Ten Ways to Get the Most from Writing Prompts

Ten Ways to Get the Most from Writing Prompts

Gwynn Scheltema

At the recent Just Right at Glentula Retreat, we used a number of writing prompts. Most writers have tried them at some point in their writing journeys. Some love them; some not so much. I find them invaluable. I’ve used written, verbal, visual, and textural prompts. I’ve even used smell and taste prompts.

Some writers resist prompts, because they feel that their writing time is limited and they should be writing the “real stuff.” But remember that “completing the prompt” is not the object. The goal is to get you writing, to get you writing what has the most energy for you, and to lead you into your writing project.

How do you do that?

Follow the energy

Often when you begin writing about the subject of the prompt — say swimming in a lake — it can take you  somewhere else — say an experience of drowning or crab baskets in Italy or how your father never believed in taking vacations. Go there. Forget the prompt and go where the energy is.

Prompts unlock memories and experiences, and when you write honestly about them, about how you felt, what you observed, and perhaps even capture some of the dialogue that was spoken, you can take that piece and adapt  it later for your “real” writing.

Prompts are not precise nor prescriptive.

Understand the possibilities of “You”

Prompts often use the pronouns “you” or “your”: “Write about your greatest fear” or “Imagine yourself beside a body of water…” Of course, you can write about your own experience, but you can also approach it as if you are one of your characters. And not just your protagonist or your viewpoint character. Often it is more revealing to pick your antagonist, or a minor character.

Switch it up

Try the same prompt from two different characters’ points of view. If the prompt says “What’s your favourite colour?”, get your character to answer. What colours does she/he have an aversion to? Perhaps you don’t know. Write about the fact that you don’t know that about your character. Why don’t you know? What else don’t you know? Or have characters answer that question about each other. What did your protagonist’s mother think were his /her favourite colours? How did that play out in your protagonist’s life? Did the mother always dress your protagonist in blue for example?

If you are a memoir writer, remember that the people in your life are your characters; they are just called Mom, or Dad or Great Aunt Mabel. And like a fiction writer, you can stretch by writing as if you are another character.

 

Prime the Muse

Prompts take you places you don’t expect, but I’ve also found them useful for getting into scenes that I was planning to write. Start by identifying a scene in your story you want to work on. For instance, you might want to do a scene where one character makes the first show of affection towards the other. Using the prompt “What’s your favourite colour?” as a line of dialogue could take you to a scene at a fair or in a mall where he is buying her something, or in a garden where the flowers are in bloom, or just in the kitchen choosing a coffee mug.

Write what you know  

The facts of your life may not be the stuff of wild imaginative novels, but your human reaction to events is as valid as any character in any novel. Perhaps you haven’t been in a dugout canoe in the Amazon Jungle, but you know how it feels to sweat. You also know how helpless you can feel in a strange place. Could the feeling of being swept down the river with the jungle crowding in also feel like being swept along in a crowd at a frenzied rock concert or at busy subway station? It’s not the facts from your life that connect with readers, it’s the emotions and commonalities.

The Senses

Like the things you feel, what you see, hear, touch, taste and smell also relate to what we all know. When writing from prompts, the senses will always ground you and lead you forward. Make use of ALL five senses. Also consider the temperature, the quality of the light, time of day, the weather, the seasons, the historical period.

Move into Metaphor

When you have considered the senses, move into metaphor. Ask yourself: What does this remind me of? What is it like? What is it not like? Explain it to someone who’s never seen, heard, touched, smelled or tasted it before. What would a child relate it to? What would your character compare it with?

Be specific

As you write, imagine being in your scene. Notice and write about specific sensuous details: not “a car” but “the dented yellow Edsel-Ranger taxi.” Write about unusual details, incongruous details. Write about what’s missing. Imagine the scene with and without people — general people, specific people. Listen for snatches of remembered or overheard conversation.

 

Opposites

Turn the prompt around and do the opposite. Substitute “hate” for “love”, try “old” in place of “young”, use “like least” instead of “favourite”. Write using both approaches and consider the similarities or juxtapositions created. If you can’t remember, start with “I don’t remember.” If you’ve never experienced the prompt, say singing for a crowd, start with “I have never sung in front of people because …” or “I have never sung in front of people but I have …”

Lists

Sometimes a topic seems too big to approach with authenticity. For instance, if the prompt asks you to write about someone you fear, and you’ve always feared your father, you may not feel comfortable diving into writing about him. Instead make a list of all the people you fear. Try to make the list really long. The items you add to the list last are often the ones buried deep. At the end of your list may be a kid from grade school. Write about him. Chances are you’ll find you feared him for many of the same reasons you feared your father.

