THE EVENT

Workshops & Panels

Adam Gopnik leads a workshop during the 2015 IWR. Photo: Roman Gerasymenko.

Over the course of the retreat, each participant is enrolled in a total of five two-hour small-group writing workshops (max. 15 participants) led by internationally acclaimed authors, a Q&A panel with all faculty, and numerous readings and social functions.

Each of our Featured Authors teaches two different workshops, and you have plenty of time to interact with faculty, including those with whom you do not have any workshops.

Workshops were amazing. Down-to-earth discussions in a small group atmosphere.”

– Sam, Canada, 2015 participant
FEATURED AUTHORS

2018 Faculty

Adania Shibli

Adania Shibli

Award winning author and teacher
Andri Snær Magnason

Andri Snær Magnason

Icelandic Literary Prize winner
Craig Davidson

Craig Davidson

Scotiabank Giller Prize nominee
Gwendoline Riley

Gwendoline Riley

Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction nominee (2017)
Hallgrímur Helgason

Hallgrímur Helgason

Icelandic Literary Prize winner
Hilton Als

Hilton Als

Pulitzer Prize winner
Lauren Groff

Lauren Groff

National Book Award finalist
Lina Wolff

Lina Wolff

August Prize winner
Pamela Paul

Pamela Paul

The New York Times Book Review editor
Rory Maclean

Rory Maclean

Bestselling travel writer
Susan Shreve

Susan Shreve

Guggenheim Award winner
Terry Fallis

Terry Fallis

Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour winner

Past Faculty

2018 Workshops

21:27 - 21:27
When writing about the self and others, the key instrument--the locus of the work--is your voice. How do you develop a sound? Is voice something that's specific to you, or can it be learned, first, by
21:27 - 21:27
Stories can entrance, engage, even possess us. Every one of us has a story to tell; factual or fictional, cool documentary or heartfelt family journey, practical travelogue or sparkling flight of the
When you are writing a historical novel or a novel based in the not so distant past, it is always better to do research. Research will always boost the writer's confide
Most writers are pretty much locked inside their own personality; they can only write about themselves and their own lives, while great fiction is all about the big wid
21:27 - 21:27
In this workshop, we will look at examples of literary wickedness from Sula to the Wife of Bath, from Judge Holden to Humbert Humbert and John Milton’s Satan. We will attempt to parse the difference
21:27 - 21:27
In 1951, John Cage entered the anechoic chamber at Harvard University, expecting to hear silence. Instead, as he later wrote, "I heard two sounds, one high and one low. When I described them to the en
21:27 - 21:27
Three steps to writing funny stories:
  1. Acquire or otherwise procure a sense of humour.
  2. Use it when writing.
  3. Rinse and repeat.
Terry Fallis will lead a
21:27 - 21:27
Identity in non-fiction is a powerful and important part of any memoir or essay. How do we say "I" on the page? What do we include or exclude in the narrative of the se
21:27 - 21:27
One of the best, but perhaps most underappreciated, ways to immerse readers in a piece of writing is by appealing to their five senses. Smell, taste, touch, sight, audi
21:27 - 21:27
All our lives have fictional merit and purpose. Even if you think you may have lived a rather mundane existence, you have felt all those things your fellow humans have felt: joy, sadness, guilt, anger
21:27 - 21:27
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” So said Ernest Hemingway. Sometimes the pain and misery of writing comes from not knowing enough about the
21:27 - 21:27
The finest travel books take the reader on parallel journeys, through space as well as into the writer him or herself. Such writing requires honesty, and nerve, but in return it opens doors and transf
How do we choose the form and genre for our next book? Do we have to stick to a single genre throughout our carrier or should we have artistic freedom to explore the many forms of artistic expression?
How do you write about something you are passionate about, what angers you, what makes you afraid, worried. How do you write in the era of the echo chambers and the polarized world. How can you write
21:27 - 21:27
In the age of personal essays and social media, the boundaries between public and private life have blurred, loosened and nearly been erased. Yet not everyone is comfortable writing about him or herse
21:27 - 21:27
What makes for a good book review? And what distinguishes a literary critic fro the many bloggers, reporters, tweeters and fans writing about books on the Internet? Has criticism changed in the digita
21:27 - 21:27
How are these two activities related? Working from a range of extracts, we’ll think about the sounds of words and the beat and rhythm of sentences. We’ll discuss ho
21:27 - 21:27
Writing is rewriting. And far from being a chore, that rewriting is often the most rewarding part of the creative process. This session is a clinic for poorly paragraphs. I’ll bring some examples, b
21:27 - 21:27
Paintings can be a unique source for exploring potential literary styles. We start with the camera-like human perspective, marked by its self-evidence and seeming natural experience of seeing and show
21:27 - 21:27
In a text’s attempt to establish or uncover truth, secondary elements can be more important than major ones. Apart from forensic science, secondary elements form the basis of Sigmund Freud’s analy
21:27 - 21:27
Scenes are the building blocks of fiction and create a narrative of continuous small stories that may or may not be linear but establish the tension, narrative drive, character development and ultimat
21:27 - 21:27
What happens to our memory of an event when it becomes part of our imagination. How can we remember what our mother was we
21:27 - 21:27
The hero in strict sense seems to belong to an epic, remote past, which is why this workshop will focus on the more complex, survival oriented and less sympathetic antihero. How can a writer work with
21:27 - 21:27
Structure is the new black! The novel as a genre is plastic beyond imagination and in this workshop we study different ways to create a more alluring development for a story, than the strictly chronol
THE VENUE

Hotel Reykjavik Natura

The Sóley Natura Spa at Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura (free admission for guests in premium rooms).

The retreat is based out of Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura, a comfortable, modern hotel next to a popular wooded area, just a 20-minute walk from the city centre and five minutes from a geothermal beach. All the workshops and panels will be held here.

