NEKLogoSmallThe Writers’ Retreat Newsletter

April 2010, Volume 10, No 2


In This Issue







Upcoming workshops


April 30-May 2, 2010: Fiction Writers’ Workshop:  Exploring the elements of fiction

Cost:  $175; partial scholarships available.

Location: Foley Beach, South Carolina

Register online on our workshop page email Mary-Ann Henry



October 6-7, 2010: Script Consultant Clinic  (see

October 8-10, 2010: Screenwriting Clinic: Making a Good Script Great

Cost:  $800+

Location: Cascade, Colorado

Register online on our workshop page or email Linda Seger




A remarkable opportunity to transform someone’s writing!


What is exactly a residential writers’ retreat? What matters for a successful retreat? What are the requirements to operate your own writers’ retreat, the criteria? Do you want to earn a living or to transform someone’s writing?


If you already thought about it, you are just a few steps away – believe me! It is only a matter of putting it all together – and I am here to help you!  You may need some kind of guidance if you are starting from scratch or you might just want to share your thoughts to make sure you are on the “write” track and you take the “write” turns! Again, that’s why I am here!


Some of the residential retreats for writers are located in beautiful natural settings where writers are pampered with rich creative environment, good food, comfortable studios, ample technology, and access to professional editors and mentors. Do you think you could replicate this with your budget and the property you have in mind? Of course, you can. I will show you how, and guide you all the way to success – as long as your passion remains alive. I will even share marketing strategies with you.

I am excited by the possibilities of innovative literary projects, and by the prospect of serving more writers at more locations.  I welcome your participation in creating a broader choice for our community of writers, so drop me a line soon at or call 819-876-2065.

- Micheline Côté, The Writers’ Retreat.

Shape your Vision into Reality with The Writers' Retreat! 



We are proud to announce the opening of a new residential retreat in Hopkinton, Rhode Island this June. 


The Writers’ Retreat at Panther Orchard Farm is a beautiful large home nestled into 43 acres in southern, rural Rhode Island. The house is situated on a private estate surrounded by meadows, fields, orchards, woods, a pond, and of course, New England stone walls. This is the perfect retreat for writers who seek a private, comfortable, rural sanctuary in which to bring their literacy vision to fruition. Panther Orchard Farm is located near historic Hopkinton, 45 minutes south of Providence, RI and a quick 20 minutes from ocean beaches or local shopping areas.


Retreat operator Lynne Anderson is a professor of education at the University of Oregon and Director of the Oregon Writing Project, one of 200 sites in the National Writing Project Network. She has more than 30 years experience working with writers of all ages. An area of special expertise is the adoption and integration of technology applications and online resources to support the writing process.


For more information or to secure your private studio, please contact Lynne Anderson at or visit her Web site at The Writers’ Retreat at Panther Orchard Farm.





In these busy times we quite often neglect the most essential and helpful source of wisdom that makes us unique and allows us to shine with our own light: Our higher self.


To see with clarity what that higher self needs, sometimes we need to get some distance from our daily routine. Whether you feel a vague sense that something is lacking, or you sense that you need to reconsider your priorities, or even to change your values, a retreat might offer you the time and the space to connect with your essence and get clarity about which path to follow.


At the completion of your retreat, not only will you have gained wisdom, insight and experience, but you will have regained an essential resource to fulfill your creative calling: inner strength.


If you have been thinking of taking a retreat but you are still hesitating, consider these benefits:


1- Time to contemplate


Any action must first be conceived, and this type of contemplation is a natural by-product of a retreat.


A retreat invites you on a journey into your inner self, it allows you to maintain communication with who you are, it takes you to a deeper sense of connection with the self and it helps you to align your thoughts with your actions.


2- Time to rediscover who you are


When the habits and social structure to which we belong to limit our deepest being, it is time to stop, to retreat and to reassess who we are, emerging afresh.


There are many techniques, therapies and activities that provide us with that reunion with who we are, and taking a retreat in nature is one of them. It greatly facilitates the flow between our inner self and our outer actions, taking us closer to our nature as creative human beings.


3- Time to rediscover your love for others


When we find peace within ourselves and we acknowledge, love and respect ourselves as we are, then we rediscover our love for others. We re-learn how to consider and appreciate others as human beings who deserve our confidence and respect. These are things that are sometimes forgotten in this stressful life.


4 - Increase vitality and improve health


Living within nature, it is so easy to order the cycles and rhythms that all animal beings need to regulate. You will experience improved sleep, oxygenation, digestion and vitality.


5- Increase confidence in life


By rediscovering who we are, our love for others and the respect we feel for all beings, we increase our confidence in life and recognize the common bond among us.


Something about living within nature helps us to let go of all the judgement and fear that seem ever present among humans. Let go of already set modes, prejudices, forms and structures.


