A couple years ago I decided I wanted to buy a castle, to use for creative coworking spaces and writing retreats. I pulled the trigger and rented a castle for Nanowrimo 2016. It should be amazing, and it means I get to invite some guests to come write books and share an experience.
Friends have told me this is a terrible business idea, and I agree – but I wouldn’t run it as a for-profit business. I’d run it to provide value and to symbolize the kind of creative daring I encourage on Creativindie; and to surround myself with fascinating people I can grow from and share my knowledge with.
If you’re interested, you can sign up to win a free room in the Nanowrimo Castle 2017 right now!
I’m leaving the rest of this post up so you can see my thought process… some of it was written a year or two ago but lays out my vision for a coworking castle and how I plan to make it a reality.
The following is old, but talks about why I want a crowdfund a castle.
Over the past ten years I’ve lived in dozens of countries. In the past four years I’ve been making a pretty good living online and my wife and I love to travel and have adventures. But there are two things I’ve been dissatisfied with.
1. To live a productive, creative lifestyle, you need to be in an inspiring environment. But a spacious, beautiful apartment (that also happens to be in a natural setting) is too expensive.
2. You also need to surrounded by a group of amazing people with similar goals, so you can give each other feedback and support.
That’s why I want to buy a castle.
And I want to share it with you.
I’ve learned a lot about writing and publishing books. Here are a few of them:
- It’s easier when you focus on only one thing at a time, and have no distractions.
- It’s easier when you are in a group of other people also attempting big projects.
- It’s easier if you’re in a beautiful, “foreign” environment, so that you feel pampered and special, with new and exciting surroundings.
- There should be a lot of nature for long afternoon walks.
- Somebody else should take care of cooking, cleaning and chores, so you can focus on what’s important.
Rather than doing something boring like Skype coaching or weekend writing retreats, I want to offer a life-changing experience. To do that, I need something a lot grander than a three-star hotel. Something like this.
It’s gotta be inspirational. Not just pleasant or calming or comfortable: the natural beauty should be so overwhelming you can’t believe it’s real.
It should be historical, with modern furnishings but a classic feel so that you can easily imagine yourself slipping through time; an ageless, timeless experience.
It should be big – big enough to accommodate at least 50 people each month; I’m very interested in the idea of having a glorious “main house” but also building a bunch of micro houses on the property for extra beds and extreme solitude, silence and reflection.
The main castle/chateau will be restored in glory and beauty, but with modern convenience (I don’t want it to be too modern and shiny… I want it to be authentic). There will be fast internet and hot coffee, but depending on the age of the building, we may not have all the comforts you’re used to.
If it gets cold we’ll pile on the blankets or hand out fingerless gloves, light fires and make a batch of hot spiced wine. If it’s too hot we can find a fan or you can talk a cool walk through the woods or a dip in the pool (there will probably be a pool).
It may not be as refined and glamorous as I imagine at first (it depends how much we raise and what I can afford) but even if I buy a fixer-upper, I’ll furnish it lovingly with ancient leather chairs and solid oak tables. It will have an enormous library of the world’s best literature and hundreds of reproductions of the world’s finest paintings. It will be the most inspirational place in the world.
Depending on space I’m keen to throw in some more modern touches, like a rock climbing gym or repelling down the walls, or a zipline. I’ve also always wanted a huge pool of those little plastic playgound balls. A jacuzzi or three wouldn’t hurt.
We’ll throw fancy galas every few weeks and invite live musicians whenever possible.
We’ll have chickens (so we can eat fresh eggs) and a big garden (so we can produce our own vegetables), and maybe swans and peacocks (because they’re pretty).
We’ll also offer some cultural experiences and tours, and perhaps bring in a daily language tutor so you can learn a new language during your stay (always a useful skill). We’ll have plenty of leisure activities and fun, but the priority will be providing the space to do the work. That means mandatory silent areas (or times), accountability and planning sessions, and a very structured but isolated world of creative inspiration and motivation.
If it gets funded successfully I will take feedback on your person dream vacation, and spend several months on a castle tour of Europe, but the final choice will depend on lots of factors including property taxes, ability for foreigners to purchase land, using it as a business, etc.
What I can’t guarantee yet is the space and size of personal rooms – they may have to be small, although I will try to avoid shared rooms. But they will be comfortable, safe, and private. Bathrooms may need to be shared. But the sheer grandeur of the environs should more than make up for it.
How it will work
To make this happen, I’m going to be pre-selling a 3-week author platform building course, with celebrity guests, and we’ll launch the whole thing on Kickstarter in 2015. We need 1000 people who are willing to pay $5000 for an amazing adventure, with the happy side-effect of putting together a finished author platform that will help them sell more books for years to come.
The first 2 years we’ll focus on providing outstanding value and experiences. I’ll will be your personal publishing champion. I’ll help you finish, design and publish your book, market hard and sell a lot of copies.
I’ll also have a referral program, for example anyone who’s responsible for selling 20 slots will get to come for free.
These prices may change, and “all inclusive” will probably mean an open kitchen and a chef, plus meals – but not snacks and alcohol.
Want to come for free?
If you already have a large following in the publishing world, or have sold over 500,000 books, you can drop by anytime – we’ll keep a room open for you.
I’ll probably also take on a few people who’d like to do some cooking, cleaning, or specialized skills like web design, book editing, formatting or marketing. We’ll also need someone to fix things up (a handyman) or run errands.
Spacing and accommodation will depend on the size of the house; and hopefully we’ll get enough supporters to book all the rooms for 2 or 3 years in advance (which means we can buy a bigger and much more awesome castle!)
After the initial obligations are met, I’d like to run the castle as a writing retreat/artist commune so I can invite creative people to stay for free and produce their world-changing work.
When is it going to happen?
I’ll be running a Kickstarter campaign, probably in the fall of 2015.
In March we’re moving to Prague to start shopping for castles.
We’ll be blogging about our castle-touring so you can help us pick the right place. You can follow me here or on this dedicated site for the journey:
There will probably be room for only about 30 people at a time, so if this is something you might want to do, please join my email list or follow me on Facebook or Twitter so that you’ll know when I launch the project.
The location will depend on whichever country has the most incredible property, but the short list includes:
- Czech R.
We will help you get here, but the plane ticket is up to you and is not included in your reward.