Newsletters Archive

October 2008

July 2008

April 2008

January 2008

Browse past issues




October 2008. Volume 8, No 4.












By Julia Shipley

Novelist, memoirist Natalie Goldberg gave us "freewriting" more than twenty years ago when her book Writing Down the Bones came out. The premise of freewriting is to let yourself write the worst crap in America, so that ultimately, the best words may emerge from the deep recesses of your imagination. Goldberg taught her students to write swiftly, reflexively, and without censor. Then Julia Cameron, author of The Artist Way, encouraged people to free write in the morning, to let three whole pages of spontaneous, uninterrupted stuff blurt out onto the page. "In the morning," Cameron urged, before the day is really underway.

The idea behind this rule is that when we are fresh from our dreams, there is a powerful surge of our imaginative unconscious that can push into our prose. This will make our writing and ideas fresh. I think both practices are excellent for helping one excavate new ideas, discover raw material, and connect with the current of our best thoughts and words. But I have a different practice—a quieter, slower way of finding out what poems and essays are lurking inside me.

I begin in the morning with coffee and paper. (Pay attention—this is deceptively simple.) I sit in my pajamas and date the blank page of paper (the reverse side of waste/printed pages), next I touch the pen tip to the paper (it helps to use a ballpoint to avoid making ink blotches), I hold my pen tip TO THE PAGE—that connection is crucial, until something, some words suggest themselves. Instead of willing a whole lot of thoughts (believe me, my working journal is brimming with those), I let the words tell ME what to write. It's kind of a simplified, one woman Ouija board, I guess, except, it isn't my grandmother from beyond commanding my pen; it’s my deepest, best self I finally hear in the morning when those shy thoughts allow themselves to come out.

That's it. That's my secret. Get up, take pen to paper, date the page, and then touch the pen until a word or several words (or a torrent of words) comes. It requires a little faith, and patience, and courage, to see what will emerge, but isn't that also great practice for rising to meet the day ahead.           Happy writing!




By Adilah Barnes

As we embark on the closure of 2008, there is much to look back on and much to give thanks for. Speaking for myself, I want to take a moment to thank all my writer guests who have come to my Writers’ Retreat in Sharpsburg, Georgia, to further their literary work. It is indeed an honor whenever any of the retreats in our particular network are chosen.

          Our executive director, Micheline Côté, has selectively chosen scenic, safe, and inspirational locations. Each diverse location serves as a quiet haven that allows our writers’ minds to unwind, their pens to flow, and that offer each writer space to give pause from chatter and distractions of their familiar environments.

           I have personally been inspired by the extraordinary work that has come through the doors of my writers’ retreat this year. Each writer has demonstrated different stages of their work. Interestingly enough, each one who has honored me with her presence this year has been a writer of nonfiction. Since my current work is nonfiction, the work of these writers has particularly resonated for me.

Subjects this year at my retreat have ranged from creative nonfiction of historical African American figures, to a nonfiction children’s book on the life of the writer’s Puerto Rican mother who emigrated to the U.S. in the 1940s, to a naked memoir by a writer who has battled mental health, depression, and who is a suicide survivor.

          What stories we each have begging to be told!

For me, one of my joys has been spending personal time with each culturally diverse writer to review fifteen pages of their developing work, to support them in establishing their writing goals while at the retreat, and to witness some of their exciting breakthroughs while at the retreat. Without question, each writer will enrich the lives of their readers they touch through their individual voices.

          Indeed, the writers I have communed with have also transported me.

At this time of thanksgiving, I also want to acknowledge how blessed each of us is to have been given the gift to write, no matter the genre and no matter the challenges we face trying to find the exact words we need to communicate through.

With that gift also comes the responsibility of using it—by honing our craft through workshops, disciplining ourselves by writing regularly, and ultimately, sharing the work we create with others.

As we embark on a new year, I hope that each of us will give thanks for our gift, give ourselves credit for the progress we may have made over the year, and set vigorous new writing goals for 2009. For sure, creating a timeline is an excellent way of mapping our course and staying true to our artistry.

Here’s to keeping the pen flowing and to abundant expression beyond measure for all of us in 2009!





