What Happens at a Writing Retreat?

The Madeline Island School of Arts

The Madeline Island School of Arts

“What’s all this about deep writing?” asked a client. “Why do I need to go on a retreat to write?” Going on a writing (or art) retreat is one of the biggest gifts you can give your creative spirit. Here’s a peek at what will happen at the Madeline Island School of the Arts this July 22 to July 26:

You arrive at Duluth, Minnesota and catch a van to Madeline Island, next to the cluster of the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior. The van takes you to the ferry in Bayfield, Wisconsin. (About 1 hour and 45 minutes). From Bayfield, you’ll take a ferry to Madeline Island (about 30 minutes).  The van takes you to the front door of the school.

211-1The weather in July will be about 75 F in the daytime and 55 F at night. You get around the island by walking or bicycle, although you can also bring a car or rent a scooter or bicycle. By the time you arrive, you’ve already become used to the peace and quiet.

You’ll find your room and check out the classroom, and then explore the island. The next day, you’ll meet me in the classroom for Metaphor and Magic: Mixed Media Conversations with Your Inner Critic.  The first day, we will talk about why you came, what you hope to get out of deep writing and expressive art. We’ll talk about the project we are going to work on–the writing, the art, the free-form pages, how we will make, gather and carry them, how to use the pages in brainstorming, planning, choosing ideas to follow.

You don’t have to know how to draw or write to take this class, you just have to bring your self, your experiences, your questions about what it is you are meant to do.

You will have brought your Inner Critic, and you can expect him (or her) to show up and yap. This class is about confronting your Inner Critic, taking on the voice of “never good enough” with the Inner Heroes you will discover over the next five days.

385167_407181399335781_1428142135_nOn that first day we will learn to trust each other, to make those first tentative experiments in meeting kindred souls who are also seeking connection.

On that first day we will also make Monsoon Papers and talk about who we are, who we wish we were, what we need to leave behind. In the afternoon, we will do our first deep writing exercise–a kind of writing that lets you get to the heart of who you are and how you would like to be heard. You may suddenly cry, or laugh, or discover a part of you that’s been hiding at the edge of your vision. Expect to discover yourself as you discover the island.

In the evening, you will explore the island and the restaurants available.

For the rest of the time, we will spend mornings together, learning a new writing technique and a new art technique. We will experiment and explore and uncover our Inner Heroes.

In the afternoon, you can explore the island, find a place to write, or return to the images-1classroom and try out what you learned that morning. I’ll also be available for private creativity coaching sessions. (There is no extra charge for using the classroom or the coaching).

On some days, we will share our ideas and our work, to learn from each other, to form the connections that deep writing and deep art encourage.

On the 25th of July, we will begin to gather our free-form pages and discover the many uses they offer. Sorting and creating spreads like you would Tarot cards, you will learn to use your newly discovered voice, your strength, your creativity.

Your time on the island can be a magical time of healing, of soul retrieval, of refreshment.

Please join me there for an unforgettable experience. The class tuition is $425, and you can register at MISA’s page with the class description. Most of your other questions will be answered on this page.

–Quinn McDonald is starting to plan for the metaphor and magic. She’s packing quite a bit of magic.

15 thoughts on “What Happens at a Writing Retreat?

  1. Hi. I wish I was closer so I could take your retreat (I am in New Brunswick, Canada). I am going to a poetry writing retreat here in a couple of weeks. It is helpful to be away from normal surroundings and concentrate on my writing. Jane

  2. I am seriously considering this and getting encouragement from co-workers and office manager…have never done anything like this; traveling by myself and doing something so…impractical…yet I know it would be an experience to remember. Wow. So much to think about and prepare for…I think I really want to make this happen.

    • Yes, that is a long trip for you. Even during winter holiday, but I would SO love to see you! (Hmmm, maybe there’s a class I can teach in your corner of the world.. . )

  3. I’ve not been on a writing retreat before but I have been to the Apostle Islands and I can say, it’s an absolutely beautiful area. Everyone should visit if they get the opportunity.

    The retreat sounds like heaven!

  4. Having done a couple of writing retreats I can say they were a wonderful, expansive and fertile experiences. The ability to dedicate entire DAYS to thinking about nothing but writing is so freeing. Letting the stories have their say, relaxing and jotting and walking and thinking and sharing and connecting to other like minded people from diverse backgrounds and interests. I hope yours is overbooked and filled with wonderful moments of discovery and freedom.

    PS – While on both retreats I found the Inner Critic oddly silent, perhaps frightened away by the combined positive energy of so many who supported and encouraged instead.

  5. Why give yourself a time to just be, to write, to leave the thoughts, challenges, joys and necessities of every day life behind, to give the writer self an unobstructed, nurturing gift of time? Oh Quinn, I could go on and on about how the decision to do just that bent my life as a writer forever. I have the little savings account gathering coin to once again gift my muse to another blessed writing centered retreat. In the waiting time I take every opportunity to join with others in the writing by prompt, topic, form and find amazing growth in my willingness to workshop my writing in the company of other writers. For your blog readers who have not yet been able to put aside the time and the funds for a writing retreat, I offer encouragement to consider giving yourself the time and space to find out just how much you can nurture and grow your writer self with such a gift.
    I send my personal thoughts and prayers to you, Quinn, as this adventure with writers at this special place sits ever closer in time; time where you and your learners will expand, explore and delight in finding more of what lives within that wants to bubble up and find its way down the arm and on to the page. Namaste, Kristin

    • I learn so much from every class, it is such a wonderful experience. And you are right–such an experience turned me to the gift of writing and changed my life forever. I’m so glad you feel the same way!

  6. For the fest of the time…what a wonderful Freudian slip. It says a lot about you, Quinn, that comes through in your everyday posts.

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