Or make a list about all the emotions you feel about your father, and write about any one of them.

Give it a go

Prompts have been the source of many of my “keep” scenes. I may end up only using a portion of what I wrote, perhaps just one paragraph, but the prompt usually takes me where I’ve been resisting going and anything that gets me writing is a good thing.

Need a prompt now? There are lots of online sites. Here are a few for fiction, non-fiction and poetry:

Now, go and write, write, write ….

DID YOU KNOW

At Writescape retreats, we provide optional creativity sessions to tickle your muse and a companion work book full of prompts and ideas to take your writing to places it hasn’t gone before. Join us at our next retreat: Turning Leaves 2017.

Writing Plan Meets Real Life

Writing Plan Meets Real Life

Just a few short days ago, at Spring Thaw 2017, a group of writers tucked themselves away in cozy cottages on the shores of Rice Lake. It’s what Writescape loves about our retreats: the creative energy that comes to writers when the natural world helps them dive deep into their words.

We also know that keeping that energy alive becomes a challenge when bags are packed and the road home is inevitable. So our retreats include built-in tools to help with the transition back to reality. A themed companion workbook offers pages of prompts and inspiration during the retreat and continues that role as needed. A wrap-up session is designed to ease the goodbyes and help with ideas, commitments and plans to “keep the words coming.”

About those plans. They can be general intentions or itemized lists and firmly set timelines. But then reality rears its own set of lists and timelines. Writescape retreat alumnus April Hoeller left Spring Thaw with firm plans that came to a halt the day after returning home. She shared what happened on her blog “What I’m thinking today,” and how she took a roadblock and turned it into a bridge back to her writing. With her permission, we reprint it here:

Guest blogger: April Hoeller
Monday Moanings – May 1, 2017

It’s raining.
It’s pouring.
This old scribe is…

Well, what is she up to on this first day of May?

Get out your smallest violins because I’ve got on a pair of whiney pants for this Monday Moaning.

What, pray tell, is the point of having a plan, a specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based strategy for getting things done, when something as simple as a telephone call can render it so irrelevant so quickly?  Let me be clear – nobody died or was diagnosed with cancer, or lost a job. World War III has not broken out, though that has been a haunting concern of mine for a few weeks now (a whole other blog!). There is nothing tragically wrong. My world is still turning at a great clip but it’s just not doing so according to my plan.

I arrived home last Tuesday afternoon from an amazing writing retreat.

The most productive retreat ever

I found the doorway into a section of the memoir that I’ve been struggling to get a grip on for months. I not only plotted out my way through it, I also committed some 5000 words to paper, half of the chapters. Woot! Woot!

I am indebted to Ruth Walker and Gwynn Scheltema, the dynamic duo of Writescape, for their encouragement, companionship, and occasional goading.

… and a good sense of fun too!

Indispensable to the retreat is the energy and inspiration that blossoms when a group of writers gets together for a weekend. Good conversations, suggestions, laughter and affirmations abound. A big thank you to all of you!

 

 

Homecoming

I arrived home all fired up, ready to move forward at good pace. I had a plan too – always an important part of a retreat. So there I sat Wednesday at the harvest table in my kitchen with pens, paper, and mind ready, at 1 pm – right on schedule. And then the phone rang.

I ignored it, letting my guy answer it, while I put pen to paper. A whole sentence emerged. With great satisfaction, I tapped a period at the end. The next sentence was spoken by my husband.

“They want to start work on the solarium next week.”

I capped my pen and closed the book. No words have been written since. The solarium construction was not scheduled to begin until the end of June. Nowhere in my plans for the coming week, or even the coming month was there any reference to “The Solarium.” But the contractor had a cancellation and our name rose to the top.  We have been able to put them off for two weeks – because we’ve got prep work to do, none of which was on our radar – until last Wednesday.

 

What’s a writer to do?

This is not a derailment. It’s just a layby in a siding to let a construction train through.

So, throw off those whiney pants.

Make another plan to write my way between, around, over, through the interruptions.

Just think, in a few weeks I’ll have another writing space!

Cheers!

