Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Writing Retreats: An Experience and an Invitation

By Pamela Nowak

Writing retreats…they beckon some of us and frighten others. Each is unique and the decision to retreat or not to retreat is deeply personal. 

There were several factors that were key in my retreat selection.  With limited funds, I considered only retreats that were small in number that would feel comfortable, would have workshops with real benefits for me, and that would be worth the expense. Ireland Writer Tours fit perfectly.

The group was limited to twelve participants, a manageable number for my social level. As well, I was well acquainted with the teaching skills of both instructors. Their strategy of learning the needs of each participant and tailoring their topics to fit our needs appealed to me. Finally, this retreat was in Ireland, a place on my travel list, and it included workshop days and touring days, all for a very reasonable price. Sure, there was airfare but I would have the chance to see Ireland as well as experience a writing retreat. I could add on extra days to see more of the country and non-writer traveling partners could be included. Hotel and many of the meals were included. Dollar for dollar, compared to other retreats I had looked at, this was a great value.

In fact, Fiona Claire, owner of Ireland Writer Tours planned the retreat exactly to offer the experience I was looking for.  Her goal was to combine tour sights that were favorites with travelers with workshops and editing offered by authors teachers. “My dream is that these retreats/conferences/tours (they’re actually all three combined) will be a huge boost for all the participating writers. I want them to leave Ireland feeling like they’re not only better writers, but they’ve also just had the best time of their lives.” 

I returned home feeling she had accomplished just that.

My trip began with extra days in Dublin, seeing big-city sites, museums, and getting a feel for the country. Then, I travelled to Galway for the retreats itself. Our touring days were filled with medieval abbeys, ancient stone circles, castles, and magical forests. We saw ancient burial mounds, the famous Cliffs of Moher, and visited the Aran Islands. There were pony-cart rides, pubs with thatched roofs, and dinner at a haunted castle. In between, there were days packed with writing workshops tailored to meet our special needs, feedback on our manuscripts, and one-on-one interaction. We spent time writing alone and socializing with fellow writers. Projects were jump-started and friendships cemented. 

For me, the experience was rewarding and unforgettable…so much so that I accepted an offer to return in June of 2016 as an instructor (please note the April 1 registration deadline!). I’m hoping some of my fellow Colorado writers will join me. If you’ve thought about retreating, I encourage you to take a deeper look at Ireland Writer Tours.

More information about the tours can be found on the tour website:

Pam Nowak will be teaching in Ireland this summer through the Ireland Writer Tours program. This week-long retreat in June will feature days of touring alternated with days of writing workshops and individual editing attention from two published authors. The retreat pricing includes all guided tours and ground transportation, private accommodation, many meals, ferry fees, entrance fees, all writing classes, private conferences with the author/editors and editing of manuscript pages. Pam’s session, scheduled for June 5-15, is titled, CHOOSING YOUR PATH: CRAFT, CAREER & PUBLISHING. She’d love to see some familiar WWW faces there and encourages members to share details with others who might be interested. Registration for Pam’s session closes April 1.


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