A writing retreat in Switzerland

Flüeli-Ranft, with Gasthaus Paxmontana in the centre

What a wonderful six days on the writing retreat in Switzerland this October! Let me share the experience with you through this short write-up.

The participants were an absolute joy to teach: lovely and interesting people, enthusiastic about writing and about everything Switzerland has to offer! It seems right to give them the first word – so here are a couple of testimonials.

We stayed at the Gasthaus Paxmontana in the historic village of Flüeli-Ranft, which sits in enchanting landscape. Built in 1617, the intimate Gasthaus (only 16 rooms) belongs to the nearby Jugendstil-Hotel Paxmontana, an icon of Art Nouveau. The staff were unfailingly kind, attentive and ready to offer assistance with a genuine smile.

Breakfast at the Jugendstil-Hotel was a daily treat. How better to start our day than with the awe-inspiring views on our 1-minute stroll there, with the stunning Veranda Restaurant and a buffet rich in authentic local specialties?

Every morning we had a two-hour workshop on an element of the writing craft: characterisation, story structure and plot development, sense of place… Each session involved a mixture of lecture time, writing exercises, discussion and feedback. Though sharing one’s work was optional, participants were more than happy to do so in a safe and encouraging environment. This openness supercharged everyone’s leap forward, as people learnt from, and contributed to, each other’s work. Over the course of the week, participants acquired tools that helped them define important aspects of their projects.

For lunch we were provided with generous sandwiches to be consumed wherever we preferred on the day: either in the indoor restaurants of Gasthaus and Jugendstil-Hotel, or in their external dining spaces in the autumnal sunshine.

Originally, I planned to leave the afternoons free for independent writing time. However, in pre-retreat correspondence, this group expressed the wish to cover a range of topics which required workshops also on some afternoons. Below, you can see the accordingly customised schedule.

We loved our daily walks in the peaceful landscape around Flüeli-Ranft. Walking and talking in such glorious surroundings was relaxing and an all-round pleasure. As you’d expect, our conversations touched on all kinds of topics. The hikes stimulated effective problem-solving: they facilitated access to fresh perspectives and inspiration for our projects.

We spent an afternoon in the Bernese Oberland, with a stop-over on Lake Lungern and an easy hike on a breath-taking trail in the Hasliberg.

We looked forward to the amazing three-course dinners served at the cosy Gasthaus restaurant, and, on two evenings, in the elegant Veranda restaurant. Both places boast superb cuisine. A vegetarian option was always available.

After dinner, we briefly read something together on an agreed topic, before breaking up for private time and a good night’s sleep!

We left the retreat not just with warm memories, but with new friendships. We can’t wait to see how everyone’s projects develop!

Why not join me on future retreats? The next ones will be:

  • in February 2023 – at a chalet in the Alps of the Bernese Oberland
  • in May 2023 – again at the Gasthaus Paxmontana in Flüeli-Ranft.

You can check out this page to learn more. And you’re always welcome to drop me a line.