Did You Know?

You can read more of April Hoeller’s words on writing, travel and life at What I’m thinking today, her online blog.

Thanks, April, for reminding all of us that while life may happen (and it always does) we can find ways to keep close our writing goals. A writer needs to be ready to return to the page. Writing time is precious. Don’t waste it.

Writescape retreats are held spring, summer and fall, and deliver inspiration and support for writers.

 

 

Sharpening your creative edge

Sharpening your creative edge

Gwynn Scheltema

This weekend, Ruth and I spent a few hours with a motivated and talented group of writers in St. Catharines. Some were beginners, some seasoned professionals, but all of them dived in and challenged themselves and took creative risks. It was thoroughly energizing.

boots on rail lineWriting is, for the most part, a solitary act. Sometimes lonely, sometimes blissfully peaceful. But I find that too much alone time as a writer is not always good. Yes, I might get more written, but it can also sometimes skew my writing perspective.

I can get rooted in bad writing habits, forgetting to use fundamental writing skills I have used before. My writing challenges can start to feel insurmountable. Or I can relax into my writing comfort zone and stop taking risks…dulling my creative edge.

Being with other writers this weekend, feeling that energy that emerges when writers get together, reminded me that I need to build that into my writing life. I also need to hone my creative edge by deliberately taking regular creative risks.

So how can you take regular creative risks and re-energize?

Give voice to non-POV characterseyes-141363_640

Write a scene from a non-POV character‘s perspective. This reminds you that each character has their own motivations. You don’t have to use the piece you write, but in the act of writing it, that character may give you insights about your regular POV character or about the events in the scene. Perhaps there are even connections to other characters you were missing.

Approach description differently

addict-84430_640Challenge yourself to use visual description sparingly, and increase the use of the other senses instead. Try also to limit scene description to just two or three details. (And make sure that the details are ones that the characters would naturally notice and not just things the author wants the reader to notice.)

 

Use prompts

Using prompts forces you to come at things from different entry points. They stimulate memories and experiences that can be adapted to fiction and can be a springboard to new ideas. Here are three links to get you started.

Freefall writestamp-895380_640

Freefall writing is one of the best and most satisfying ways I know to stay ahead of your internal editor and left analytical brain and give your right creative brain and your subconscious a chance to surface. By writing without stopping for a set time, and having no expectations of what will be written is extremely freeing, and time and time again I’ve seen wonderful writing emerge from the practice.

Get together with other writers
Dining at Turning Leaves
Dining at Turning Leaves

Even if you have a wonderful writing space at home, getting together with other writers to write is a different and energizing experience. I live next to a lake, but look forward to going on retreat whenever I can. It allows me to “leave the world behind” for a short while and concentrate on being creative. Being with a group of people who understand the writing world is invaluable and seeing others around me writing motivates me to write too. Try it. Join Ruth and me at our annual fall retreat Turning Leaves 2016 this November.

 

 

 

 

In Conversation with…literary agent Hilary McMahon

In Conversation with…literary agent Hilary McMahon

Hilary McMahonToday, we chat with Hilary McMahon, Executive Vice President of Westwood Creative Artists (WCA), one of Canada’s oldest and most respected literary agencies. Hilary maintains an extensive and diverse list of adult and children’s writers. She also represents WCA authors on trips to American and British publishers and the Frankfurt and London Book Fairs. 

Why did you become a literary agent?

I earned a degree in journalism and English, but soon realized that I wanted to read other people’s stories far more than I wanted to write or teach. I’m an obsessive book reader, an extrovert interested in people and relationships, and a tough negotiator with a head for details and numbers. This job allows me to combine all those different skills.                                                                                                    

books-20167_640 (1)Being an agent is a tough job. So what is it that has kept you in the field for more than 20 years?

Nothing compares to the magic of being engrossed in a great book. I love being part of the process that begins with an idea or rough manuscript, and ends with a finished product that can be shared, enjoyed, discussed around the world. And working with writers can certainly be challenging at times, but it’s never dull…

If we were to spend some time in a typical day with Hilary McMahon, what would it look like?letters-286541_640

That’s one of the many wonderful things about this job, there is no typical day! It’s an illusion that I read all day. Today for example, I have reviewed a section of an author’s revised novel and then shared it with an interested publisher, worked on some blurbs for our Frankfurt catalogue, checked a film contract and sent it off to the author, given a non-fiction author feedback on her proposal, spent time crafting a tactful rejection letter, done the deal memo for a middle-grade series I’ve just sold, addressed a picture book writer’s concerns about the illustrations for her new book, and followed up on some projects out on submission. I had hoped to make a dent into my towering pile of submissions but I don’t know if I’ll get to it…

What do you like to see in a query from a writer? And is it different for a fiction versus a non-fiction query?