By Mary Ann Henry

         The decision to get away and work on one’s writing is often the result of desperation and frustration. We are often pulled in so many directions at once that the idea of a retreat can seem like a dream. Turning that dream into advancing one’s writing takes just the slightest bit of attitude adjustment, not to mention a little research and planning.

          Some writers choose their retreat based on geography, such as a forest sanctuary or the inspiration of an ocean view. This is a smart approach, but if the retreat includes the services of a mentor or writing coach, it is also wise to make sure there is a good match between mentor and writer.

          It is a good idea to find out what genres the mentor prefers. Mentors and editors are happy to supply this information. Writing is like playing music: some of us are better at jazz than classical, fiction than poetry and nonfiction than children’s books. It is a simple enough endeavor to e-mail the mentor or call and briefly explain the expected scope of work while at the retreat. Although both writer and mentor might wish to remain flexible, they can surely work out a plan.

          In my experience, I have found that upon arrival at the retreat, writers are often more than a little overwhelmed. So the first thing I do is sit down with the writer and listen. While I am listening to their writerly explanation of what they wish to accomplish, I listen “between the lines,” to what might be in their heart. For example, a writer recently arrived at the cottage with three different projects in mind. She had already discussed her work in e-mails as well as by phone conversation. She soon confessed that she did not know whether to work on her E-zine project, her nonfiction book proposal, or on the novel she had started a year ago. I asked her where she was with her novel. She allowed that she was stuck at Chapter Two. When I asked why, she replied that it was “too painful to write.” Bingo. That was where I could be most helpful as an objective mentor. Together, we worked through chapter two and after that, she was on fire. She left five days later with seven beautifully written chapters.  

          Being a mentor is part art and part craft—knowing when to leave writers alone and when to nudge them. As I write this, a writer in residence is toiling to put the finishing touches on a memoir begun last year. I know she will not mind if I mention that when she suddenly decided to depart the retreat early, to put other’s needs ahead of her own, I and other fellow writers helped her to understand that the world is waiting for her book. Sometimes writers just have to say “no” to everything but the writing. That is what writers’ retreats are all about: saying no to everything else and a chance to sit in a peaceful place and write, receive immediate feedback, and then write some more. With just a little preparation, your dream is within reach.






We are delighted to welcome Joyce Scott, our newest on-site mentor of The Writers’ Retreat in Loire Valley, France.


This beautiful retreat in unspoiled Southern Loire Valley, offers writers a peaceful and inspiring place to write. Timeless, magical, the castle stands on a wooded bluff overlooking the Creuse River and offers panoramic views of the lush countryside. 


The retreat features five spacious studios, four bathrooms, a great room with a massive fireplace, and cascading gardens that frame the swimming pool.


The castle is located approximately one and a half hours from Paris (80 minutes from Montparnasse by TGV to Châtellerault train station) between the city of Tours and Poitiers, and two miles to the attractive spa town of La-Roche-Posay.


Retreat mentor Joyce Scott is a published writer, who has recently completed Entwined: Of loss, reunion and transformation. She has a BA in psychology and has taught and led workshops in the Bay Area, California for more than twenty years. She is married to Dr. John Cooke, also a published writer, who taught at Oxford University for ten years and has long experience as tutor and editor.

Photographs and more information at:



We are also proud to extend a warm welcome to Maggie Oster, on-site mentor of The Writers’ Retreat in Starlight, Indiana.


Maggie welcomes you to a world away from the complexity of daily life on this 118-acre farm offering the best of all possible worlds, the quiet peacefulness of meadows and woodlands yet five minutes from the restaurants, shops, wineries, and attractions in Southern Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky.


The retreat is a charming country cottage. Beautifully decorated and landscaped, the two-bedroom cottage includes a common living room with an electric fireplace, a dining room, a fully equipped kitchen, shared bathroom with laundry facilities, and wireless Internet.


On-site mentor and author, Maggie Oster grew up on this farm, where her parents instilled in her a passion for nature, gardening, food, crafts, travel, and writing. Over the years, she has written newspaper and magazine columns and articles, edited books and magazines, hosted a television show, prepared food styling for television, and provided photos and text for calendars. The range of topics in her eighteen books includes garden crafts, cooking with herbs, making herbal vinegars, landscape design, growing perennials and roses, making bamboo baskets, and designing Japanese gardens. She is Regional Editor for the Web site of the National Gardening Association. Each long and busy workday on her farm balances her enthusiasm for gardening and food with her delight in sharing her ever-expanding knowledge and experience with others through her writing.

