Top 10 Writing Retreats

In honor of the very first writing retreat I’ve attended (and organized – what?!), I’ve decided to share a list of some of the coolest writing retreats I’ve ever seen on the internet. These are the retreats I totally wish I were attending, rather than returning to my average, normal working life after a nice long weekend (again, one of the first times I’ve had a chance to actually relax over a holiday weekend – what?! x2).

Some of these may also be the most unaffordable writing retreats I’ve ever seen, but hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

Top 10 Writing Retreats in Exotic Locations That Are Sure to Inspire Pages Upon Pages of Creative Output

10 – Salt Cay Writers Retreat

One of my writer pals actually won a scholarship to this sultry writing retreat in the Bahamas, so I am totally jealous. But this is probably the most exotic retreat in the western hemisphere that also has a literary heritage: according to their website, “William Styron put the finishing touches on Sophie’s Choice while vacationing on Salt Cay, Bahamas.” Indeed, this retreat is actually held on a private island about a mile off Nassau, which is about as straight-up sexy as you can get, don’t you think?

9 – Write A Bestseller Retreat

My Australian writer pal, Diane Lee, attended this writing retreat and gave it high praise. So if I can ever get together enough cash to fly to the eastern hemisphere, I am definitely going to attend this writing retreat in Bali, which combines outdoor activity (what a novel concept!) with writing and editing. Love it!

8 – Summer Literary Seminars

The Russian writing retreat is what first intrigued me about Summer Literary Seminars. These summer escapes are run by a former writing professor of mine, Mikhail Iossel, who is a Russian expat living in Canada. But they’ve also added writing retreats to Kenya, Lithuania and even Montreal, which are unique additions to the usual suspects in France, Italy or the like. In addition, this is one of the only retreats I’ve heard of that runs an annual writing contest for scholarships to attend, so there’s no reason not to go for it.

7 – Hawthornden Castle

This writing retreat, ensconced in a genuine castle in Scotland, is too legit to quit. And if you don’t believe me, check out author Vanessa Gebbie’s blog about her month-long stay there. The fact that there are THREE libraries at this place is reason enough to want to retreat there, don’t you think?

6 – Iceland Writers Retreat

I don’t know about you, but I happen to love the ice and snow. Maybe it’s all that time I spent living in Montreal, which I romanticize as an extremely productive writing period in my life? And, given the news that we’ve actually passed the tipping point for turning back global warming, I suspect that ice and snow are going to become a lot more rare as the years go by. So the thought of a writing retreat in Iceland definitely has its charms. Still not convinced? Read writer Megan Ross’s account of her time on retreat, and you’ll be sold.

5 – Italy In Others Words

If you don’t automatically want to take a writer’s retreat in Italy, I’m not quite sure what’s wrong with you. What’s not to love? Ancient culture. Modern amenities. Beautiful surroundings, and a beautiful romance language. ITALY!

4 – Banff Self-Directed Writing Residency

Is there anything cooler than a writing residency? Doubtful. But a self-directed writing residency in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada is pretty damn cool – particularly during the winter months!

3 – Moroccan Caravan

If you want an adventure, this Moroccan Caravan writing retreat from Writer’s Journey is just one of many. Explore the desert, meditate and write. Where else can you be truly alone but in the middle of a sea of shifting sand?

2 – Paris Writers Retreat

Paris? Writing? Yes, please! I don’t even care who’s running this retreat, or what it actually offers… I just want to be in Paris, writing. ANYWHERE.

1 – Writing Between the Vines

Featuring a variety of retreat options in California wine country, this is one of my ideal retreats in my own backyard. Okay, so I don’t technically live in wine country, but at least I live in the same state, which means travel to my retreat would be relatively reasonable – unlike, say, airfare to Bali. Plus I just love the thought of writing in a vineyard, and sharing a drink and evening meal with the owners of the property, getting a chance to learn more about how grapes are harvested and turned into that succulent drink I enjoy every evening. Who wouldn’t want to retreat to a vineyard? I’d even chip in some work-study for the chance to stay at such a picturesque location, wouldn’t you?

Where would YOU like to hold a writing retreat, assuming money were no object?