How much does it cost?
The fee for the 2017 event was ISK 289,000, including four nights’ accommodation at the retreat venue, Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura (with free internet access and breakfast included). We will announce the fee for 2018 soon.
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The fee is quite comprehensive, with many meals included. Iceland can be an expensive country to visit, so while you don’t need to pay for many additional events yourself, things like meals and drinks can cost more than in other countries.
Where's the apostrophe?
We thought about calling this event the Iceland Writers’ Retreat, but decided to keep our brand plain and simple and wanted to avoid confusion when others wrote about it. So we’re taking a page from several famous companies, like Diners Club and the Vancouver Writers Fest, and going apostrophe free.
Who can attend the retreat?
Everyone is welcome to attend. We think you’ll get the most out of it if you have an interest in developing your skills as a writer, but there is no requirement for you to have been previously published or even to have an intention to publish. Whether you’re aspiring, published, or simply enjoy writing as a hobby, we think you’ll find inspiration and have something to learn from all of our small-group workshops. We are focusing on books — rather than magazines, guidebooks, or online writing — in both fiction and non-fiction.
Will I have a chance to pitch my novel to someone?
The Iceland Writers Retreat was founded by writers for writers. The focus of our program is to help you work on developing your writing, to introduce you to well-known writers, to give you the opportunity to mingle with like-minded people, and to introduce you to Iceland’s rich literary culture. There is no specific time dedicated in the schedule for you to pitch your book to agents or publishers, although of course there will be plenty of chances to network.
I'm a poet/playwright/other writer. Is this retreat for me?
The Iceland Writers Retreat is open to anyone who enjoys writing. Instructors will be focusing on writing for both fiction and non-fiction books, rather than genre fiction or other media. Having said that, we’ve welcomed delegates who wrote primarily poetry or plays, and they still found the workshops helpful. At our 2016 retreat, our featured author Gerður Kristný was also an award-winning poet. Whether you’re working on crime fiction, memoir, or even just scribbling for fun, we’re confident you’ll enjoy the workshops. After you register, we’ll be in touch about how to prioritize which workshops you would like to attend.
I don't write in English. Can I still attend?
Workshops are taught in English, but of course the knowledge you gain should be applicable across all languages. Several of our previous delegates write in languages other than English, and they felt they gained a lot from the courses too.
How much one-on-one time will I get with writers?
The five workshops you attend will be small groups of a maximum of 15 people with one writer. Our writers will also be attending the cultural tours, receptions and meals, so there will be plenty of time to mingle.
Can you guarantee that I will attend workshops with certain writers?
As the event approaches, we will send you information on all the different workshops that will be taught, and you will be asked to prioritize your favourites. We will do our very best to give you a chance to attend your top choice workshops, although due to scheduling issues and maximum class sizes, this may not always be possible. (In the past, however, almost everyone was placed in most, if not all, of their top choices for workshops.)
I'm signed up for five workshops, but the schedule has six workshop slots, with one "free" session. Can I attend a sixth workshop during that time?
Unfortunately not. There is not enough space in the workshops to make an extra sixth workshop available to all participants (though if that became possible, we would of course do so). Also we want to make sure you have a little bit of free time during the workshop days to work on your writing, spend time with fellow participants, or simply relax.
Where do your writers and delegates come from?
Our featured writers come from numerous countries, as do our delegates. You can expect to meet people from around the world, as well as plenty of locals of course!
Why are you called a retreat? Isn't this more like a conference or workshop?
We did think about calling our event Iceland Writing Workshops or Iceland Writing Conference, but we chose the word retreat instead because we wanted to convey a sense of friendliness and intimacy to the event. It doesn’t mean you’ll be isolated or on your own — although of course there is time dedicated for you to work on your writing yourself — but rather that you’ll have the chance to be in a unique environment that is conducive to creativity and have the opportunity to mingle with like-minded people, rather than huge, impersonal crowds.
Do all of your facilities have disabled access?
The main venue, Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura, has full disabled access. The excursion sites are also mostly fully equipped for disabilities. Please contact us with any specific requests or concerns and we will confirm everything for you.
Can you cater to specific dietary requirements?
Yes, that will not be a problem. Please note any dietary requirements on our registration form.
Can I book accommodation separately?
Yes, you can book a package with or without accommodation. If you choose to book without accommodation, you will be responsible for your own transportation between events, and arriving at the hotel for workshops. Please note that we cannot advise on alternatives for accommodation.
If you wish to attend with a friend, you can register with a partner/friend as a full attendee, and then you can share a twin room. Details are on our registration page.
Is it possible to attend only the workshops?
No, we only offer a package that includes five workshops, welcome dinner, receptions, and tours. You can choose whether or not to include accommodation.
I want to stay longer / arrive early. Is it possible to do that?
Yes, and we highly recommend it! There is plenty to see in Iceland. When you register for the conference, you will have the option of booking additional days. You can also contact our travel agent, Iceland Travel, to book additional excursions before or after the retreat, as well as transfers to and from the airport. If you are flying to Iceland with Icelandair, you can use your time in Iceland as a stopover between Europe and North America (or vice versa). Stopovers of up to one week have no extra charge on ticket price.
You may also wish to consider signing up for our “Relax & Write” extension, which includes two additional nights’ accommodation, as well as group dinners and an open mike night for participants to read from their work. We held this for the first time in 2015 and it was very popular.
I'm only staying for one additional night in town. Can I attend just the first dinner of the Relax & Write extension?
Unfortunately not. We have special deals for the meals and accommodation and it’s only possible to book the entire two-night extension.
What should I bring with me?
Once you’ve registered, we can send you a detailed list of suggested items to pack. If you decide to purchase a tour to the famous Blue Lagoon, or make a visit to one of the capital’s outdoor geothermal swimming pools (and we highly recommend this), you should bring a bathing suit with you. Don’t worry if you forget, though; you can always rent one.
What time should I arrive on the 11th and leave on the 15th?
Things kick off later in the afternoon on Wed 11th (around 5 p.m.), so if you’re arriving from North America you’ll have most of the day to relax and even take a nap. If your flight is from Europe it will depend on the arrival time of your flight, but you should be fine with an afternoon arrival.
Our main event finishes in the late morning of Sunday 15, so you have time to get to the airport for an afternoon flight, possibly with a stop at the Blue Lagoon if you wish. Many of our participants choose to stay for the Relax & Write two-night extension too.
Do you offer any scholarships or grants to attend?
Each year IWR looks for ways to provide funding to those who need financial assistance to attend the retreat. In the past Iceland Travel has sponsored a writing contest to win a free slot as has UK’s Writing Magazine. In addition, the alumni have generously funded a scholarship. For more information on this year’s funding opportunities, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.