You’d think it’s obvious, but I need to see excellent writing! A skillful, original, compelling pitch.

For fiction, you need to hook me with a brief description of the work and draw me in with a short sample. It certainly doesn’t hurt if you include some details about places you’ve been published and any relevant awards or education.

For non-fiction, your expertise in the field is going to be important, to me and to publishers – I need to know that you have some authority about your subject. Most simply, I need to be compelled to move from the query to a writing sample.

hand-861275_640What is the one piece of advice you want writers to know once they land that elusive agent?

That just because you have an agent it doesn’t guarantee your work will sell! There’s still a lot of hard work ahead, but at least you aren’t doing it alone.

What are you reading now and how do you feel about it?

I’m reading a really intriguing submission, clever and sparely written and definitely original in story and in the telling.  But I’m still trying to decide if it’s something that I could sell…

If time, place and money are no object, who is the one person or character you’d like to have dinner with…and why?Jane Austen

I’d love to have dinner with Jane Austen, after she’d spent a bit of time in 2016 – I would love to hear her take on this modern world!

Want to get up close and personal with one of Canada’s top literary agents? Come to our fall retreat, Turning Leaves 2016.

Hilary is our special retreat guest, joining us for meals, evening chats and sharing insights and expertise in a Saturday morning workshop on catching and holding an agent’s attention. She’ll also review Turning Leaves 2016 participants’ query letters in advance and hold private one-on-one feedback sessions.

 

Returning from Retreat: Reality

Returning from Retreat: Reality

THE IDEAL

person-110303_640I will go on retreat and when I come back, I will be energized and my writing will be brilliant.

We all start a retreat with optimism, plans and hopes and dreams. But on the drive home, or maybe just as you turn the handle on your front door, something hits you.

It’s over. The planned escape to focus on your writing is done and here you are, back home, facing all that your return will mean. And it ain’t always pretty when you once again face reality.

portrayal-89189_640Some of us easily get past that return to reality and can gather back the positive energy we found on retreat. But others might get mired in one or more of the following disappointments:

  1. NOTHING HAS CHANGED

Right on. Once you add the laundry in your suitcase to the pile you didn’t finish before you left, you realize your life waited for you. And there is no escaping it.

  1. YOU DIDN’T DO ENOUGH ON RETREAT

That’s right. You lazy, good for nothing writer. You spent time staring out the window at the lake or the forest or the desert or…whatever. And some of the stuff you wrote is so lame, you won’t even look at it.

  1. THE RETREAT DIDN’T HELP YOUR WRITING

Oh yeah. This is just like the diet you started in January. Your 3 lb loss turned into a 5 lb gain in April. You are just the same writer you were when you started, so why did you even bother?

THE TRUTHtruth-166853_640

  1. MUCH HAS CHANGED
  2. YOU ACCOMPLISHED FAR MORE THAN YOU REALIZED
  3. YOU ARE A DIFFERENT WRITER

 

PROGRESS IS NOT ALWAYS RECOGNIZED

Don’t look at that laundry pile the same way. Consider that t-shirt you wore on retreat before you put it into the washing machine. It’s full of your writer’s sweat and you can launder that out. But even if you deleted every single word you wrote, you can’t wash your retreat away. Instead, those words you crafted will percolate in the back of your mind and two things can happen:

  • ONE, you’ll realize the writing wasn’t so awful after all. In fact, those words are looking pretty good again

OR

  • TWO, those less-than-perfect words will inspire fresh ones that will move your work forward (after all, we all know the true work of the writer is in the edit)

FEEDING YOUR CREATIVE SELF

anvil-1169340_640Even if you did very little writing, your retreat was not a waste of time because everything you experience flavours your creative self. Sometimes, we don’t recognize the new ideas and perspective a retreat gives us.  Chats over dinner with the other writers, quiet walks down country lanes, staring out the window at a completely different view — all of this has an effect on you and your writing. While it’s not bum-in-chair writing, it is a legitimate form of creative work. You’re feeding your subconscious.

