There are a couple of websites that advertise artists’ retreats (http://www.resartis.org/en/ and http://www.resartis.org/en/). Some retreats are funded (but very competitive) and some are rather expensive and luxurious. As a jobbing writer I can’t afford these paid retreats. But I’ve been awarded one funded retreat and one subsidized retreat – both in Scotland, which seems particularly supportive of writers.
There is something about being shut in a room, knowing that other writers or artists are busy working on the other side of the walls, that's conducive to creativity. And at home, there are so many other distractions: the laundry, cooking, emails, the post. Other people tend to think that because you work at home you’re always available, but at a writing retreat it feels there's an obligation to work - or at least to restore your creative juices.
The other retreat I attended recently was at Cove Park. This is a modern, purpose-built complex with a beautiful arts centre perched above a loch. Small ‘cubes’ or studios house a single writer or artist.
I spent ten days in my cube, slowing right down. It reminded me how restorative nature is, and I sat on the deck with my morning coffee, watching rain falling on the pond, wondering why on earth I don’t do this sort of thing more often at home. I was also productive, and spent a lot of time pondering a project that had been suspended just out of reach for a long time. By the time I left Cove Park I had a plot arc, could visualize my characters, and had written a dozen rough scenes.
Heather Dyer, Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow