Writing Retreats

(We currently don’t have any writing retreats scheduled for 2013. Check back later to see if any are scheduled.)

I’ve always been intrigued by the story of Thomas Merton (1915-1968), the well-known Trappist monk and prolific author. One of the things that fascinates me most is the explosion of writing that erupted from his pen once he entered the monastery. He was bright, talented, and creative in his pre-monastic days but was also dissipated, unfocused, and unorganized. But all that changed at the Abbey of Gethsemani. It was as if the fire in him needed the “hearth” of monastic life in order to burn brightly: rising at the same time daily, participating in communal prayers at prescribed hours, doing manual labor between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., and having the afternoons to write … day after day, week after week, and so on across the span of his life. Once the strong and steady rhythms of his day were were firmly established, his writing took off.

The “big idea” of this retreat is to help writers (aspiring and established) build momentum for their projects (books, essays, poetry, theses, dissertations) and move them toward completion. We’ll create a hearth for the fire: meals at set times, prayers (morning, midday, evening, night) and mutual encouragement. I’ll function as an abbot of sorts, orienting the group, leading the prayers, and being present at meals, and enjoying the open evening time with you. All you have to do is write, and if the thought of that brings tears to your eyes, you should probably sign up now.

Merton at his writing tableEach writer will have her / his own private room with a big writing table. (We have Wi-Fi, so any research you may need to do on the internet is covered.) The rooms are spacious, uncluttered, clean and comfortable (with their own heating/cooling controls).

Understand that if you come, you’re agreeing to the schedule for meals, prayers, and the idea of writing in community. Just repeat to yourself, “Structure is my friend.” (If you want to follow your own writing schedule and take your meals privately, feel free to schedule a personal retreat for a different time.)

Good coffee — we’re a little picky in this area! — and tea will be available early in the morning and through the day. We’ll also have fresh fruit, nuts and other healthy snacks for you to enjoy when you need to take a short break from your work.


The schedule varies by according to the kind of writing retreat: normal weekday, weekend retreat or reserved retreat (for George Fox Seminary students.) In all cases, arrive anytime after 5:00 p.m. on the eve of the retreat so you can get settled in your room and oriented to the space. Writing retreats begin with morning prayers & breakfast on the first day and end with the noon meal on the final day (see below). Writing retreats will end Friday with the noon meal. Participants should be packed up checked out of rooms prior to lunch on the final day.

Normal Day
08:00-08:15 morning prayers
08:15-09:00 breakfast
09:00- 12:25 writing

12:30-12:45 midday prayers
12:45-01:30 lunch
01:30-05:55 writing
(this is a 5-hr. stretch, so you’ll probably need a walk and/or nap break to stay productive)

06:00-06:15 evening prayer
06:15-07:30 dinner
07:30-09:00 free time
09:00-09:15 nighttime prayers (compline)
09:15 enter into The Great Silence

Final Day
08:00-08:15 morning prayers
08:15-09:00 breakfast
09:00- 11:30 writing
11:30-12:00 pack up and check out of rooms

12:00-12:15 midday prayers
12:15-01:30 lunch … this marks the conclusion of the writing retreat
01:30-02:00 departures

Think of the open evening time as the reward for having given yourself to the craft of writing during the day . The evening is open for drinks, dessert and conversation about life and writing. Writers might like to share excerpts from their day’s work, talk through a problem or impasse, get feedback from others, or just wind down and put writing to bed until the next day.


Monday-Friday/Saturday Retreats: $450 … $150 deposit
(This covers 5 nights, 14 meals, snacks, killer coffee & outrageous tea, and the priceless benefit of a writing community.)

Friday-Sunday Retreats: $250 … $100 deposit
(This covers 3 nights, 8 meals, snacks, killer coffee & outrageous tea, and the priceless benefit of a writing community.)

To reserve your spot, first email Jody (jody at sustainablefaith dot com) to verify that there are openings for the retreat you’re interested in.  Then go to our secure server and select “special event”. In the comment box please write the dates of the particular writing retreat you’re signing up for.


Monday – Friday Retreats
We currently don’t have any writing retreats scheduled for 2013. 

Monday – Saturday Retreats*
(*reserved for George Fox Seminary D. Min. candidates only)
We currently don’t have any writing retreats scheduled for 2013. 

Friday – Sunday Retreats
(For details on these, please click here.)
We currently don’t have any writing retreats scheduled for 2013.

To reserve your spot, please email  jody at sustainablefaith dot com.

Looking forward to a great time of spilling ink,
Dave Nixon

School of Spiritual Direction

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