Your subconscious is your best friend as a writer and none more so than when your main purpose is to create. That’s why you went on retreat in the first place. When you come home, your ugly Internal Editor may perch again on your shoulder whispering negativity into your ear, but your Creative Self is still being fed by your subconscious.  And it’s rich in retreat compost.soil-766281_640

So turn your back on any negative thinking. Start digging into your retreat compost and see what treasures are buried in your mind. And follow that energy!

For more on retreats, see Ruth’s post on preparing for a writing getaway.

Writescape retreats this summer and fall:

Just Write at Glentula. July 15: 3 or 5 day retreat, Perfect for the budget-minded writer seeking a lakeside all-inclusive escape.

Woods, Water and Words. August 21. A one-day writing adventure at beautiful Glentula in Northumberland County. Lunch & dinner included.

Turning Leaves 2016. Nov 4 – 6. with special guest literary agent Hilary McMahon. All-inclusive, optional workshops, and a fireplace in every room at the Fireside Inn at Fern Resort on Lake Couchiching.

Registration for Turning Leaves 2018

Registration for TURNING LEAVES from November 2 to 4, 2018.

Note: Writing Organization Discounts are offered to members of WCDR, WCYR, WCSC, HHWEN, SOH, TWUC, PWAC, MAA and CAA. Other groups please query.
NOTE If you have attended 5 or more Writescape residential retreats, you qualify for a special one-time $100 discount for this retreat. When you register, be sure to note it in the comments so we can adjust your full payment.

 

  • To secure your spot with a non-refundable deposit. Go to Section 1
  • To pay the full amount on registration. Go to Section 2
  • The balance is due by September 1. Go to Section 3
  • To register for the day rate. Go to Section 4.

Please note that HST will be calculated at checkout. HST # 821104853RT0001

Section 1 

Non-refundable deposit

$250.00 Lakeview Room Single Occupancy  FULL

$250.00 Landview Room Single Occupancy Deposit

$250.00 Landview Room Double Occupancy Deposit    Note: If you have a preferred roommate, please enter the name of your roommate in the comments section on the PayPal screen or email us at info@writescape.ca. If you don’t have a roommate, we will do our best to accommodate you but can’t guarantee double occupancy.

Section 2 

Lakeview Room Single Occupancy  FULL

$895.00 Full Fee Lakeview Room Single Occupancy

$865.00 Full Fee Lakeview Room with Writing Organization discount [WCDR etc]

$835.00 Full Fee Lakeview Room with Writing Organization AND alumni discount

Landview Room Single Occupancy

$865.00 Full Fee Landview Room Single Occupancy

$835.00 Full Fee Landview Room Single with Writing Organization discount

$805.00 Full Fee Landview Room Single with Writing Organization AND alumni discount

Landview Room Double Occupancy

Note: If you have a preferred roommate, please enter the name of your roommate in the comments section on the PayPal screen or email us at info@writescape.ca. If you don’t have a roommate, we will do our best to accommodate you but can’t guarantee double occupancy.

$795.00 Full Fee Landview Room Double Occupancy

$765.00 Full Fee Landview Room Double with Writing Organization discount

$735.00 Full Fee Landview Room Double with Writing Organization AND alumni discount

Section 3

Lakeview Room Single Occupancy FULL

$645.00 Balance Lakeview Room Single Occupancy

$615.00 Balance Lakeview Room with Writing Organization discount [WCDR etc]

$585.00 Balance Lakeview Room with Writing Organization AND alumni discount

Landview Room Single Occupancy

$615.00 Balance Landview Room Single Occupancy

$585.00 Balance Landview Room Single with Writing Organization discount

$555.00 Balance Landview Room Single with Writing Organization AND alumni discount

Landview Room Double Occupancy

$545.00 Balance Landview Room Double Occupancy

$515.00 Balance Landview Room Double with Writing Organization discount

$485.00 Balance Landview Room Double with Writing Organization AND alumni discount

Section 4

Day Rates

(complete weekend program except for breakfasts and accommodations)

$475 Day Rate

$445 Special Day Rate with writing organization discount

 
PLEASE NOTE: When you hit the “Add to Cart” button, the PayPal order will show up at the top of the column to the right. To be taken to PayPal to finish your purchase, click on the yellow PayPal button. You can use a credit card on the PayPal site – you do not have to have a PayPal account.
 

