You know there's a best-seller in you but you don't know where to start and your current career just doesn't give you the time to find it. Sound familiar?
The good news is it can be done. Bryce Courtenay went from being the creative director for Australia's best advertising agencies to bestselling fiction author. J.K. Rowling was a researcher and secretary before becoming the world's most successful author. Fay Weldon started as an advertising copywriter, Marian Keys was an accountant, John Grisham a lawyer and politician, and Jo Nesbo a stockbroker. Get the picture?
The best news is you can do it in your annual leave by combining your writing desire with an exotic or urban location and guidance from some of the world's best authors who scatter the words Pulitzer, Booker and Orange throughout their LinkedIn profiles.
Sign up to any of these retreats and start writing.
The Writers Lab in Skyros, Greece
Choose your writing genre then choose your week from June to September every year and be guided by award-winning published authors in a classic Greek Island setting for three hours a day. Add daily gentle yoga, time for wandering the ancient island, personal writing time and beach time.
Iceland Writers' Retreat, Iceland
Fancy being led by Orange Prize for Fiction winner Barbara Kingsolver, Man Booker Prize nominee Alison Pick or New Yorker staffer Adam Gopnik? They're just three of the 10 prestigious writers who will guide small groups of writers over four days in Reykjavik from April 8 to 12 in 2015. Each registered retreat writer partakes in six small group writing workshops, an active social interaction program, local tours and daily time to write.
The Faber Academy at Allen and Unwin, Sydney
A mere 15 would-be fiction writers will descend upon the HQ of Allen and Unwin publishers from October 20 to 24 this year for tutelage from Orange Prize nominated Kathryn Heymon, author of five novels. Guest tutor during the week is Ross Grayons Bell, who was the creative producer and adaptor of the cult film Fight Club. $1100 will get you one of these sought-after seats and includes daily morning and afternoon tea, lunch, two workshops a day and writing time.
Literary Adventures, Spain
London's The Literary Consultancy offers writing holidays in Spain each Northern autumn and spring in a four century old Spanish casa in the Alpujarras mountains. The week is capped at 12 participants who are overseen by published author and journalist Rebecca Adams with Rebecca Swift, the founder of The Literary Consultancy. The five-day writing adventure covers accommodation and board for £695 ($1223).
Paris Writers' Retreat, France
Spend time with New York Times bestselling authors and literary agents in romantic Paris. The Rohm Agency offers two retreats a year in the French capital with the likes of Pulitzer nominated Suketa Mehta and screenwriter Pan Nalin, and New York agent Sterling Lord. The intensive course costs $US1995 ($2133) and does not include accommodation.
Arvon has four rural writing houses in Devon, Inverness-Shire, Shropshire and Yorkshire in the UK. Fifteen writers and two tutors write, cook and eat together while staying in one of these homes. Mornings are spent in workshop and afternoons in tutorial and writing time. Courses offered revolve around fiction, non-fiction, writing for screen and life writing, and are run by established and esteemed published writers. £700 ($1232) will get you a room in the house, meals and the course for the week.
Australian Writers Centre overseas writing tours
Fancy a writers' week with fellow Australians in an exotic location? Choose from Vietnam, Bali, Paris and Oxford and explore the author within. From food writing to life writing to fiction, you will be guided by respected published writers in emotive settings designed to get the creative juices flowing.
Memoir Writing Retreat, Dartbrook, New York
Work with renowned author Abigail Thomas on the story of your life over five intensive days with an intimate group of eight in the Adirondack High Peaks of New York State. A chef provides local produce-inspired meals, Abigail gives both one-on-one and group tutelage, and daily writing is required. The cost is $US2295 ($A2454).
Vancouver School of Writing in Mexico
Two separate weeks are offered in January and February near Manzanillo in Mexico led by writing coach and author of Writing With Cold Feet and the A to Zen of Writing, Kathrin Lake. For $C507 ($499) you will receive group writing classes, one-on-one coaching and a social program. Accommodation is extra.
The Writers Journey around the world
Jan Cornall specializes in 'meditative writing' and has retreats in Burma, Fiji, Morocco, Bali, Vietnam and Thailand. Join Cornall in March in Fiji for the Fiji Island Writers Lab and a Breakthrough Writing Retreat, or head to the Irawaddy Writers Festival and a week retreat in Bagan in Burma in February.