Photographs and more information at:



On-site mentor:  Susan Flint Rajkumar. Please check our Web site on a regular basis for updates.


Make room in your life for a Retreat! Consider it a gift to yourself—a way to connect with your vision.



          Are you looking for a space where you can shut out the world and deeply dig into your writing? The Writers’ Retreat provides the perfect balance of leaving you alone, and at the same time assures you have everything you need while staying with us. The Writers’ Retreat offers year-round residential retreats in:

Québec, Canada (Headquarters)

Ouray, Colorado

Corralitos near Santa Cruz, California

Starlight, Indiana

Folly Beach, South Carolina

Craftsbury, Vermont

Ojochal, Costa Rica

Loire Valley, France

Thiruvananthapuram, India (opening early 2009)

Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast of México


          Please visit our Web site at and click on one of the locations to reserve your private studio.

          If you are contemplating a business opportunity in the literary world, contact us today to learn more about starting and operating a writers’ retreat in your area.





Seeing the Forest AND the Trees:  Assembling a Manuscript

Facilitator: Julia Shipley, on-site mentor in Vermont; Peggy Sapphire, poet

Date:  March 19–22, 2009

Tuition:  $250 (lodging/meals not include)

Enrollment:  Maximum 5 participants to allow for individualized attention

Place: Craftsbury, Vermont

Registration:  E-mail

Lodging: The Writers’ Retreat in Craftsbury, VT; additional lodging available in town.   


In this workshop, the facilitators will address the mess of making a manuscript. Through mini-lectures, exercises, and private consultations, participants will leave with a clearer sense of their work. We'll study a variety of structures in poetry and nonfiction books and discuss techniques for finding threads, themes, patterns, and orders.



Until next time … shape your vision into reality!


Micheline Côté, Executive Director   

The Writers’ Retreat 

Telephone:  (819) 876-2065  




July, 2008, Volume 8, No 3












           Writing is a solitary endeavor and one that often takes as much as it gives. Those of us in pursuit of publishing have to keep so many literary balls in the air while working on our craft that sometimes the technical demands overtake the creative ones. With so much outside (as well as self-induced) pressure, we sometimes forget why we decided to write in the first place. That’s why it’s important to find ways to renew our love of writing.


Avoiding burn-out and renewing enthusiasm for the joy of written expression are only part of the inspiration behind the upcoming writing workshop titled “Writing is Good for the Soul”, to be held October 17-19, 2008 in Folly Beach, South Carolina. The weekend workshop is geared to help writers connect with and free up our creativity; take the everyday pressures off; and find a new way of looking at our work and our lives. Using writing as a form of expressive meditation, this workshop allows writers to delve deeply into who we are: our minds, our bodies and our spirits.


The weekend begins with a Friday evening session titled ‘Connecting With the Spirit of Nature’ where participants will write from the senses in a class held at the ocean’s edge. Saturday includes an all-day workshop titled ‘The Story of Your Soul’s Journey’ and Sunday ends with ‘Connecting With Your Creative Spirit.’ The workshop, taught by Creative Writing teacher Mary Ann Henry, has proved to be hugely popular in the Carolina Lowcountry where it is held.


“I’m a journalist by trade and I never write poetry”, stated Will Beckett, a participant at a recent spiritual writing workshop.  “But I was surprised at how much poetry came roaring forth.” He added, “I re-read some of my writing at the end of the day and I wondered ‘Who wrote that?’ It felt really good.”  Another participant, Sandy Morehouse, spoke of how she doubted her own ability to access her creativity. “I’ve had trouble writing from the heart. I get caught up in expectations and I keep second-guessing myself. But during the workshop, I just let it rip. And the writing showed that new level of confidence.”


The connection between a person’s sense of spirituality and their creativity has long been of interest to the creator of the workshop, Mary Ann Henry. “I try to create, above all, an atmosphere of trust within the group. I let everyone know right away that they’re safe with me, with each other, with themselves. And to see the growth that a person makes in such a short time is thrilling to me as a teacher and a writer.”


Held in an ocean-front location on beautiful Folly Beach, just minutes from historic Charleston, South Carolina, ‘Writing is Good for the Soul’ promises to be one of the most unique learning experiences available to writers this year.


See details at

To register, please call Mary Ann Henry directly at 843-437-1934 or email her at or complete our online form at




Are you looking for a space where you can shut out the world and dig in deeply internally? The Writers’ Retreat provides the perfect balance of leaving you alone and at the same time making sure you have everything you need while staying with us.  The Writers’ Retreat offers nine year-round retreat locations to choose from:

Québec, Canada (Headquarters);

Ouray, Colorado;

Corralitos near Santa Cruz, California;

Folly Beach, South Carolina;

Craftsbury, Vermont;

Ojochal, Costa Rica;

Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast of México.


Please visit our website at and click on one of the locations for more details and to reserve your private studio.


If you are contemplating a business opportunity in the literary world, contact us today to learn more about starting and operating a Writers’ Retreat in your area.





By Adilah Barnes

More and more writer/actors are beginning to combine their talents to create one person or “solo” plays. They are more commonly called “one person shows.” Some choose to create historical figures to portray, while still others draw from their own personal lives to create pieces that are sometimes termed “personal stories.” I have conceived both but for this article I want to focus on writing personal stories. In essence, I see this genre of writing as autobiographical or memoir writing in nature.


As Co-founder and Executive Producer of the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival, I have produced over 400 solo artists from around the globe. They have ranged from first love, rape, family, breast cancer, culture, incest, identity, menopause, death, the workplace, the life of an actor, and many, many others.


I have also taught writing workshops such as From Thought to Pen, Connecting the Inner Dots, and From Stage to Page. In my workshops, the bottom line is first getting stories on paper that actor/writers want to tell.


Some say, “I want to create a one person show on my life but I do not know where to begin!”


I say, “Start with childhood memories.”


Our youthful days are filled with a plethora of memories, charged with emotions that are both pleasant and painful. One way to activate those memories is to use the senses to excavate our past experiences.


For example, as a writing instructor, I have an exercise I use when teaching solo writing workshops where I use guided imagery that makes use of all five senses, one sense at a time. In one group I taught, I guided my students who laid outstretched on the floor as they sensorally went back to their youth. One student in that workshop responded to the sense of touch with a memory of the feel of shag carpeting underneath him on his family’s New Rochelle, New York living room floor.


He remembered how he and his brother’s played “slow motion” football on that green shag carpet without ever disturbing any of his mother’s furniture or fine crystal. From that exercise, he activated the memory of that slow motion football game. That memory also connected him to his individual relationships with his brothers. From that exercise he ultimately created a one-man show called, My Boys and Me, a very compelling piece that explores his relationship with his brothers, both then and now.


Another way to activate childhood memories is to chronologically explore the past, either by age or grades in school. I personally prefer going grade by grade because I have remembered in great detail each of my grade school teachers by name and can visualize quite clearly our classrooms, which have also guided me to relationships and past experiences, year by year.


In either approach, once a series of experiences have been explored on paper, the task of deciding what to choose to what about may begin. Usually, through a series of exercises, there is one or more memories that seem to resonate more than others and that begin to take center stage. This may begin the process of narrowing down the theme of the solo show, as in the former student I mentioned.


I have found that writing in an unedited fashion by just getting the stories out can work quite well. Because we all have many personal stories dancing around in our heads, material is rarely an issue. Giving oneself permission to allow the stories is another matter. For different reasons, some stories we want to share with others, and some we choose not to.


I do believe the more free we are in our storytelling, the more engaging and riveting the work can be. In actuality, there are few experiences we have had that have not already been experienced by others. What sets our own particular stories apart are the specifics, but the broad strokes are essentially the same (i.e. a woman’s fight with breast cancer, the dynamics of coming from a dysfunctional family, coming of age, online dating, etc.)


The telling all begins with the desire to create a one person show. With guidance, the rest will unfold. How exhilarating it is to see a one person play develop step by step from thought to page and then from page to stage!


Adilah Barnes is a writer, actor, acting instructor, producer, Internet talk show host and lecturer. She owns and operates The Writers’ Retreat in Sharpsburg, Georgia. You may contact her directly at




MAKING A GOOD SCRIPT GREAT A three-day script clinic

Facilitator: Linda Seger, author, and script consultant.

Date:  October 10, 11, 12, 2008

Place: Cascade, Colorado (Pikes Peak Region)




Facilitator: Mary Ann Henry, writer; on-site mentor in Folly Beach, SC

Date:  October 17-19, 2008

Place: Folly Beach, SC




Facilitator: Julia Shipley, writer; on-site mentor in Craftsbury, VT

Date:  August 23, 2008

Place: Albany, VT





Until next time… Shape your vision into reality!!!


Micheline Côté, Executive Director

The Writers’ Retreat 

Telephone:  (819) 876-2065




April 2008, Volume 8, No 2

















By Adilah Barnes

When I first viewed the Web site of The Writer’s Retreat, I was most struck by the breathtaking, yet diverse beauty of each location. I remember thinking that I wanted to visit every one of them. That thought will remain a goal for me.


I am delighted to now join in the fold of our network with my new retreat in Sharpsburg, Georgia.


I gave thought to why one might want to also come to Sharpsburg. I was led to the obvious. My location offers a woodsy and serene environment where one can create, but less obvious is that the environment feeds the soul. To that end, I have one room that is reserved for those who wish to meditate, practice yoga, enjoy spiritual music, and just allow silence. A vegan myself, a healthy diet is also part of that spiritual feeding. The retreat is a smoke-free environment and a shoeless space as well.


I have found that in order to write, I have to be in a space that allows me the freedom to express. For me, that includes quiet, focus, and a meditative state that invites my inner voice a place to be honored and to be heard. I try to allow at least part of one day a week to experience a “talking fast” so that I may rest my mind and settle inward.


What I offer personally at our Sharpsburg location is my background as an artist. Although I am also an actor, acting teacher, talk show host, and producer, what I bring to the retreat most fittingly is my background as a writing instructor. I primarily work with actor/writers who are interested in getting down on paper personal stories that have been dancing around in their heads. My writer’s workshops at the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival have facilitated writers in reaching down to the core of their being to unveil memories that resonate in both personal and universal truth. I have found sensory exercises that take the writer back to childhood are a fertile source to unlock stories begging to be told.


In Los Angeles, I have taught such workshops as “From Thought to Pen,” “Connecting the Inner Dots.” and “From Page to Stage.” In June of 2008, I will begin teaching solo writing classes at the award-winning Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. I welcome the opportunity to also serve my new bicoastal community as I begin to build relationships within its artistic world.


The progression of unleashing personal stories from the heart to the page, and ultimately on stage, has been an extremely rewarding journey for me. My own solo show, “I Am That I Am: Woman, Black,” is a historical journey through time sharing the lives of seven African American “sheroes” beginning from slavery with Sojourner Truth to present times and concluding with Maya Angelou. My one-woman show has zigzagged across close to forty U.S. states, and has crossed the waters to the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa. Though the stories in my one-woman show are not my own, they are personal stories of women I admire and who inspire me.


My first book, On My Own Terms: One Actor’s Journey is slated for release this spring. A cross between a memoir, an acting book, and an inspirational walk, I now look forward to working with writers at our Sharpsburg retreat who are also developing non-fiction narrative works.


I welcome women of all genres of writing to The Writers’ Retreat in Sharpsburg, Georgia. We will together give honor to the literary word and celebrate the creative voice as we also learn from one other.


You may contact me directly at or visit my Web site at






By Julia Shipley

I used to work at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont. Every month fifty artists would arrive by plane, train, and automobile with a suitcase full of ideas, and moments after unpacking, they would begin to paint, sculpt, and write. I envied the painters. On my way to the office, I would see them assembling their easels by the river, brandishing their slender brushes like magic wands. I, on the other hand, went into an austere room with the shade pulled down to write after work. One night, during one of the communal dinners, an artist boasted that he had spent the day painting water lilies on Lake Lamoille. “What did you do?” he queried me. My cheeks flushed. I had revised poems in my dim room. After the meal, I trudged home and flung myself on the couch with a book. I spent the evening reading Robert Bly who wrote, “It’s helpful if you are writing about the pine to go to the pine, or if writing about a tunnel go into the tunnel.” Ever since, I have noticed how difficult it is to write poems sitting at a desk.” 


