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Find inspiration and motivation at Scotland's creative writing retreats

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From home-grown talents such as Robert Burns and Muriel Spark to global bestsellers including Shakespeare, Hergé and J. K. Rowling, Scotland has inspired generations of writers. For aspiring authors keen to join their ranks, a writing retreat in Scotland will give you just what you need to get your stories onto paper: time, peace and quiet, and lots of inspiration.

Earlier this year I spent a fantastic week at Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre, with a great group of people from Scotland, England, Wales and India. It’s housed in cosy rustic cottages in a remote corner of the Highlands, offering stunning views and a warm, relaxing atmosphere – the perfect environment to unwind and get writing. The workshops (led by authors Tom Pow and Diana Hendry) were brilliant, and there was plenty of time in between to go for woodland walks, cycle down to nearby Loch Ness, eat lots of cake and of course, scribble down ideas.

Photo: Nancy MacDonald

As well as time to write and few distractions, Moniack Mhor’s excellent courses give writers a rare chance to get feedback from some of the UK’s most renowned poets and authors. Liz Lochhead and Mairi Hedderwick are amongst the big names set to lead courses at the centre in 2015, while Anne Fine and A L Kennedy will be making guest appearances. Check the centre’s website or sign up to their mailing list for full details of courses and dates.

You’ll find several other writing retreats taking place across Scotland throughout the year. Just a few hours further north of Moniack, the Assynt Foundation hosts writing retreats in the beautiful Glencanisp Lodge in Lochinver. Get the New Year off to a productive start with a winter retreat from 4 – 9 January, or join them in early summer for a week of writing, walking and relaxing in gorgeous surroundings from 31 May – 5 June.

From 2 – 7 September, author Angela Locke will be holding a writing retreat based in the Argyll Hotel on Iona. This peaceful island is home to historic ruins and a population of fewer than 180 people, making it the perfect place to immerse yourself in writing, soak up the inspirational setting and share ideas with other aspiring authors.

Look out for other creative courses in areas such as Orkney, a region that has inspired writers and artists for centuries. Newquoy Guest House & Writers’ Retreat runs specialist courses throughout the summer months, while Orkney Attractions and Creative Escapes Orkney offer a range of courses on subjects including storytelling and keeping creative journals.

Photo: Nancy MacDonald

Alternatively, if you’re simply looking for peace, quiet and time to get your words onto paper, self-catering accommodation in a remote cottage could be just what you need. Escape to a quiet corner of the Outer Hebrides, head to the coast of Ayrshire & Arran, or spend a week in a fishing village on the East Neuk of Fife. You’ll find a great range of cosy cottages and comfortable lodges for your creative getaway in our accommodation listings.

For writers who work better in the hustle and bustle of the city, try a summer course at one of Scotland’s universities. Edinburgh University has a great summer programme of non-residential courses for adults on topics such screenwriting, storytelling and narration in fiction. These are a great way to get creative on holiday, and you’ll still have plenty of time to explore the city between classes! Be sure to check out the Writers’ Museum or the Scottish Poetry Library for inspiration.

Keep an eye out for one-off classes and workshops at book festivals around Scotland throughout 2015. If you can’t wait that long to get started, you’re sure to find something to keep you busy during Book Week Scotland. Taking place across the country from 24 – 30 November, it features a huge number of events including writing workshops and pitching sessions where you can get feedback from industry professionals.

Find out more about Scottish literature, and leave a comment below to recommend any other writing retreats in Scotland. Happy writing!

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