Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers we’ve pulled together from the questions people ask us most often. If you have any questions you haven’t seen answered below, or you’d like more clarification about anything, please contact us and we’ll do our best to answer.

What experience level do I have to be to join you, and is there an application process?

We host as many new or emerging writers as we do established writers who simply need time away from the daily grind to refresh their souls or kickstart their writing. There is no application process to attend our retreats, although we do ask to meet with each new-to-us potential participant, usually by Zoom. This allows us to get to know new participants a bit to gauge if our retreats are a good fit, and it’s an efficient way to ask us questions about specific retreats or how we shape our retreats in general.

We don’t ask potential participants to take writing “tests” or to have a minimum skill level to join us—we meet writers where they are on their journey. If you have a desire to be in the company of like-minded souls, some of whom have written only a little and others who have published extensively, and you’re a lifelong learner who understands and respects boundaries, our retreats are probably a good fit for you.

All participants—new and returning—must also review our Expectations, Rules, and Refunds page before registering, and agree to abide by the conditions set out there.

What writing genres do you support?

We support writers of all genres, including fiction, playwrights, screenwriters, memoirists, poets, children’s writers, short story, fantasy, travel writers, creative non-fiction, etc.

Dr. Gerard Collins has his BA in education and a PhD in Literature and has mentored professional and emerging writers in all of the above. You can visit Gerard’s author website to learn more about him and his credentials.

While we recognize there are differences between these fields, the bottom line is this: good storytelling and thoughtful use of language applies universally, and our ultimate goal is to help participants become better writers.

How do you decide where to hold your retreats?

We try to vary our retreat destinations, budget, group size, and duration. This allows us to keep things fresh for participants and ourselves, and to offer a blend of experiences for as many writers as possible.

We’ve hosted retreats in Ireland, Scotland, Italy, and England, but we also host retreats much closer to our home: New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, in Atlantic Canada. We’re eyeing Newfoundland (Gerard’s home province) too, and plan to host a retreat there in 2025.

What goes into the cost of a retreat?

There are several elements that make up the cost of our retreats, including such things as accommodations, coaches, outings, meals, and other experiences, as well as the writing component, which is what sets us apart from a regular tour.

Another of the unique features of a Go and Write! retreat versus regular group travel is our venues. We’re writers, too, and we aren’t just looking for a place to lay our heads at the end of the day. We want to stay in places that are conducive to writing, and we aim for quiet, inspirational, and comfortable settings. In fact, our venues, themselves, play a significant role in the overall retreat experience—we spend months researching hotels, castles, and manor houses, seeking out places that kindle our creativity and are welcoming to writers.

Similarly, we enhance our retreats by hiring local tour guides, storytellers, and musicians. This supports the local economy while giving participants authentic experiences that are meant to spark creativity.

Do you offer scholarships, grants, or subsidies of any kind? How can I make a retreat more possible, financially?

We sincerely wish we were in a position to offer financial assistance, but we’re a small business (it’s just the two of us) and as full-time writers, ourselves, we simply don’t have the means to subsidize others. When we’re pulling together these retreats, we do our best to negotiate competitive pricing with our providers and we keep the costs as low as possible for participants, but there’s no getting around the fact that travel, hotels, coaches, and meals are expensive. The pandemic has also had far-reaching economic consequences, increasing costs on everything from heating and food costs to fuel for coaches and higher wages for the hard working people who are employed in the hospitality industry.

That said, previous participants have made a Go and Write! retreat more affordable by exploring the following options:

    • Sharing a room and costs: We don’t ask people to share rooms on Go and Write! retreats and we don’t pair strangers, but writers can bring another adult to share their room and costs as a “double” registration. This second person can be another writer, but we also host non-writing guests (spouse, sibling, friend, etc.), and many of our venues have a handful of rooms with two beds (just ask when you contact us). Non-writer guests are welcome to participate in as few or as many of the retreat activities as they wish, and we’re happy to have them join us on retreat as long as they respect the fact that it’s a writing retreat and are content to follow the rules we set out. Truth be told, some of our very favourite retreat memories have involved a “non-writer” travelling companion.
    • Payment options and schedule: If you want to space out your payments so they’re more manageable, we can set you up on a payment plan so you pay in instalments. We don’t charge interest or anything extra for this service.
    • Grants and professional development opportunities for professional authors: Our credentials help make Go and Write! retreats viable candidates for funding support applications, either through arts organizations or employers. Gerard holds multiple awards for his novels and short stories and has earned several degrees, including a doctorate in English Literature and an education degree, and Janie is also a multi-award winning author and arts administrator. We don’t share this information to toot our own horns, but to explain why Go and Write! retreats are viewed as professional development opportunities and are good candidates for financial support. We select our venues, regions, and activities for their creative inspiration, and our choices are also often based on their literary significance, which also makes our retreats appealing for arts funding.

Many provinces and states have non-profit arts organizations that provide professional development grants to professional artists and writers, as well as travel funding to help with project research. The employers of some of our previous attendees, including university professors and those who work in communications and marketing, have funded a portion or all of the retreat as a professional development expense.

    • Tax deduction for professional writers: As a registered corporation, Go and Write! issues receipts for our retreats, and professional authors who earn income from their writing can consider keeping their receipts for their registration and other expenses incurred on retreat if they want to claim the retreat on their tax returns.

Ultimately, if you just can’t afford a Go and Write! retreat, we recommend that you consider joining your provincial or state writers’ group. Oftentimes these non-profit organizations offer reasonably-priced writing retreats and workshops, and it’s a great way to get to know your local writing community. We know it’s not the same as traveling to write with like-minded souls, but these local writing groups can help offer some support and companionship to what is often a solitary craft, and that may be something you can do while you save for a retreat with us in the future.

Do you charge extra for solo travellers, a.k.a. a “single supplement”?

No—the “single” cost is actually the true cost of the retreat, but if you share your room with someone else, you’re splitting the total room cost between you, which lowers the price per person.

Why don’t you include airfare in your costs?

We’re fortunate to have people join us from all over the world, so including airfare just doesn’t make sense. We’ve also found that our participants often want to get a head start on their trip, extend their stay, or visit other countries since they’re already traveling.

Why do you take a non refundable deposit?

We take non-refundable deposits because our providers also require non-refundable deposits from us.

Do you recommend trip insurance?

Absolutely, and not just medical insurance for once you start traveling—we also highly recommend trip cancellation and interruption insurance. Talk to a few providers to see what they do and don’t cover. See our Expectations, Rules, and Refunds page for more information about the importance of trip insurance and our cancellation/refunds policy.

Do you offer refunds?

Your non-refundable deposit is 100% non-refundable—we also have to pay non-refundable deposits to multiple service providers, and we don’t make exceptions to this—but depending on the timing of your cancellation, some of your payment(s) may be refundable. Please see our Expectations, Rules, and Refunds page for more information about our cancellation/refunds policy.