The food was spectacular. The service of the hotel was great, courteous, professional.”

– Anon, Canada, 2015 participant
TOUR OPTIONS

Explore Iceland

Participants can choose between three exclusive full-day outings into the Icelandic countryside, in addition to a literary walking tour of Reykjavík. All the day tours are led by and feature contemporary Icelandic writers, and include a stop and reading at Gljúfrasteinn, the former home of Nobel Prize winning author Halldór Laxness.

Literary-themed Golden Circle Tour

A unique variation on Iceland’s most popular excursion that includes stops at Geyser geothermal fields, Gullfoss waterfall, and the UNESCO-listed Þingvellir National Park (Thingvellir), as well as a visit to Iceland’s ancient seat of learning, Skálholt.

Literary Borgarfjörður

This trip travels west to the Borgarfjörður region, setting of the famous Egil’s Saga, as well as numerous other Icelandic sagas. We’ll circle the picturesque Hvalfjörður “Whale” fjord and visit the cultural centre Reykholt, where chieftain and writer Snorri Sturluson lived in the 13th century. Natural wonders on this tour include Europe’s largest hot spring, Deildartunguhver, and the waterfalls Barnafoss (“Children’s Falls”) and Hraunfossar (“Lava Falls”).

Geology, Ecology, and Literary Inspiration

This trip begins near geological wonders in the Reykjanes peninsula, including the spectacular Lake Kleifarvatn (made famous in Arnaldur Indriðason’s novel The Draining Lake) and the Krýsuvík geothermal area. We’ll also have a reading at the Strandakirkja Church, a visit to the Sólheimar Eco Village, and a stop at the Laugarvatn Fontana Spa to sample some delicious rye bread baked in the hot geothermal ground.

Reykjavik Literary Walking Tour

During the retreat, all participants are also invited to join a literary walking tour of Reykjavik, sponsored by the UNESCO City of Literature.

TIME TO WRITE

Focus on Writing

Once you’ve been inspired by Iceland and by the writing workshops, why not spend some additional, quieter time in Reykjavík to work on your writing and enjoy the continued company of some of your fellow writers? We’ve dedicated blocks of time for writers to focus on writing. Participants can choose to stay in the quiet hotel or wander over to a café in town.

Relax & Write Optional Extension

This optional, two-day extension includes two additional nights’ accommodation. You will have free time during the days to take additional tours, walk through town, shop for souvenirs, or write in a local café. The group will then gather in the evenings for dinner together. At the second dinner we’ll have an open mike night where you’ll have an opportunity (if you wish) to share some of your own work with your fellow IWR participants.

The extension was a great idea, good mix between time off and gathering.”

– Martine, Netherlands, 2015 participant
EXCLUSIVE RECEPTIONS

Music, Food, & More

Late night offerings include a chance to hit the streets of Reykjavik to see live music, listen to readings by local writers, and dine at some of Reykjavik’s best eateries. And you’ll be well fed: IWR enrollment includes breakfast, three lunches and one dinner, plus coffee during breaks and cocktail receptions.

We hope to include receptions hosted by Icelandic leaders and will confirm details closer to the event.

The one-on-one contact with the faculty during meals and at the extracurricular activities made this a completely different conference experience.”

–Megan, Iceland, 2014 participant

I love the internationality of the participants. I met people from so many different countries and it was wonderful hearing about their experiences.”

–Muddy, USA, 2017 participant
BRING A GUEST

Spouse & Partner Program

Bring a guest with you—he or she can attend all the receptions and tours—everything except the workshops and lunches on those days. Your guest will be able to book additional tours while you are busy in the writing and workshop sessions. Full details will be available on the registration page.

If you and your partner both want to attend as full participants, that’s fine too, and you can select that option on our registration page.

My partner felt very welcome and accommodated.”

–Renate, Ottawa, Canada, 2014 participant
FINANCIAL SUPPORT

Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award

We offer a special IWR Alumni Award granted based on merit and financial need. This program is open to all, and funded entirely by our great alumni. We will open the application process in about September.

We will once again run a writing contest to win a spot at the Retreat (excluding flights). Sign up to our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest information on how to apply.

Also, check out arts bodies in your home country. Many of our participants have attended thanks to support from arts councils in countries like Switzerland, Australia and Singapore.

The IWR was not only a world-class writing retreat. It was … a chance to cut to the heart of my writing and immerse myself in five glorious days of literary splendor.”

–Megan Ross, 2016 Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award recipient

Á Íslensku

Ritlistarnámskeiðið Iceland Writers Retreat verður haldið í fimmta sinn dagana 11.−15. apríl 2018. Á þessari alþjóðlegu ráðstefnu og vinnustofu gefst rithöfundum og fólki sem hefur bók í bígerð kostur á að taka þátt í námskeiðum og vinnustofum sem þaulreyndir höfundar og ritstjórar sjá um. Námskeiðið verður á ensku.

Auk námskeiða og vinnustofa fá ráðstefnugestir að kynnast hinum ríka bókmenntaarfi Íslendinga. Þeir munu hitta íslenska höfunda, halda á söguslóðir og njóta sérskipulagðra ferða að náttúruperlum landsins.

Iceland Writers Retreat er ætlað að höfða til erlendra gesta sem vilja æfa sig í skrifum og kynnast um leið sögu, menningu og náttúrufegurð Íslands. Heimafólk getur líka skráð sig á námskeiðið.

Ég held að IWR sé mikill hvalreki fyrir íslenska bókmenningu. Leiðbeinendur á heimsmælikvarða ásamt þáttakendum færa heim fjölbreytt og góð áhrif.”

–Andri Snær Magnason

Iceland Writers Retreat 2018

April 11-15, 2018

Register Now

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