My Writing Retreat in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle and thistle

​I’ve spent the last week on a writing retreat in Edinburgh working on what will be the first book in my new Mexican Mysteries cozy mystery series (featuring Emily Monk and Uncle Cornelius from Up Up and a Slay)

I was joined by around 120 authors from around the world and together we wrote, chatted, worked through plot holes, had impromptu presentations and Q&A sessions, and also had some fun.

Edinburgh is a beautiful city. I’d never visited before and I was excited to see what it had to offer.

The picture above is the view up towards the castle, with some traditional Scottish thistle in the foreground.

I did lots of walking around the city and one of the surprises for me was how early people eat. Restaurants were fully booked at 5.30pm, and dining as late as 7pm often resulted in various items from the menu being sold out.

I was lucky enough to have a view of Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags from my room, and I walked up both during my stay. They gave a beautiful view across to the ocean. I could have sat there all day looking across at the water but I had writing to do!

View from Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh
View from Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

The writing retreat was held on the university campus and included lunch and breakfast in the noisy University cafeteria. I skipped breakfast every day and lunch most days because the cafeteria was just too busy and too loud for me. Writers are supposed to be introverts, but they were awfully noisy at lunch time! 😉

The writing took place in St Leonard’s Hall, a truly beautiful old building that the Americans were convinced was a real castle. It was a wonderful setting for an excellent event.

St Leonard's Hall, Edinburgh
St Leonard’s Hall, Edinburgh

This has been the first writing retreat I’ve been on, and it was very valuable but not for the reasons I’d expected. I was much less productive in terms of how many words I wrote than I am during a typical week at home, but what the retreat offered was the chance to connect with author friends.

One of the highlights was meeting cozy mystery author Rachael Stapleton, who I chat to in messenger all the time but had never met. She made the trip from Canada and we managed to have lunch together (not in the noisy cafeteria!) and go from being virtual connections to real friends. Also at the retreat were fellow cozy authors Steve Higgs, Alana Ling and Anne Lown, so it was a real joy to meet them all and hang out.

I’m looking forward to head home today and spend some quality time with my daughter and husband, who I’ve missed while I’ve been here.

If you’re an aspiring author considering a writing retreat, I’d say go, but be flexible about the value you’ll get out of it. It might be that your word count is lower than you’d hope, but you come away having learned a lot and made new friends - and those things are hard to put a price on!

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