Ever dreamt about being a writer
at work in Venice?
Join us for some intense and creative writing
in the historic heart of Venice
Whether you are writing fiction or creative non-fiction, or for film and television, the Venice Writing Retreat will give you something infinitely precious: time out of your busy daily life and responsibilities, and the space to work on your own writing in an inspiring environment, with individual mentoring.
Give yourself the gift of time to develop your own creativity. You’ll be following in the footsteps of writers as diverse as Casanova, Voltaire and Byron, Hemingway, Daphne Du Maurier, Donna Leon and Ian McEwan.
Sign up for one or two weeks:
10 to 17 October 2023 and/or
18 to 25 October 2023
What will the retreat give you?
Well, perhaps it would be best to let some of our participants tell you what they got out of it. Here’s a medley of their comments:
“The retreat was totally fabulous and it exceeded all my expectations,” said one. Another praised the “excellent creative sessions, feedback, encouragement, insight, caring…”
It is true that there is something about Venice and about the alchemy of a group of writers committed to their craft that turns these retreats into what yet another participant called “the experience of a lifetime.”
“Venice was,” yet another participant has said, “a billion times better than anything I could have imagined.”
What could be nicer than spending a week or two scribbling, walking and immersing yourself in art and history?
How will the retreat work?
Each day will start, after a leisurely Venetian breakfast, with a group talk and discussion, led by All About Writing’s Jo-Anne Richards and Richard Beynon or travel writer and non-fiction specialist Fred de Vries.
You’ll be free to write for the rest of the day either at Ca’ della Corte – or, indeed, in any inspiring corner of Venice that you choose.
Each writer will have a daily one-on-one mentoring session with Richard, Jo-Anne or Fred.
For those who don’t have an existing project, we offer daily creative exercises with feedback, or brainstorming sessions.
In addition, Fred will set an assignment for would-be travel writers and provide mentoring and feedback on the creative results.
The schedule is designed to provide you with the skills, tools and inspiration every writer needs to craft a story.
Ca’ della Corte
Venetian charm, elegance, comfort and warmth
Ca’ della Corte is a 16th century Venetian palazzo which, while retaining the essential flavour of Venice, has been renovated by its passionate owner, Caterina Pensa, to the highest standards of comfort and refinement. Every air-conditioned bedroom either looks out on its own courtyard, or offers a tantalising peek into the neighbourhood.
Ca’ della Corte is an easy eight-minute walk from the station, five minutes from Frari and its glorious Titians, while a ten-minute stroll will take you either to Campo San Polo – familiar to all previous Venice retreaters – or the even more vibrant Campo Santa Margarita. And, of course, more restaurants than you can shake a stick at.
But most of all, Ca’ della Corte offers unparalleled opportunities to the writer seeking a serene and inspiring environment.
The schedule is designed to provide you with the skills, tools and inspiration every writer needs to craft a story.
Who will the retreat benefit?
* Anybody who has longed for the time to exercise their creativity in a warm and supportive environment.
* Experienced writers who need the space to write, with the benefit of another creative eye.
* Beginner writers who want to try their hand at writing, with daily support and mentoring.
* Anyone with a vague idea for a project, who needs to try it out, brainstorm or discuss it with experts.
* And finally, those of us whose daily life has been leached of creativity or romance – and possibly both.
What past Venice participants have had to say:
I found the Venice writing retreat an amazingly positive experience. It was beautifully organised (thank you, Trish!) and it felt like every little detail had been really well thought out… I couldn't have imagined working and being alongside kinder, more helpful and creative people. It was just so much fun… The tutor sessions with you, Richard, were always brilliant and so much fun but at the same time so productive and creative. You stripped all of the unnecessary baggage out of my story and have left me with something so much more straightforward and yet more emotionally complex and satisfying.
It was fantastic. I enjoyed the people, the place and the opportunities to write. There was freedom from the everyday things that distract us, and there was so much to be amazed and motivated by. If you could just have bottled some of it in a spray bottle to use when we needed to mist back the memories or revel in the feeling of accomplishment or joy of camaraderie. First - I liked Jo-Anne and Richard, our mentors, and their ability to be at the same time guiding lights, nudging parents, and motivators. Second - I liked the opportunity. We were there for one or two weeks with every opportunity a writer needs - time, people to motivate, a fabulous place to be inspired by, and plenty of sunshine to keep us out of the dark places writers sometimes go. Third - I liked the variety of people and the inspiration that being with other writers provided.
