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The Great Escape: Writing Retreats!

By Susan Eberling & Angela Mackintosh

What could be more inspirational than packing your bags and laptop and heading off to a gorgeous locale where you have nothing but beautiful scenery and plenty of time to write? It seems like a dream, but it’s not entirely out of reach. Many of us take vacations at least once a year, so why not trade in one for a writing retreat that fuels your creative soul? You deserve it! I bet if you did, you’d come back more relaxed and refreshed...ready to take on the world. So, let’s see if we can tempt you with this eye-candy of possibilities. Enjoy!

Lighthouse Writers Workshop: Shadow Cliff Lodge – Grand Lake, Colorado

Nestled in the Rocky Mountains within view of majestic Grand Lake, this retreat offers writing workshops in the morning, afternoon activities, and nightly readings and social events.  The writing workshops cover fiction, poetry, memoir/essay, screenwriting, nature writing and other topics.  Time is given for quiet reflection in nature and also to explore the town nearby.

Accommodations:  Spacious rooms are offered to share at Shadow Cliff Lodge. Other lodging is available in town for those who desire a room to themselves.

Cost:  Workshops $425; Double-shared room: $350, Triple-shared room: $275.

Length of Stay:  5 nights

Writing Time:  Mornings and afternoons are for free-writing or attending writing workshops, roughly between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Contact:  Go to or call (303) 297-1185.

(Photo Left: Meeting room at the Shadow Cliff Lodge. To find out more about this eco-friendly mountain sanctuary, visit:

Write in Ireland – Anam Crè House – County Kerry, Ireland

The first day of this retreat offers workshops from Irish authors Niall Williams and Patricia O’Reilly on novel writing and the short story.  The rest of the retreat is given completely over to the writer to decide what to do with their time.  Sightseeing trips to the Runes of Kelly or the town of Kenmare are encouraged but not required.  Writers will get time away from their normal lives as they enjoy the comfort of the house, Anam Crè, or roam the rolling hills to find a spot to think and create.

Accommodations:  Participants stay at the Anam Crè house, named for two Irish words that mean soul and clay.  Each participant has their own bedroom and all cooking is done by host Marcie Miller.

Cost: $1,000 by August 1st; $1,200 after August 1st.  Includes workshops, meals, room and transportation from the town of Kenmare to Anam Crè.

Length of Stay:  6 nights

Writing Time:  There is abundant time to write during and after workshops.

Contact:  Go to or call Marcie Miller at 206-228-2924.

(Photo above (The Beara Peninsula) from the Write In Ireland blog: please visit to discover more about the retreat.)

A Room of Her Own (AROHO)—Abiquiu, New Mexico

Select women writers, who apply and are accepted by AROHO, will stay at Georgia O’Keefe’s famous Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico. The retreat focuses heavily on writing and discussion, while allowing time for individual reflection and the option to participate in outdoor recreation or visit nearby sites like Chimayò or the Georgia O’Keefe Studio.

Accommodations:  Most rooms are double occupancy with dormitory style baths; single rooms are available on a limited basis with a supplemental charge.

(Photo from A Room Of Her Own Website by Miriam Berkley: Cloe Dugger, New York, reads in the afternoon shade)

Cost: Fees are said to be moderate and there is the opportunity for scholarships.

Length of Stay:  5 nights

Writing Time:  The retreat is very writing focused.  Participants choose how to organized their time between writing, sessions and other activities.

Contact:  Go to

Patchwork Farm: Alma de Mujer – Austin, Texas

Patchwork Farm reaches out to the body, mind and soul of the writer through this combined writing/yoga retreat. The retreat focuses on getting past your inner critic while aligning your body to achieve an optimal state for tapping into your creativity.

Accommodations:  Shared accommodations at Patchwork Farm’s lodge near Lake Travis.

Cost: $605; late registration $665. Covers meals, shared rooms, materials and writing instruction.

Length of Stay:  3 nights

Writing Time:  Two to three writing and yoga sessions are offered per day.  It is up to you which and how many you attend. Patchwork Farm asserts that your time is your own while on the retreat.

Contact:  Go to or call 413-527-5819.

Blue Ridge Wildacres Writing Workshop Retreat – North Carolina

This is a week-long workshop for serious writers to write. Held on a mountaintop in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, the retreat offers a valuable learning experience with a top teaching faculty plus a variety of nighttime programs that will touch your hearts and make you laugh. Workshops cover: Children’s, Novel, Short Story, Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, Play/Scriptwriting, Murder, Mayhem & other Genres.

Accommodations:  Wildacres is a lodge building nestled atop the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The spacious two-bedrooms have private baths and three family-style meals that are served daily. There is an auditorium, library, dining room, meeting rooms, and a canteen where you may purchase soft drinks, snacks, postcards and T-shirts. Wildacres is a lovely retreat, not a hotel. Bed linens and towels are furnished but there are no maids or bellboys. Also, there are no phones, TVs, or radios in the rooms, but pay phones are in the lobby. Attendees should be serious about the art of writing.

Cost: $560 workshop fee includes shared lodging, meals, and manuscript critique. $315 retreat fee (for alums or workshop participants) includes lodging & meals.

Length of Stay:  7 nights

Writing Time:  The retreat is very writing focused. Small classes of 10 students, workshops in AM and PM alternating.

Contact:  Go to

Fifth House Lodge Retreat – Portland, ME

Fifth House Lodge is a year-round retreat for writers located one hour west of Portland in Maine’s lake and mountain country. The lodge sits on a high hill with views to the surrounding mountains and countryside. It is a place of extraordinary simplicity, beauty and peace.

Joan Lee Hunter, director of Fifth House Lodge, is a writing coach who leads personalized writing retreats for individuals with group writing workshops throughout the year. Both beginning and seasoned writers come to Fifth House Lodge. All share a fundamental desire to deepen the writing experience.

Accommodations:  Built as a tourist lodge in the 1930s, Fifth House Lodge is a self-contained environment that offers twenty acres of woods and fields. The lodge itself consists of a living room with cathedral ceiling and massive fieldstone fireplace, large kitchen/dining area, open deck off the kitchen, and a screened-in sun porch. It has sleeping accommodations for 8-10 people.

Cost: $275-$675. Lodging at Fifth House Lodge is $80/night.

Length of Stay:  2-5 days

Writing Time:  Workshops focus on the writing process & include at least five writing sessions (writing/reading aloud/feedback) during a two-day workshop.

Contact:  Go to

Itching for more retreats? We covered six other women-friendly writing retreats in the December Must Haves Column.

Plus, check out this issue for more fabulous retreats and interviews from the founders and faculty:

Chautauqua Writer’s Workshop

Elizabeth Ayres Center for Creative Writing Retreat

Would you like to write about your favorite must-haves? Drop us a line. Let’s continue to inspire each other to reach our dreams!


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