6- Increase clarity


Taking a retreat allows us to get distance from our daily routine and see the essence of what we want in life. It helps us to place ourselves in a more objective approach between who we are and what we are called to live, to find inner peace by understanding that we are living our part, the life we consciously choose to live.


A first version of this article originally appeared in the VOICE, the newsletter of the International Association of Coaching (, in April 2010 and is reprinted with permission.


Jabier Ans is a sculptor and the founder of The Jabierans Retreat in Castellón, Spain, a sanctuary for those seeking peace and tranquility. It is nestled in the Castellón mountains with views of the Mediterranean sea and surrounded by stylish sculptures beautifully integrated within nature. Jabier can be reached at




By Lynda Stear


Many years ago, I attended a writer’s conference and heard a presenter say that if one studied a subject of interest for at least four months, one was then considered an expert and could write and speak with authority about the topic.


This particular writer had taken a subject that he knew nothing about, educated himself, wrote about it, and then was called upon to speak until he was so tired of talking about his well-versed subject, that he had to move on to something else of interest!


Some years ago, I heard about a very expensive French sailboat that was wrecked under a bridge in transit to the Southern Ocean Racing Conference sailboat racing event in St. Petersburg, FL, and I wrote a story about how the boat was repaired just days before the race.  I knew absolutely nothing about this race, but knew a deck hand who knew the owner, and I not only got my story, but also, a lot of information about maxi-sized sail boats.  The article showed credibility and was picked up by a regional sailing periodical, but it did not take 4 months to study how to use a transit to align the mast of this fine maxi sail boat.


Study time depends on subject matter:


I do not know whether there are any scientific studies that would confirm that four months is the magical number of months to become an expert, but this writer certainly had a point.  I personally think that it depends upon the subject matter, for more time might be required to study a very complex and controversial subject, and one might become more of an expert by experiencing the topic of interest, ie, visitation to a homeless shelter or to a toxic dump, or one might need to take a course on the subject, etc. 


I took a few graduate courses in clinical research to prepare myself for regulatory writing, and am soon to enroll in another theology course for some of my future religious writing.  What do you need to do to become an expert on your subject?


As a nursing professional, and at a time when the HIV/AIDS epidemic first became apparent, I attended a medical conference for physicians where there was more than cursory information about the subject.  I also read as many relevant journal articles written about this new epidemic, and narrowed my search and writing to women and children with HIV/AIDS.  I also volunteered to take care of infected patients and attended HIV/AIDS support groups. From this process, came an exhaustive bibliography for my most significant journal article, and then I wrote short spin off articles from my base knowledge. 


A variety of options ensued:


I eventually video taped women with AIDS whom I knew, and used the video to educate nurses and nursing assistants.  As time went on, I was called upon to give mandatory HIV/AIDS education in the hospital and homecare settings, and presented educational contact hours on the topic for nurses in a junior college setting.  


But, like the other writer, hours and hours of education on the topic got old after a while, and it was a relief to move on to orthopedic, pulmonary, and cardiac rehabilitation and writing educational materials for this specialty, which eventually led to teaching nursing professionals about these subjects.


You do not have to be a medical professional:


One does not have to be a medical professional to write about medicine.  I just happened to be a nurse, but the writer I had heard many years ago was making a point – when you study a topic, at some point, one becomes more knowledgeable than the potential reader.  Writing for a professional journal required me to have a nursing background, but writing for the public in medical or non-medical publications with a very sound knowledge of your medical topic, just might land you an assignment. 


Lynda Stear is a medical and freelance writer/writing mentor and educator.  She can be reached at The Spring Creek Retreat of Macungie, PA or by e-mail at She welcomes you at her retreat in Macungie, Pennsylvania.   




By Lynne Anderson, Ph.D.


Earlier this year I was traveling from my home in Eugene, Oregon to Panther Orchard Farm in Rhode Island. Flying out of the Eugene airport means a mandatory stop to change planes at least once – in Portland, Denver, or San Francisco – and usually twice.  This time it was San Francisco – which I secretly embraced as it afforded a chance to browse in a favorite bookstore. The selection is fantastic, the staff suggestions are diverse, and I never fail to find something to enhance the remainder of my trip. On this occasion I picked up Amy Tan’s The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life (2003). Not a new book – but one I hadn’t read. I was enthralled from the beginning. As you might suspect – Tan reflects on her growth as a writer, first as a young girl hooked on books and later as an award-winning, bestselling author of novels with a Chinese backstory. With candor and wit (and a fair number of personal detours embellished with family ghosts) she gradually reveals how becoming a writer was no accident, not something that happened while trying to be someone else (despite her mother’s plans to the contrary). I love reading the work of writers who write about writing – and especially the stories describing their unique paths into (and sometimes out of) lives that revolve around words. 