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Turning Leaves 2017

Turning Leaves 2017

November 3 – 5, 2017

Vicki Delany: One woman crime wave comes to Turning Leaves

With more than 20 books to her credit, Vicki Delany is a fearless full-time writer, tackling the adult, reluctant reader and YA markets with her mysteries, suspense novels and police procedural titles. Past Chair of Crime Writers of Canada, Vicki is also a member of Capital Crime Writers and Sisters in Crime. She writes as Vicki Delany and Eva Gates.

Enjoy a Friday evening fireside chat with Vicki and a Saturday morning workshop where more than the secrets of writing a great mystery will be revealed. All stories need a mystery at their heart.

Here’s a brief excerpt from her author’s bio: In 2007, Vicki took early retirement from her job as a systems analyst with a major bank and sold her house in Oakville, Ontario.  At that time In the Shadow of the Glacier, the first book in a police procedural series set in the British Columbia Interior was published. After travelling around North America for a year with her dog, Shenzi, she bought a home in bucolic, rural Prince Edward County, Ontario, where she rarely wears a watch and can write whenever she feels like it.

Interview with Vicki

Turning Leaves 2017 brochure

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN

A $250 non-refundable deposit will secure your place in this retreat. 

At Turning Leaves, we build a retreat for the writer and the writing:

  • workshops to fire up your pen
  • creativity and group sessions to inspire you
  • private, uninterrupted writing time in cottage country setting
  • tailor your retreat to suit your needs
Chatting over dinner in the Heritage Dining Room
Chatting over dinner in the Heritage Dining Room

 

Turning Leaves 2016 with Hilary McMahon

Meals and accommodations:

  • lakeview dining in the Heritage Dining Room
  • private or shared accommodation in Fern’s Fireside Inn
  • rooms have wood-burning fireplace, fridge, free WiFi
  • Fern Resort is 90 minutes from Toronto in a quiet bay on beautiful Lake Couchiching

Resort amenities:

  • indoor pool, Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna
  • exercise room
  • nature trails, outdoor jogging track
  • spa treatments (by appointment, extra charge)
  • onsite pub (additional charge)

Fees 

  • Lakeview Room Single Occupancy $875
  • Landview Room Single Occupancy $845
  • Landview Room Double Occupancy $775
  • Day Rate $475

Discounts

  • Retreat alumni $30
  • Members of writing organizations $30

REGISTER NOW A $250 non-refundable deposit will secure your place in Turning Leaves 2017

PLEASE NOTE: When you hit the “Add to Cart” button, the PayPal order will show up at the top of the column to the right. To be taken to the secure PayPal to finish your purchase, click on the yellow PayPal button. You can use a credit card on the PayPal site – you do not have to have a PayPal account.

Questions? info@writescape.ca

 

Spring Thaw 2020 Reloaded

Spring Thaw 2020 Reloaded

NEW THIS YEAR: Your choice of a 3-day, 5-day or 7-day retreat.

October 16-18, October 16-20, October 16-22, 2020

 

Looking for writing time? Polishing a project? Looking for feedback from two professional editors? Or just want time to rejuvenate your creativity? Don’t miss Spring Thaw Reloaded. Rescheduled to the fall, so instead of delicate crocus and sunny daffodils greeting you, it will be stunning autumn leaves and flocks of birds gathering for the long flight south.

This all-inclusive writing retreat is held at the fabulous Elmhirst’s Resort on Rice Lake in Keene. Stay for the weekend or treat yourself to an extra two or even an extra four days of writing.

    • 10-page manuscript evaluation with written feedback from Gwynn and Ruth
    • one-on-one consultation with either Gwynn or Ruth
    • private writing time
    • optional daytime creativity sessions to fire up your pen
    • a companion workbook with inspiration, prompts and supports
    • optional evening activities to network and share ideas and inspiration with retreat colleagues
    • private room in comfortable, fully equipped cottages with  fireplace
    • first-class amenities and delicious meals
    • add one of the Extend-Your-Pen options and treat yourself to focused writing time October 19 & 20 or October 19, 20, 21 & 22.

Brochure 2020

Your weekend, your way

…amazing feedback!; free writing time; workshops & group activities; lively discussions with other writers…

Spring Thaw participant

Program Room
Program Room

Tailor your weekend to suit your needs.There is an agenda and formal programming, but you choose which sessions and activities will work for you.

