I’m having a lot of trouble deciding exactly what to use this property for.
My initial idea was, that I need to provide extra value in the way of training, coaching, or services. Because a lot of writers probably don’t need a writing retreat – they need help building a successful author career.
Likewise, a lot of digital nomads or startups need an incubator – they need coaches or very successful people with much more experience who can help them succeed much faster by avoiding common pitfalls.
But there are two different things going on here:
1. First you need the idea. The BIG idea is often a result of high pressure interaction with exceptional people. So you need to find an exciting, busy, event full of them and chat with everybody. You really need focus groups, where you can talk about your problems or ideas (the business you want to start, or the book you want to write) and get feedback, help, structure, guidance. Fleshing out those ideas before you sink 200 hours of work into them is really important. Most writers don’t do this.
It’s very difficult to rewrite or restructure a badly written story, just as it is difficult to save a badly put together business. So you need to make sure it’s a good idea that’s going to be successful. In the startup world, we call that validation. Put up a quick website, see how people react. Fine tune. Pivot.
In the publishing world, that rarely happens (though it could, and probably should – I’ll be doing some of that soon). Instead writers spend months or years writing a book, finishing a book, making it perfect, getting it edited, formatted, designed and published… all with zero validation. And then they find out whether anybody wants to read it.
So you need to get the idea right, the story right, first.
2. But then you need to do the work. And to do the work, you don’t need an exciting place with lots of interesting people. You need a nice, comfortable, convenient, beautiful place with fast internet where you can spend 12+ hours a day doing the work.
So I probably need to do a bit of both, and have some big fun events, or writing retreats centered on coaching, and also some slower months, where there’s just a few of us and the huge castle is mostly empty and we are extremely productive (although, it is easier to be productive and happy, I think, if you are around other people also being productive.) It’s nice to do the work in a group. That’s what coworking spaces are all about.
3. But you also need to be around people doing the same kind of work. I can’t have fiction authors, and non-fiction authors, and startup digital nomads, all in the castle at the same time, because there will be a language barrier. They need to be able to discuss their work and get really valuable insight and feedback. So I’ll probably need to cycle….
3 weeks fiction
1 week special event
3 weeks non-fiction
1 week special event
3 weeks online business
1 weeks special event
But that sounds exhausting. But the alternative is to find 10 other authors who want to put in $100,000 and split a castle, but that’s unlikely I think (or maybe not… if I just get Hugh Howey, Amanda Hocking, AJ Riddle and a few others). But to be able to do that, I would need to be making $100,000+ a year on book sales myself, and I’m not there yet. And most authors never will be.
Which is also kind of the point: most of us will never be rich enough to buy our own castle. But together, we can each buy a shared experience of living in a castle. We will be like university alumni, recognizable through secret handshakes and seals, eager to help each other continue to succeed long past our castle-experience.
That’s the goal at least.
Worth pursuing, right?