For this reason, I always loved reading the New York Times occasional column entitled “Writers on Writing”, in which American writers shared some critical tidbit about their own lives as authors, or explored some literary theme embedded in their work. Commissioned by journalist and novelist John Darnton, who wanted to hear other writers talk about the craft of writing, the series ran for several years and produced 63 essays, which were ultimately published by Times Books in two volumes, the first in 2001 and the second in 2004.


The authors are incredibly diverse, sharing little more than the title “writer”.  And their essays on writing are similarly diverse – revealing unique histories, attitudes, approaches, goals, fears, and needs. In Time Can Transform the Fantasies of Youth, for example, Russell Banks describes the day his official story of how a depressed, 21-year-old drop was transformed into an author, came face to face with a gangster who knew the real version. Jane Smiley also writes about transformation, but in the context of the “improvisational exuberance” of reading her drafts to an attentive, intimate audience – and how that experience transformed her writing from an act of secret construction to an act expressing love.


Annie Proulx reveals how “the need to know” leads her to stop frequently at yard sales, collect books thought worthless by their original owners, tune into local radio stations, and go almost anywhere in search of authentic details. In contrast, Richard Ford suggests that not writing (and “goofing off” while doing it) is essential for recharging his muse. The “ritual -- cease in order to resume -- has always seemed to me to be an aesthetic, possibly even a moral postulate.”


If you haven’t read this series of essays by writers on writing – or you have, but not recently – I highly suggest checking out the collection at the New York Times website where the complete series is archived online. (


In a similar vein, but on a smaller scale, I like reading the pithy, often revealing excerpts about how authors view the writing process. A wonderful collection of quotations about writing can be found at the Quote Garden. Here are a few – which will hopefully wet your appetite for more. (


If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad.  ~Lord Byron

When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing.  ~Enrique Jardiel Poncela

The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.  ~Agatha Christie

It seems to me that those songs that have been any good, I have nothing much to do with the writing of them.  The words have just crawled down my sleeve and come out on the page.  ~Joan Baez

There's nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.  ~Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith

If I'm trying to sleep, the ideas won't stop.  If I'm trying to write, there appears a barren nothingness.  ~Carrie Latet

If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.  ~Toni Morrison


To reach Lynne Anderson, owner of The Writers’ Retreat at Panther Orchard Farm in Hopkinton, Rhode Island, email




By Adilah Barnes


Spring is my favorite season of the year. 


As I take stock of my natural surroundings at this time, I am visibly reminded of new beginnings in my every day environment. I am soothed as I pay close attention to the changes in nature.


I witness trees return to their vibrant shades of green, I see grass boldly reclaim its natural color, and I exhale through my senses the beauty of flowers as they gracefully and quietly make their presence known through a burst of vibrant color and organic fragrances.


Because March is also my birth month, I also start my year anew during this time.


As writers, we also need to jumpstart and start anew from time to time.


We need to periodically embark on a new writing project, or just dust off a writing that we may have put aside due to lack of time, writer’s block or whatever reasons we may use to justify not picking up the pen again.


If you are a writer who is feeling stuck, uninspired or are just plain procrastinating, perhaps one way to get back to your writing is to schedule an appointment with yourself.  This may mean scheduling a regular time and sacred space to allow spirit to speak, even if for only 30 minutes. It could be lunchtime at work, just before going to bed, and it can be any quiet space that beckons you.


This may mean choosing to write every day, every other day, twice a week, only on the week-ends, or maybe just ONE day a week for 30 minutes.


It is not the amount of time we choose to write, but rather the consistency in our writing.


Our personal agreement to write ritualistically may open the door to begin to write more and more as time goes on. It may even be journaling on a regular basis that allows us to begin to freely express ourselves again.


It can be that simple.


If you are having writer’s block, you may want to use sensory exercises to get you back into the swing of giving voice to your work. For example, writing only one page of stream of consciousness writing using a childhood sense memory can be a very fertile playground to begin getting the juices flowing again. It may be a memory that involves a familiar sound from childhood, a smell or even something that you remember the taste of from childhood. Making the sense memory a familiar one may allow the writing to flow with more ease because it will be easy to remember in detail what comes to you.


This exercise can have a remarkable effect in terms of unlocking both memory and emotional recall. I often use sensory exercises when I teach writing workshops and have actually seen students guided my an exercise take off in their writing -  be it the start of a new story, memoir or even a one person show.


Like others, you may begin to free yourself up through the use of memory. You may be led in a way that invites you to venture far beyond where you imagined this exercise might take you. I urge you to try sensory writing and see where it will take you. You may be pleasantly surprised where your journey will take you.


Enjoy your new beginnings as you write this spring!


To reach Adilah Barnes, email or visit her Web site at The Writers' Retreat in Sharpsburg, Georgia


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