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Why Attend a Writing School or Retreat?

I was doing a bit of thinking - my better half always wonders how much this will cost him - and it was to cost, or perhaps value that my attention wandered.

A well-known Scottish author recently announced that they had set up a business delivering online courses and writing retreats. I had a look, because I enjoy time amongst other writers, not having to explain my love of writing or desire to tell a good story.

To this end, I have attended writing classes at Bloody Scotland, which were helpful. Arvon writers' retreats which were invaluable, the sadly now defunct Winchester Writing Festival which inspired me and am a regular delegate at The Writers' Summer School which takes place in Swanwick, Derbyshire, each August as well as other writing retreats and events.

To attend a writers' retreat, conference or school is never cheap, for example The Writer's Summer School this year cost £655 for those who took advantage of the early bird discount. For me to be interested in such an event, it must offer value for money. There should be something that allows me to make my money back by improving my writing, learning from agents, publishers or more experienced authors and thus increasing my book sales or the quality of my work.

The events I choose to attend usually cost from a couple of hundreds to a few hundred pounds, but as I see writing as my career, and not a hobby, I am willing to make that kind of investment.

Imagine my surprise when this respected Scottish author, who has a trusted profile, announced they were setting up a business offering online courses and writing reteats, the cost of the latter running to several thousand pounds for a four night stay in a hotel in Scotland. Although at the time of writing the costs had been removed from social media and the 'sign and pay a deposit' button was not working on the relevant FaceBook page, I recall that the cost of this five day offering had three different price brackets: Bronze coming in at around £1300, Silver costing apprximatly £2500 and, if you want to spend even more money, the Gold option will set you back about £4,400 - that's over £1000 a night! I could find you a Caribbean Cruise for less!

So, as I was saying, I was doing a bit of thinking. I wondered how many extra books I would have to sell to get value for money from my Gold Writing Retreat subsciption. I thought about how many aspiring writers would be willing to pay this sum in the hope of being discovered by an agent, chatting to a publisher or finding inspiration to improve their work or sell more books. I considered how many inexperienced authors pay vanity publishers to print their books and wondered how far removed this offering is from those charletons.

I am so disappointed that a writer of this person's standing should use their influence and position to sell such an expensive event.

Then I had another think, I don't have to attend and neither does anybody else. I just hope that those who do find the retreat to be value for money.

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1 commentaire

Jo Fenton
Jo Fenton
26 juil. 2023

Interesting article. Personally I suspect I'd get better value from the cruise (in fact, I did, as Fabergé was inspired by a Baltic cruise in 2019!)

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