"Every writer I know has trouble writing," said Joseph Heller, who took eight years to pen Catch 22. For many, an overseas writing course may seem like an extravagance, or, worse, an exercise in distraction. I found the opposite. For a writer, the Venice retreat is a place to run away with yourself, to find the thing that makes writing easy.
The unfailing support and positivity from Richard and Jo-Anne is quite extraordinary, and it helped with all that nervousness and anxiety. I liked finding out how All About Writing works and its ethos, and I’m dead impressed. I want to have a closer association with AAW and I want to come back to Venice on another retreat. I loved the sessions with Richard, Jo-Anne and Fred. The morning conversations (they could have been an hour), the meals together, getting to know the other participants. The schedule, the very efficient communication and organisation (thank you Trish). The generous food and drink. The quiet. The staggered payments! It’s helped me think hard about quite how I want to work now while I’m a full-time academic. I loved being pushed into writing with fiction techniques and want to do more.
… Time to write all day if one wished. Good food, good wine and chats. For me it was great to have Josie 'on tap'. To be able to write and brainstorm and interact with her daily meant that I could get through a pivotal, multi-character scene very quickly and efficiently. We could also discuss the way forward somewhat. It was inspiring.
The Venice writing retreat was an incredibly positive experience. In terms of writing I think it was perfect timing to use the retreat for planning and starting a new novel. I found the brainstorming sessions extremely useful and Richard seemed to intuitively know exactly the tone I was reaching for and helped me both with plotting and finding the little nuances that will make the story come alive. I found the group sessions useful - both in terms of the content and to create a touch point with the other delegates. I had misgivings that I am attempting a project above my skill level and both Richard and Josie were outstanding in giving me confidence AND in helping with the details that have helped me set up the story in exactly the way I wanted and especially with the details that will bring the characters to life and make them likeable without being overly dramatic.
It felt like a family experience staying together, not in a hotel, but in a home steeped in history… I loved that we weren’t rule bound and could do our own thing. I saw so many unhappy, grumpy faces on guided tours as they ticked off the to-do list.
Although I wasn’t sure what to expect, I knew, however, that Jo-Anne and Richard’s approach is always professional and that their guidance is thoughtful, generous and pertinent. From day one, with their first short talk on an aspect of writing, I was motivated to commit myself to the process of the retreat. It was a wonderful indulgence to be able to step away from everyday responsibilities and to be simply a writer for six full days. All I had to do was think about the words I had written and to make my manuscript as good as it could be.
Thank you a thousand times, for an outstanding retreat in Venice and the start of a annual tradition. Thank you Jo-Anne, Richard and Trish… Your organisational skills, as well as all your excellent creative sessions, feedback, encouragement, insight, caring... simply astonishing. Magic is happening here and your writers look to you, hoping that this is the start of an annual tradition!
What a dream Venice will fast become. It was such a hugely successful adventure which you, Trish, made happen with sheer brilliant competence, determination and energy. And as for the mentors - the morning meeting and the one-to-ones were very important.
I only have happy and positive memories of my time spent in Venice on the writing retreat. There was nothing not to love about Venice or the writing experience! Each day I spent at the All About Writing retreat was like being handed a precious gift - unwrapping a myriad of sensory experiences and creativity that made be feel completely energized and alive! I loved the way the course was designed to afford the writers the time and space to write as well as explore Venice. Being my first visit to Venice, I did find I was torn between wanting to write and to explore the city but thankfully I found that there was time to enjoy both. There was never any pressure from our writing mentors or course organisers and i liked that aspect very much.
I found the experience extremely positive, helpful, stimulating and fun. Loved getting to know the faculty. It was wonderful to immerse fully in my project for a week. I found the one-to-one sessions with Richard immensely useful, enjoyable and challenging. The morning group sessions and writing tips were good… Being in a group with other writers gave me positive feedback about my writing project.