I realized that night, that I could “paint” my poems from life. I could create my own “plein air” poems. So I began writing by the waterfall and at the basketball game. I held my black pilot pen like a sable brush and swished poems into my notebook. When winter came, I began setting up “still life’s” to examine things at hand: a piece of horn, an umbrella, a head of garlic, my father’s necktie, etc. After writing half a ream of poems about things, I realized I was participating in a well-established genre called the object poem. Rilke wrote some of his most memorable poems about a Greek sculpture, a panther, a vase of roses. He called this type of poem “diggendicht” or “thing poem.” Francis Ponge, a French poet, wrote a book of prose poems called “The Voice of Things.” In this volume, his attention roves from snails and slabs of meat to oysters and doorknobs. Robert Bly defines the object poem as a poem that “playfully describes or praises more or less ordinary things.”


For those new to poetry, or paralyzed by the need to say something new and profound in a poem, the object poem is a potent cure. The only requirement is that the writer observe, discuss, and address the object she has chosen. What a fantastic solution to writer’s block: to begin by describing something small and near, perhaps a potato, a skateboard, or a rubber duck.



Ponge, Francis. The Voice of Things. McGraw Hill: New York, 1972.

Bly, Robert. News of the Universe. Sierra Club Books: San Francisco, 1974.

Bly, Robert. What Have I Ever Lost By Dying? HarperCollins: New York, 1992.


Julia is a poet and writer. She teaches creative and critical writing at Sterling College in Vermont. As a Juried Artist with the Vermont Arts Council, she offers workshops in Vermont’s schools, libraries, and elder-care facilities in Poetry and Creative Nonfiction. 


Winner of the 2006 Ralph Nading Hill Award, her work has appeared in Vermont Life, Vermont’s Local Banquet, Northern Woodlands, Hunger Mountain Magazine, Rivendell Magazine, among others. Julia is currently completing a manuscript of object poems titled, The Family of Things.


She will open her writers’ retreat in Craftsbury, Vermont starting June 1, 2008.





By Mike Hoover

Well, here we are looking at another season at The Writers’ Retreat in Oliver, British Columbia, and it looks like it is going to be a great year. Today I am on my way to Penticton to place some more books at Okanogan Books, the independent bookstore on Main Street. I found since publishing my first novel that my life has taken on a bit of magic. First, when I finally overcame the annoyances of writing, editing, and publishing a book, I found myself in a huge ocean of books and not a clue of what to do.


The first bit of magic was an agent who somehow came across my book and offered me a contract (my first miracle). She submitted my manuscript to many publishers but no takers. “So what the hell,” I thought. “I’ll self publish, at least I’ll have a book and no one can take that away from me.”


Then from way out of my past I get a call to speak at a hockey fundraiser (I didn’t even know that I was a member of the first junior hockey alumni in North America). The main speaker at this fundraiser just happened to be the most famous sports personality in Canada and has his own national television show. And guess what? I will be a guest on his show in a month or so! (Magic or miracle, take your pick.) It will be up to me at that point to sell myself, but this is what I believe writers must do. It is just not enough to sit in front of your computer and bang out a hundred thousand words. With 80,000 rejection slips printed in New York every year, you must give it all you have and NEVER GIVE UP.





MAKING A GOOD SCRIPT GREAT A three-day script clinic in Cascade, Colorado


“The Writers’ Retreat in Cascade, Colorado, is a special experience. You will have your treatment or script analyzed for half a day. I spend about two hours on each project, and then we have input from the other writers in the group who learn through analysis of each other's work. Since we are a small group, we share lunches and dinners together, and one of the dinners is at my home. Some of you may choose to stay an extra day or two to write in the mountains. This is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and a high (in altitude and attitude) creative experience. I look forward to working with you.” Linda Seger


Facilitator:  Linda Seger, author, and script consultant.

