“One of the reasons I love these songwriting retreats is that it gives participants time and space to find their courage and give themselves permission to just write songs.  We’ve all been through the horrors and fears of feeling a song’s not so great, or ‘what if I never write another good song…’ Being in a beautiful house and garden full of other songwriters of all ages, levels and genres, and having plenty of support, encouragement and guidance around will help you find inspiration and most importantly help you stick with the process and write.

When I ask people why they write songs, it doesn’t matter what their answer is… “I just love it,” or “I don’t know, it’s like an itch I have to scratch.” That drive is different for everyone, but we need to feel it.

My own songwriting satisfies a need to communicate meaningfully with other people. I still love writing songs, In fact I probably progressively love writing songs more and more as time goes on. That doesn’t mean that it’s always an easy process, but what I’ve learnt is to think of it as a muscle that needs flexing. Not everything you do with that muscle is going to be great, or even worth writing down. But the more you do it the more you are going to refine your process and the more likely you are to get better at it, and to enjoy it more. Don’t be afraid to just do it, and then to dump it.  If you did something yesterday that you didn’t feel was any good, that doesn’t mark you down as a failure, that means you did something yesterday that isn’t as good as something you will probably do tomorrow. You have to keep working at it and you have to be stimulated by it. 

For me the satisfaction comes with having completed a song, and seen it right through, having pushed through any sticky points of feeling it’s not good, and crafted it until it’s saying what I wanted to say. Starting with the idea of what I want to say or a feeling I want to get across is an important stimulus. That doesn’t mean I need to know exactly where I’m going with it, just that I’ve got something that gives me that impetus to write. As you start to flex your writing muscle around an idea or feeling you’ll get more input from all over the place, things you see, what you hear, words you’ve written in your notebook. 

When a good idea comes along you will know it’s worth seeing through. It has a momentum of its own and it gathers speed. It doesn’t have to be something that saves the world…. If your song can communicate with just one person, if you can move them and have an impact, that is a big achievement.  

I’m not interested in hit songs and formulaic writing, what interests me is you coming and writing and sharing songs which are honest and written from your heart. This retreat is all about opening up your imaginations and minds and stepping away from patterns you might be stuck in without realising.

Joining me in February is a wonderful singer songwriter and very experienced workshop facilitator, Findlay Napier.

The retreat, which is suitable for songwriters of all genres and levels of experience, consists of relaxed masterclasses and workshops with plenty of space to walk, think and write as well as to enjoy two lovely evening sessions in the bar where everyone gets a chance to share songs, folk club style. There will be opportunities to meet in small groups with me and the team to get feedback on songs you have written, and with my manager Katie for tips on finding your own unique path in today’s music world. It’s fun!

The retreat includes a Reg and Findlay gig on the Thursday evening

RESERVE YOUR PLACE HERE – NB Halsway Manor is well used to running distanced workshops and we will follow all guidelines to the letter. Any questions please get in touch.