I thought the retreat was totally fabulous. It exceeded all my expectations… Venice is a beautiful city and afforded a veritable feast of things to see and do when we were not busy scribbling away…. The one-on-one sessions with our tutors were excellent. A huge thank you to all of you for what I sincerely hope is not a once in a lifetime experience. When is the next one?
It was a real breakthrough for me to see more clearly how to shape up my book and find a path through the mass of material I’ve collected and written. It also helped me realize two important things: that I need to take myself more seriously as a writer of creative non-fiction, and take my book seriously as a publishable proposition rather than an enjoyable hobby. – Jane Salvage, Sussex, UK
What I enjoyed the most was spending time with my writing mentor … what a joy it was, stepping into a creative zone with someone of such immense experience and enthusiasm. This was definitely a highlight for me and a privilege to learn so much. – Sandy Webster, Somerset West, South Africa
I enjoyed the people, the place and the opportunities to write. There was freedom from the everyday things that distract us, and there was so much to be amazed and motivated by. If you could just have bottled some of it in a spray bottle to use when we needed to mist back the memories or revel in the feeling of accomplishment or joy of camaraderie. – Katherine Hoehn, Florida, USA
I thought the retreat was totally fabulous and it exceeded all my expectations. The venue was magnificent, allowing participants a huge amount of space in which to “operate” so that we could be private and meet at common venues. Venice is a beautiful city and afforded a veritable feast of things to see and do when we were not busy scribbling away. – Julien Erwin, Hermanus, South Africa
Thank you Jo-Anne, Richard and Trish. Your organisational skills, as well as all your excellent creative sessions, feedback, encouragement, insight, caring… simply astonishing. Magic is happening here and your writers look to you, hoping that this is the start of an annual tradition! – Gail Gilbride, Hout Bay, South Africa
It was a wonderful indulgence to be able to step away from everyday responsibilities and to be simply a writer for six full days. All I had to do was think about the words I had written and to make my manuscript as good as it could be. I enjoyed the companionship and catching up with other writers and aspirant writers, first thing in the morning around the big table for breakfast, then again at lunch, and on our first and last nights for dinner. – Angela van Schalkwyk, Paarl, SA
TIME FOR WRITING
You may simply need the time to indulge your creative self … Or, you have a writing project and relish the thought of seven full days with nothing to worry about but the words on your page.
Take part in writing practice talks, discussion and creative companionship, and receive individual attention from caring and astute mentors.
The intimate palazzo, in a quiet residential area in the heart of Venice, offers an inspiring setting in which to write and from which to explore.
Enjoy the companionship of fellow writers over two meals a day. Breakfast every day, five lunches and two dinners which will be cooked by a Venetian chef from fresh local ingredients.
Who are we?
All About Writing was founded in 2007 by Jo-Anne Richards and Richard Beynon, two writing professionals who are passionate about writing. We’ve devised our courses to help communicate that passion – plus the skills that make it all much more than an academic exercise – to others with a similar calling.
They include creative writing and scriptwriting courses, coaching and mentoring programmes as well as workshops and writing retreats. Our annual retreat in Venice, which we have been running since 2015, is the highlight of our calendar.
Your tutors and mentors on the Venice Writing Retreat will be Jo-Anne Richards, Richard Beynon and Fred de Vries.
Internationally published novelist, Jo-Anne Richards, has published five books and has a PhD in Creative Writing. Her first novel, The Innocence of Roast Chicken, was originally published by Headline Review in the UK, and has recently been rereleased as one of the prestigious Picador Africa Classics collection.
Scriptwriter, Richard Beynon, has had a long and accomplished career in the film and television industry. He has conceived, shaped and written scores of documentaries, has written over a thousand scripts, and has led numerous storytelling teams in devising story for many of the country’s most popular soaps.
Having lived in various parts of Africa since 1985, Fred de Vries is an experienced traveller and travel writer. He has worked as a foreign editor and foreign correspondent for European newspapers and magazines and has six non-fiction books to his name. He is currently working on a book about America’s Deep South.
With their extensive professional writing experience and decades of teaching experience, you’ll be in very capable hands.