Hello. Urban Writers’ provides space and time to write away from distraction, through one-day writing retreats in London and online programmes.

Who are you and why are you doing this?

Queen of Procrastination

Hello! I’m Charlie and I’m an Olympic-level procrastinator. But you’ll never be a writer if you don’t write the writing, right? So that’s what I’m trying to do, and I’m helping others do the same as I go.

Be warned. If we meet in person, I’ll probably try to feed you cake.

I’m here to facilitate your retreat, to provide a supportive atmosphere and tools to help you write (the important things like tea and biscuits). I’m not a professional writer. My job does involve writing though, and I have an MA in English Literature and attended a writing course at New York’s Writers Studio. I struggled for years with motivation and confidence before writing a novel and a screenplay within 6 months (unpublished! I make no claims for their quality – the important thing was actually doing it).

Without the time or money to go on a traditional writing retreat and inspired by short, sharp exercise bootcamps, I decided to deal with my procrastination issues by creating short retreats in London that would fit into my everyday life. I needed motivation and wanted to feel less alone in my writing, so I took a deep breath and hired a room for a couple of weekends. When professional writers booked places and people booked repeat visits it confirmed that Urban Writers’ Retreat was A Good Thing, so here I am.

When people started to say that they’d love to come to a retreat but were a bit intimidated, that they hadn’t written for ages, I decided to set up an online bootcamp to help writers get past that first hurdle and get back into the habit. Just like the writing retreats, I set this up to solve my own problems, so I have a vested interest in it working!

I also give talks and workshops that involve very silly games with words, and have spoken at a Starbucks product launch (bizarre, I know).

I’m interested in a lot of different things, and tend to look at them through the lens of writing and how these things affect writers. This means I want to investigate things like why we write and why we don’t, behavioural psychology (motivation and procrastination),  the nature of ideas (how we get them, why we get them and what we need to do to make them happen), creative entrepreneurship (how folk like writers can take themselves free-range and make a living from what they love) and how new technology is changing how we live (hello, kindle!).  My blog is developing, but it’s likely to be a random collection of exerpts from my personal journey as a writer and solopreneur mixed with useful resources and exercises for writers. If you want to see some of the stuff I find interesting, I collect links to things I don’t want to forget about on Tumblr. Or at least, I do when I don’t forget I’ve got an account…

I might sometimes suggest books, online programmes, etc, either on the blog or in my newsletter, and these might be affiliate links. Like I said, I’m investigating how we writers can get paid to do what we love. If I find things I like I share them with you regardless of whether I will get paid or not, but when the opportunity’s there waiting I’d be silly not to take it. A girl’s gotta eat! Just thought it best to be clear about it now, and I won’t be offended if you take the details and go buy it without my link (actually I’ll never know, so who cares?). Do I really need to say I’d never link to something I didn’t believe was useful and, well, pretty much brilliant? Well, just so you know, I wouldn’t.

Can I read some reviews or testimonials?
Urban Writers Retreat: Totally worth it! by Alexandra Goldstein.
Writing a Novel, Are You?… Yeah, Me Neither on  Girl with the Golden Mind. Yup, this is exactly why the retreats are here.
By Karen Ball, children’s author and editor.
On Sianyland. Sian is a freelance writer who came to the retreat to finished her novel. She wrote an astonishing 13,000 words and did it – woo!
Robert Long on I Only Said. Rob’s a short story writer who, like me before I started UWR, had always though retreats meant huge expense and time away.
Artshub review.

Who will benefit from an Urban Writers’ Retreat?
Anybody who is serious about writing and wants to commit themselves to it for a block of time. You can be at any stage from a total beginner with an idea to a professional writer with a deadline who just needs time and space to focus.

Are there lessons? Do we read our work to the group?
No. While both of these are valuable, Urban Writers is specifically about getting you writing. If you get stuck while you’re on a retreat, you may find the best thing you can do is to write through it and mark problems to deal with later. If you feel you need more guidance or tutorials then I can suggest some organisations that run ‘proper’ courses.

Where are you?
The Cube is the venue for the current series, but I’ve used a couple of other locations in the past. Our first venue was a lovely atmospheric room at The Rag Factory, a converted warehouse just off Brick Lane. It’s well-located and is used for all sorts of creative endeavours – particularly recommended for art shows and theatre rehearsals. We then spent a very happy 2009 running from The Make Lounge, a gorgeous space that I highly recommend offering sociable contemporary craft workshops.

How do I contact you?
I can be reached on hello@urbanwritersretreat.co.uk. Please feel free to contact me with any comments, requests for retreats that meet your specific needs, or to say hello. I can also be contacted on 07971 593883 and you can sign up on the right to receive the newsletter with new retreat information and other writerly things.