Date to be confirmed:  September or October 2008

Place: Cascade, Colorado (Pikes Peak Region)



Online registration:

Questions and registration:  E-mail Linda Seger


WRITING IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL A three-day workshop in Folly Beach


Rarely do writers have the opportunity to slow down and go within to reach a wiser, deeper level. Spend three days on the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and explore your connection to nature and creativity, and the journey of your soul. Through guided imagery and spontaneous writing exercises, you will be revived, renewed and ready to write again.


Facilitator:  Mary Ann Henry, The Writers’ Retreat in Folly Beach, SC

Date: October 17-19, 2008 – for beginning and seasoned writers

Place:  Folly Beach, South Carolina


Questions and registration:  E-mail Mary Ann Henry





Tricia Callahan, a resident last summer at the Folly Beach retreat, published her first piece in the March issue of Slice magazine. The publication is available in several states (listing on Web site). “Thank you for your retreat program,” says Tricia, “I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to submit otherwise.”





We now offer 10 open-all-year retreats in Canada, United States, Costa Rica and Mexico.


Québec, Canada (Headquarters)

Oliver, British Columbia, Canada

The beautiful San Juan Mountains in Ouray, Colorado

Corralitos near Santa Cruz, California

Folly Beach, South Carolina

Craftsbury, Vermont opening June 1, 2008

Ojochal, Costa Rica

Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast of México


Please visit our Web site at and click on one of the locations for more details, or to reserve your private studio.


If you are contemplating a business opportunity in the literary world, contact us today to learn more about starting and operating a Writers’ Retreat in your area.



Micheline Côté, Executive Director

The Writers’ Retreat 

Telephone:  (819) 876-2065



January, 2008, Volume 8, No 1


A Happy New Year to All Our Readers!










Welcome back! I trust that each of you had a pleasant time with family and friends during the holidays. And, hopefully, you had a chance to escape for a few days from your daily chores.


One of the best New Year's resolutions we can make for ourselves (aside from laying off the junk food and exercising more) is to set writing goals for the new year. When we live the life of the anxious roadrunner, and always planning for the future, we miss the present. We overload our schedule and then complain there are not enough hours in the day to write.


Here are some popular writer’s resolutions—pick one or two and plan to put passion to your pen in 2008! The Writers’ Retreat is here to help you shape your vision into reality, so why not start now.

Step One: DECIDE how important your writing is to you and visualize where you’d like to take your writing. This first step helps create a target and provides a guidepost.

Step Two: BELIEVE IN YOURSELF to be able to make your goals a reality. If you tap into your power and capabilities, events and people will support you.

Step Three: TAKE ACTION and get moving; this is the final step to guarantee results.

Take small steps and be realistic about what you can handle. Do not give up if you do not move quickly enough, keep striving, and be sure to give yourself credit for doing what you can accomplish. 




1. Make time to write.

Finding time to write is the hardest thing for many writers, but if you’re committed to writing a certain amount of words each day or each week, or writing at specific times, you’re much more likely to get work done. (This is especially true if you tend to procrastinate. And who doesn’t, at least sometimes?)


For most of us, making time to write will always be something of a struggle. With friends and family, financial obligations, emotional issues, etc., it takes determination to make a writing schedule and stick to it. I’ve concluded that there is no easy answer, but there are concrete things we can do to make time to write.


Pinpoint issues that keep you from making time to write.

If you’ve always wanted to write and aren’t doing it, figure out the source of your writer’s block. Is it a fear of failure, a longstanding tendency to procrastinate, or something as simple as a lack of writing space? If the “block” is not immediately obvious, spend some time in the self-help aisle of a bookstore, or talk it over with a friend, a therapist, or life coach. As you begin to understand the things that prevent you from writing—whether internal or external—you can make a plan to overcome them.


2. Defy your writer’s block.

Renew your commitment to finding a way to overcome your block. Find out what’s causing your writing woes, and address it head on.


Most writers will have trouble with writer’s block at some point in their lives. The possible reasons for writer’s block are myriad: fear, anxiety, a life change, the end of a project, the beginning of a project … almost anything, it seems, can cause that particular feeling of fear and frustration. Fortunately, there are as many ways to deal with writer’s block as there are causes. The items below are only suggestions, but trying something new is the first step toward writing again.


Establish a writing schedule and stick to it.

