Creative Castle (the world’s greatest writing retreat)

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 French Chateau for Nanowrimo 2016. It was amazing and we got featured on CNN.

We rented two castles in 2017: one in Austria and one in Spain. The experience was unbelievable. We’ll do it again in 2019 (we have our eye on this amazing complex in France… surrounded by tall pine trees and crumbling ruins.)

castle writing retreatcastle writing retreat castle writing retreat

We’ll be there for 3 weeks, sometime around September 2019.

If you want to come for free, I set up a giveaway page where you can enter by sharing.

Originally I planned to BUY a castle by raising funds on Kickstarter. While that’s still a possibility, I’m more attracted to a writing “camp” in Oregon or Washington. Below are some of my thoughts and notes about the type of creative space I’m hoping to manifest into the world.

Why a castle?

I want a castle because it’s a big, audacious symbol. It represents the creative daring I encourage on Creativindie. It demonstrates that all dreams are possible.

While it isn’t necessary, I only want to do big things that excite people.

Unrealistic things.

Impractical things.

However, I’ve also come to appreciate that what I’m really looking for is to surround myself with fascinating people I can share my knowledge with, in an inspirational setting. Also, for this to work I really need somewhere accessible and easy to get to. That’s why I’m also looking for some property in Oregon I can turn into the world’s greatest writer’s colony. We’d do glamping + writing sprints + book marketing masterminds.

It would look something like this…

That might be a few years out though… in the meantime sign up for your chance to win a free stay at the castle!

7 things I learned living in a castle for Nanowrimo


Here are the original musings I posted about my 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.


Or this.

writer's castle

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.

coworking space

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.

Nanowrimo Castle – help me choose!


  • Liam M. Taylor Posted

    Sounds great! Also sounds like I need to sell 500,000 books. Hmmm.

    • Derek Murphy Posted

      You and me both, Liam. Let’s get to it!

      • Liam M. Taylor Posted

        Indeed! The website’s looking pretty darn good, as well, Derek. Nice work!

  • Shah Wharton Posted

    Yeah, if you want more for your buck, ditch the Italy and Portugal idea 🙂 France is pricey too… Germany is a good bet, although Czech and Romania might be cheapest. We’re about to spend that much on a four bed semi in UK! Not a castle, but it will be our castle. 🙂 Love the idea of the two week course, according to where it is. Another great idea. You are a big ball of creative genius Derek. Any support required, pass it on. I’m always a happy team player. 😀

    • Derek Murphy Posted

      Thanks Shah, economies keep fluctuating but it’s not a bad time to buy. A lot of people (and even governments) are offloading big properties that cost more than they earn. Germany is where the really old style castles are.. I’ll probably start a blog just for castle shopping and spend several months exploring old properties in Europe.

      • Shah Wharton Posted

        Superb. Love Germany, so hope you find something there – large, old, creepy 🙂

  • Franki Dolley Posted

    This is incredible.

  • Myka Reede Posted

    Cool. Would definitely be interested in the 1 week and certainly tempted with the two week versions! Will be watching my emails. Love your big ideas and can’t wait to see how it turns out. Way to go.

    • Derek Murphy Posted

      Thanks Myka, it will be a fun project. I’m going to start a Pinterest board for castle ideas soon. 🙂

  • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Posted

    Marvelous idea – I’ll keep you in mind. Hope you get your castle.

  • Léonard Belmont Posted

    Awesome Idea

  • Derek Murphy Posted

    Thanks Aron – Italy or Germany may be better choices. One hard part will be transportation, but I don’t really want to do it in the USA or Mexico… Europe just has more magic and history.

  • Derek Murphy Posted

    Yup – and isolation is a killer for most other uses, like running it as a short term hotel. But for a long term writing program… isolation is a bonus.

  • JeffMcKinney Posted

    Exciting stuff, Derek. Wherever you end up buying the real estate, your energy and passion for the project will make it succeed.

  • SarasInParis Posted

    Real estate in central France is quite reasonable, even near the Loire Valley. The further back you are from the borders and beaches, the less expensive it is. Just curious: Why not England? It could save you a lot of nightmares to sign contracts that are in English. Best of luck to you, Derek!

    • Derek Murphy Posted

      I don’t want something too cold in the winter, England has great castles but most are being used and are already furnished; there aren’t many sales and the prices are steep. France has hundreds…

  • Derek Murphy Posted

    Can you find some for me? I’ve been looking, the only one I see is Butron castle for 3.5million…

  • MollyK Posted

    I love this! I’ll come and cook! This is a brilliant vision. It will be wonderful!

    • Sharon Knight Posted

      Molly!!! Let’s do this together!!!! This is the best thing ever!

      • Derek Murphy Posted

        Glad you’re excited about it, me too! Still looking for the right castle…

        • Sharon Knight Posted

          Totally am! I am enjoying following along with your choices. I will keep doing so. Also, I will be a good sport about the fact that I can only ever come up with the second coolest idea of all time now. :+)

  • Brian DiCarlo Posted

    Where are you at in this kick-project Derek, may I ask? Neat sovereign-community BASED intention… royally!

    • Derek Murphy Posted

      Still building: I’ve decided to focus on platform, traffic and products for a little while. Once I get to 10K a month in passive income (plus do some publicity/platform building stunts to get famous) this will be much easier. Still on the lookout for a castle too – we’ve made two trips to Europe but haven’t found the perfect one yet.

      • Brian DiCarlo Posted

        I ‘ll stay plugged in with you… deeply creative energy and true Visionary leader style. I like it.
        Budding the entrepreneuring Spirit and flowering Creatorship, we all need to get on board and realize highest potentials. Humanity thanks you Derek…. Brian( moralpreneuring, spiritual juicing and former Castle maintenance man 🙂 )

        • Derek Murphy Posted

          You’re a former castle maintenance man? Cool – you’re hired. 🙂

          • Brian DiCarlo Posted

            Yes, I thought I might be… no roof tops though! 🙂

      • Allen Mathews Posted

        Derek, I love this massive goal you have. What an epic idea and dream. It makes me want to drop everything and focus on writing 24-7! Have you thought about interim experiences, like renting a castle? Anyway, I’m inspired by your site.

        • Derek Murphy Posted

          I decided this week I WILL rent a castle, a few times a year, and run giveaways for the other rooms. 🙂 That will be gold for list building and platform building, and make it all seem more ‘real’.

  • Franki Kidd Posted

    I’m in.

  • Bethann Shannon Posted

    I’m there

  • Helen Hoffmann Posted

    Puerto Rico has great places and the flight prices are not as high as other places and tropical weather with ocean view in November would be a plus… just another place to add on your list 😉

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