So the week before last I was really struggling to get into edits on a book I’ve been working on for a while (since 2015 if you really want to know, don’t cry, it’s fine) and my lovely wife suggested I go away for the week to get stuck in. That very morning, I’d had an email newsletter from Moniack Mhor, a retreat centre near Inverness, saying there was a last minute space on their self-guided retreat the next week. So I dived in and booked it and away I went.
It genuinely couldn’t have been a more perfect place to work on this project. We drove up into dense fog as we were arriving, which gave me an idea for how I could make a key scene a lot more spooky! Our taxi was also watched by a deer, a pony and a calico cat as we passed, who inspired some minor characters.
It was such a peaceful place, and a very inspiring environment. I went for some good walks/runs, but mostly I just wrote from when I woke up until the evening (or earlier if my brain was fried). I was a bit worried about cooking, although we each only cooked one evening of the week, but I actually loved doing all the food prep with my team and taking my mind off work for a couple of hours!
The main thing that was different for me, being there, was that I didn’t really look at my emails until the end of the day, and it was so much easier to make progress that way. I am definitely trying to take this into my work at home from now on.
I worked a lot from my coorie room but there was really no beating the hobbit house, a strawbale roundhouse with amazing views.
There were only a dozen of us staying there and everyone was working on something totally different. It was great to be able to speak to people about their writing and then to hear them read from their work on the last night. We were also so well looked after by Ellen, Kit, Isobel and the rest of the lovely people who keep Moniack running.
I have never been on an official writers’ retreat before, but it was such a great way to focus on a project, I definitely hope to return to Moniack again one day!