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‘Write a Short Story’ Retreat in Tuscany

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Write a prize-winning short story on retreat at Casale di Clio

Could you write a prize-winning short story?

Have you ever seen a short-story competition advertised and thought: ‘I will write something for that – I could submit something with a good chance of wining a prize – in fact, I have an idea right now that I think would work!’ – only for everyday life to then take over, denying expression of the creative impulse … and the ‘big idea’ fades away? If so, or if you are lucky enough to have plenty of ideas for short stories, but never enough time to get them written, then perhaps a ‘write a short story’ retreat is just for you? A week is just the right amount of time to conceive and write a short story (at least the first draft) – and why not do it here at Informarsi sulla prenotazione per soggiornare presso Casale di Clio? But there’s no pressure: you needn’t aim to write a short story for a competition while here; perhaps you are writing short stories with a view to one day publishing a collection of your own – or perhaps you are just starting out writing short stories (perhaps starting out writing, full-stop). Regardless of why you are writing, why not come for a creative getaway in the Tuscan Apennines?

There’s a welcome in the hills … of Tuscany!

Picture this: you turn up at our bucolic residence up above Bagni di Lucca, where you are treating yourself to a week away ‘on retreat’, with the explicit aim of writing a short story. The residence, a complex of old and characterful stone buildings, is in a beautiful location: a ‘hamlet in the hills’ with stunning views, a garden, and terraces – and there is a bar/trattoria within walking distance! You have your own ‘study-bedroom’, with a desk as a work-station for your project – but there are also various nooks and crannies around the residence, indoors and outdoors, to settle into in case you fancy a change of scene, or to have the opportunity to say ‘ciao’ and strike up a conversation with anyone who might pass by. You have come alone, but you are happy to know that there are others here engaged on their own creative projects while you are working on yours (perhaps you fondly remember sitting around with others when you were younger, each silently revising for for their various exams). You want to focus on writing your short story while on retreat – but you want also to have the opportunity, during mealtimes and/or at the end of the day – if you so choose – to socialise as well.

It’s not ‘all work and no play’

Writers and Artists Retreat in Tuscany, Italy
Take some time out; a retreat is about relaxing as much as writing!

Indeed, it’s likely that you don’t want to be ‘cooped up’ writing for a whole week, focusing solely on that one endeavour – you suspect that you might crave some ‘time off’ at some point – perhaps spent hiking, river-swimming – maybe zip-wiring/paddle-boarding/taking a yoga class in a nearby beautiful river canyon – or maybe just lounging in the sun (or shade) and catching up on some reading, occasionally glancing up to admire and be inspired by the amazing views, which include intriguing hill-villages.

Anecdotally, many have found that a walk or hike is productive exercise between story drafts, or when mulling over a narrative issue; ideas seem to ‘click’ and problems resolve when you are not overly focused on them – and now research shows that when it comes to creative problem-solving “there is a cognitive advantage to be realized if we spend time immersed in a natural setting”. So if you are stuck – take a hike! Alternatively, perhaps you’ll spend time refreshing the creative juices by browsing in the library, by dabbling in some drawing or painting on the balcony, or by learning to play a simple passage of music on the Yamaha keyboard. But don’t be distracted for too long, as you have a purpose here: to finish writing that short story …

Set a goal: write a short story in a week

… and the key to that: Goal-Setting. Before heading off for your ‘write a short story’ retreat you set your self a goal. When it comes to being productive, it pays to set SMART Goals, i.e., those which are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. And so you set yourself a goal of writing the first draft of a short story of 2,000 to 5,000 words for submission to the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. There is a large pot of prize money and it is free to enter! You are confident that a week at Informarsi sulla prenotazione per soggiornare presso Casale di Clio working to achieve this will be perfectly adequate, and so this is a SMART Goal – and a great way to spend a productive holiday in gorgeous Italy! There are, of course, plenty of other competitions (including for novels, non-fiction, poetry) around, including those listed in the guide, with earlier and later deadlines – and even more options if you are happy to pay an entry/submission fee to the competition organiser.

Our library contains a copy of the Writers’ Handbook & Competitions Guide 2024, containing a huge selection of writing competitions organised by closing date – many are free to enter!

You had the foresight to come with a particular competition in your sights, but another resident was not so well prepared. Perhaps they did not have time – they’ll have it here. In any case, that was not a problem; soon after arrival they snuck into the library to flick through the list of writing competitions, arranged according to deadline on a month-by-month basis; they are now working on a portfolio of poems for a free-to-enter competition with prizes worth over £5000! It’s not an issue that they are not writing a short story while on a ‘short story retreat’ – any productive writing is a good outcome. And they might decide to stay for a 2nd week to write a short story after finishing the poetry compilation! – there are plenty of competitions listed in our booklet, and there may be a room available for their second week if it is a quieter time of the year.

It works for other writing projects – not just short stories

Perhaps you don’t want to come on retreat to write a short story; that’s not where your writing is currently at. Instead, your agent has encouraged you to come here to finish that edit of your next novel, a task that seems to have been dragging on. A good week’s focus will allow you to push on through to the end – and then there might well be time to start tidying up the outline for the next in the series. Who knows, if things go well here you might be back for a couple of weeks later in the year, or next year, to get a few chapters of that next book drafted.

A short story writing retreat that pays for itself?

We cannot, of course, guarantee that you will write a prize-winning piece while here – but who knows?! If you do strike lucky, your stay here could eventually end up paying for itself, with more left over on top! Any prize money might go towards next-year’s retreat – when you’ll maybe come for two weeks, with the aim of writing two short stories for different competitions; or maybe you’ll be working on your first novel by then, and aiming to make serious progress here. And on your second visit you’ll know the area better, and come with a note of local eateries to re-visit, festivals to attend, or hikes to enjoy.

And even if you don’t get that ‘ker-ching’ bonus of a competition prize, you will have improved your writing skills and confidence by completing another story for your portfolio – something tangible; you are now getting close to having enough to publish a collection of short stories. And in any case, what one judge or panel considers not a winner – can be awarded a prize by a different judging panel in the next competition; if your Italian Short Story does not win at the first attempt, try again with another competition – perhaps after a re-drafting (why not bring a portfolio of work to Casale di Clio to re-work on the next visit)?

Do Come to Italy and Write a Short Story!

Vetteglia, the ‘hamlet in the hills’ of Tuscany, where you will find Informarsi sulla prenotazione per soggiornare presso Casale di Clio – as seen from the dining balcony of our local bar/trattoria, a 40 minute walk away – or 12 minute cycle ride!

So if you are thinking that you would like to get away to Italy, and especially to Tuscany, home of the Renaissance, then do consider coming to stay at Informarsi sulla prenotazione per soggiornare presso Casale di Clio – where you can decide on the optimal balance between creative writing and relaxing holiday.

Once you have a date in mind, complete and submit a Booking Enquiry form – and if you can persuade someone from your writing group or network to come at the same time, you may find that there is an incentive for so doing!

We look forward to welcoming you to our lovely ‘hamlet in the hills of Tuscany’!

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