thing as you?

Well, some would say staying at home working by yourself would be a much better idea, and cheaper too! But why? It seems that what some retreat organisers think is conducive to working is, in fact, the opposite. For example, in this article Writing retreats – a waste of time Max Dunbar examines the way retreats work and what exactly the benefits are supposed to be. In it he looks at retreats supplied by the Arvon Foundation, a well known writing organisation in the UK. First off, the retreat is not cheap – it’s £500 for four and a half days on retreat with tuition from published writers.

Sounds great, until you realise that the price does not guarantee you a single room or internet services! Now it doesn’t seem so great, as having access to the internet and a place to go for peace and quiet do appear to be very important for most writers. In fact, the reason for many writers wanting to go on retreat in the first place is so that they can get some peace and quiet. In your own home, with your family, you can ask them to leave you alone or be quiet while you’re trying to work. Not sure how comfortable I’d be doing that to a complete stranger, how about you?

Anyway, if you fancy finding out more about why Max thinks retreats are a waste of money read his article and make up your own mind!


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About The Author: Diana Nadin

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