Write in your jammies

Sunrise photo of cottage at ElmhirstWriting in-cottage

Cozy cottages are well-stocked for your breakfast. Enjoy your private room with shared living areas including living room, full kitchen and bathrooms. Those who want to hunker down and write don’t need to surface until lunch.

Dinner with a view

Dinners are a delight in the lakeside dining room. Elmhirst's Sunday Brunch

Special dietary needs are always accommodated with advance notice.

The Sunday brunch at Elmhirst’s Resort is legendary and a highlight for many of our retreat participants.

Questions? info@writescape.ca // 905-728-7823

Register Now

Discounts available for Writescape retreat alumni and members of writing organizations

3-day option $945         5-day option $1370         7-day option $1815

Cottagers and area residents — send us an email for the Spring Thaw Day Rate: info@writescape.ca

Cancellation-Policy-Useful-Information-ST

When payment is received, a Writescape representative will contact you by email to confirm your registration. Thank you for registering with Writescape.

Just Write! at Glentula

Just Write! at Glentula

Three or Five days to Just Write!

If you want a retreat that won’t break the budget, try this three- or five-day getaway at Glentula on the shores of Lake Seymour just over an hour east of Durham.

Montage with words -- The many lovely faces of Glentula

Be inspired

Nestled in the forest, on the shores of Lake Seymour, Glentula offers peace and inspiration. Five acres of forest and walking trails, streams and lake, gardens, gazebos and secret hideaways. And inside, a bright workroom, book-lined study, or your own private room give plenty of options to write in.

Be supported

Gwynn is onsite and ready to support your writing. She is available for consultation and chats each afternoon. After-dinner readings give participants an opportunity for group feedback. Optional warm-up writing sessions and activities are available each morning.

Be comfortable

Glentula is a private cottage home with single and double occupancy rooms. All your meals and snacks are provided. This intimate retreat is open to a maximum of five participants: 3 single room (double or queen beds), 1 double occupancy (twin beds). Registration includes accommodations, meals and all-day access to beverages and snacks.

Your Just Write at Glentula retreat program includes:

DAY ONE:

  • 10:00 am: Arrive and settle in; explore the grounds, or start your writing right away.
  • 11:00 am: Introductory session to meet your fellow writers, and find out what’s on offer. Warm up your pen with a few creative writing exercise and sharing.
  • 12:30 pm: self-serve lunch in the dining room: hot soup or crockpot fare, breads, cheese, salads, fruit & cookies
  • Afternoon: Private writing time. Explore situation-themed prompts drawing inspiration from the woods and the lake available at “Inspiration Stations.”
  • 5:30 pm: Cottage-style BBQ dinner (dine al fresco, weather permitting); Group readings, feedback and discussion or writerly activities.

DAY TWO:

  • 7  to 9 am: Self-serve breakfast: hot or cold cereal, fruit and juice, yoghurt,eggs, toast, muffins and bagels.
  • 9:30 am: Warm-up writing prompts and freefall, followed by silent writing time.
  • 12:30 pm: self-serve lunch
  • Afternoon: free time to write or relax. Situation-themed prompts drawing inspiration from the woods and the lake available at “Inspiration Stations.” Gwynn available for one-on-one discussion of your writing project.
  • Evening: sit down, three-course dinner. Group readings (at the campfire, weather permitting), feedback and discussion or writerly activities.

DAY THREE:

  • 7  to 9 am: Self-serve breakfast
  • 9:30 am: Warm-up writing prompts and freefall, followed by silent writing time.
  • 12:30 pm: self-serve lunch
  • Afternoon: free time to write or relax. Situation-themed prompts drawing inspiration from the woods and the lake available at “Inspiration Stations.” Gwynn available for one-on-one discussion of your writing project.
  • 4 pm:  Closing session.

Next dates available:  Summer 2018. Contact info@writescape.ca 

Registration:

3 Days: $385

5 Days: $545

PLEASE NOTE: When you hit the “Add to Cart” button, the PayPal order will show up at the top of the column to the right. To be taken to PayPal to finish your purchase, click on the yellow PayPal button. You can use a credit card on the PayPal site – you do not have to have a PayPal account.

HST will be charged at checkout. HST # 821104853RT0001

Getting There:

Glentula is at 101 Morningside Drive, Havelock, ON. Click here for directions.

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