Raising Our Voices, Writing Our Lives

Our goal in Ashlar writing retreats is to create an environment where the Story that Wants and Waits to be told can be contained with care, flourish and where wounded will heal.  This work builds resilience, well-being and greater creative expression and a richness in experience. You will develop skills that carry into everyday life beyond that of telling your story.

The Helpful Writing Are Here.  

Our retreats and classes began nearly 30 years ago as an experiment and challenge to disprove the common idea that nobody could be taught to write – that  you had to be, Lady Gaga-like, “born that way” – the best to be done for 43would-be writers was to help them refine and craft what natural writers did…and put up with those who were not gifted at birth.  But wait a minute; it is never too late to be gifted at birth. 

I was and am a passionate writer myself and love the feeling, sensation and music of writing and over the years discovered  natural processes that I came to call the Helpful Writing Spirits.

What I have to share is what those Spirits have taught me -- Writing Through The Body.  Writing in this way is powerful enough to extend into your life in many surprising and wonderful ways that you will not have anticipated.

The story that emerges will often surprise you as it is different than the story you want to tell. This is to be celebrated.  Surprise is the experience that you will be waiting for.  And be curious toward what comes to you.  Don't judge until you have written it all. And if your story is difficult, we can help you write your way to a good place.

As the stories take shape and you gain confidence, you will have an opportunity to participate in The Word Jazz Theater, where your stories are publicly performed.  Oh no, you say, I can’t do that.  I say, wait and see if this true.  For some people this is exactly what they want after they have some confidence in their writing. it is an act of Witnessing that is a valuable  human experience.  

The week before one of my 3 day writing retreats, I rented a black box theater and at the end of the weekend we did the first improvisational theater and the results were very exciting. And so the Theater aspect of the writing program remained.

Additionally, you will learn how to run a group yourself.  We encourage people continuing the writing groups after the retreat and give you a structure that carries the work.  One of our groups has gone on for over twenty years with different leaders and the last one, we were told was led by someone who used the methods I taught in the original workshop and yet, this leader doesn't know we exit. Validation we say.

So, if what you have read resonates with you or leaves you curious, come to a retreat.  Manifest the possibilities that are yours. What you will learn could change your life. 

And that is our point: Witnessing, creating, play and fun -- are quite possible even when the story is tough.

A wonderful thing about writing groups, is that you get to the depths you reach in writing alone and still you are together in a supportive and interactive community.. 

As a participant you will learn: 

  • To access the creative source from which Story emerges.
  • Writing through the Body.
  • The role of Curiosity and Surprise
  • To process stories of severe stress to resolution
  • Deep Listening and Presence in group members
  • Embodying the personal story -- how to help a reader free her voice when she is not inside of the story. 
  • Work through conflict -- in yourself or with others
  • Learn to lead, to become a Narrative Arts Facilitator
  • Create a structure through which the story writing/telling process continues beyond the workshop.
  • Word Jazz theater -- build a performance piece that integrates the stories gathered at the workshop, yours alone or as part of a group.