Ignore the writer’s block and keep showing up to write, even if nothing comes right away. When your physical body shows up to the page at the same time and place every day, eventually your mind, and your muse, will do the same. English novelist, Graham Greene, wrote 500 words, and only 500 words, every morning. Five hundred words are only about a page, but with those mere 500 words per day, Greene wrote and published more than thirty books.


3. Complete an unfinished project.

Do you have an unfinished story or novel that keeps you from going on to new, more exciting projects? I can attest that unfinished projects are huge energy drains. Make a plan to get through them this year. You might even write your project goals on a calendar. You’ll find that you have a renewed energy for your writing once these old projects are off your plate.


4. Read more.

Are there classic novels you’ve always meant to read, but haven’t? Or some genre you think might inform your work in interesting or productive ways? Make a plan. It doesn’t have to be too ambitious, but set some modest goals for your reading life this year.


5. Keep a journal.

Though journaling is an art in itself with its own disciplines and satisfactions, many fiction writers rely on their journals for ideas and details. If nothing else, keeping a journal is a good way to ensure that you’re writing consistently.


6. Find a place to write.

If a lack of workspace is keeping you from writing, put this at the top of your list to change. Your resolution might also be to make your writing space more conducive to your work. Clean up the clutter; surround yourself with things that inspire you. Have a writing workspace you look forward to entering.


Strategies for finding a writing space.

Ideally, we’d all enjoy spending as much time as we want at a writers’ retreat to ensure uninterrupted writing time. However, for many of us, this just isn’t an option. But a lack of writing space should never keep you from writing. With a little determination and some creativity, you’ll always find some way to write.


If you can’t have an office in your home, settle for a corner in a room.

Set up a desk or table in a corner of the quietest communal space in your home. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a place you can sit and write. If you have roommates or family, find a time when everyone else is either asleep or out. That way you can be sure no one will interrupt you, or provide you with excuses to quit writing.


7. Finish the first draft of a novel.

If you've always wanted to write a novel, but have been afraid to attempt it, make this the year you finally do it. Don't worry if it's good or not, or if it's publishable or not. Just find a story you need to write, that only you can write, and write it. There's something valuable about sticking to something this big, about discovering that you can do it. If nothing else, you'll finally be able to cross this off your list of things to do in life.


8. Submit your work.

Once you know your work is fully polished and ready to submit, make a realistic goal about the number of submissions you want to do this year and stick to it. Stay focused on accomplishing your goal, though, and not on the result. Whether you become published or not, you can take great satisfaction in reaching your submission goal.


9. Try a genre or an art form you’ve never tried before.

Screenwriters, playwrights, and poets have a lot to teach fiction writers. You’ll find that you take the lessons of that genre back to your fiction. The same applies to other art forms. From photography, you’ll learn to pay attention to the visual world, and from acting, to put yourself in the mind of someone else.


10. Be easy on yourself.

Focus on what you accomplish this year, not on your failures. Writing is hard and getting published even harder. Beating yourself up doesn’t help anything. Reward yourself for having found something that you love this much and for sticking to it.


G. Wiehardt’s work has appeared in various literary journals, and her book of poetry, Compulsion of the Unlocked Thing, was a finalist in the Ohio State University/The Journal Book Award in Poetry. For the past four years she has worked in publishing, and has taught writing to adults, children, and high school students. Ginny Wiehardt is the fiction writing guide for 



So, if you want to get away in a quiet environment where you can work on your project with or without assistance, you’ve found the place! 


The Writers’ Retreat offers nine year-round retreat locations to choose from:

Québec, Canada (Headquarters);

Oliver, British Columbia, Canada;

Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast of México;

The beautiful San Juan Mountains in Ouray, Colorado;

Corralitos near Santa Cruz, California;

Folly Beach, South Carolina;

Ojochal, Costa Rica.


Please visit our Web site at and click on one of the locations for more details and to reserve your private studio.



Have a very creative 2008!


Micheline Côté, Executive Director    

The Writers’ Retreat 

Telephone:  (819) 876-2065







  |  Privacy Statement | Contact us |


The Writers' Retreat 

Each retreat is independently owned and operated.


To report any problems with this site contact

Copyright© 1998 Cote International and The Writers' Retreat - All rights reserved.