A Cornucopia of Great Books To Read On Thanksgiving | Writer’s Relief

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A Cornucopia of Great Books To Read On Thanksgiving | Writer’s Relief

While feel-good Christmas stories already seem to overflow bookstore bookshelves, there are still some great Thanksgiving stories worth reading! Writer’s Relief found this list of the thirty-one best Thanksgiving books at The Oprah Magazine website.  You’ll find books for every age, from picture books like Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet, to books for adults like There There by Tommy Orange.  Start a new Thanksgiving tradition by sharing some great reads with family and friends!

See the full list of Thanksgiving-themed books here.



4 Things We’re Most Thankful For Right Now | Writer’s Relief

4 Things We’re Most Thankful For Right Now | Writer’s Relief

During the craziness of this year (and there’s been plenty!), it may seem hard to come up with reasons why we should be grateful. It’s too easy to focus on what we don’t have and can’t do, rather than what we do have and can do. But at Writer’s Relief, we know it’s important to take a moment to remember that there’s still a lot of good in our lives! As we head into the holiday season, here are just a few of the things we’re most thankful for right now.

What We’re Most Thankful For


Perhaps you’re participating in the NaNoWriMo challenge, or you’ve been filling the extra hours with writing short stories or poetry. Whether you consider the big events in the world or the flora and fauna right outside your window, there’s a lot to inspire your writing! Who knew toilet paper could lead to an existential crisis, or that neighborhood deer use your garden as a shortcut? Reading the works of other writers is also a great way to improve your own skills and inspire your writing. Writing prompts are another good source of inspiration, and you’ll find some wonderful visual prompts here.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”—C.S. Lewis

“This is how you do it: You sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”—Neil Gaiman

Good Food

You can’t talk about Thanksgiving and the holiday season without talking about food! This year the turkey may be a little smaller and some people may be joining the meal via videoconferencing, but you can still enjoy good food with your loved ones. Along with all the delicious desserts, remember to sneak in a few tasty, healthy snacks to fuel your writing energy!

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”—Virginia Woolf

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” —J.R.R. Tolkien

Friends and Family

The stress of spending extended time apart is taking a toll on many people. Now more than ever, distant socializing with a phone call or a video chat is very important. Making connections with family and friends even if you’re apart will help with your overall mood and reduce your sense of isolation. If you are able to meet in person, be sure to follow safety guidelines.

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”— Maya Angelou

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Reasons to Smile

Even in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, babies are born, good books are published, and some really funny cat videos are trending. Making an effort to see the sunny side of things will help boost your mood—and your immune system! Plus, it will make those holiday gatherings with grumpy Uncle Frank and chatty Aunt Meg more pleasant if you can crack a joke or a smile. Keeping a gratitude journal during trying times will help you become more aware of the good things around you.

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”—Voltaire

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”—e. e. cummings

By focusing on reasons to be thankful right now, you can give your creativity a boost—try looking for the silver lining and write about a positive future! Remember, a new year with new opportunities isn’t far off.


Question: What are you most thankful for right now?



55 Incredible Writing Retreats to Attend in 2021

Since COVID-19 has drastically changed the world we live in, many of these retreats may be canceled, postponed or moved online. Check with each individual retreat for details.

Dream of getting away to write, but need some guidance on the next steps for your novel?

Want to meet and work with other writers, but in a more intimate setting than a writing conference?

A writing retreat might be just the ticket.

Why you might want to attend a writers retreat

Whereas writing residencies are mostly about working in solitude, and conferences focus on networking and lectures, writing retreats fall somewhere in between.

Most are in beautiful locations (where, presumably, your creative juices will flow more easily), and offer a combination of workshops, tours and interaction with a small group of writers.

They’re a great way to combine a vacation with inspiration, networking — and, of course, lots of writing.

They can be pricey, but some offer scholarships (so always ask!), or consider creating your own writing retreat with friends.

And remember: A writer’s retreat is an investment in your career, as well as an opportunity to get away. If they’re out of your price range, then perhaps a writing residency would be a better fit. Or, check out this list of grants for writers.

Incredible writers’ retreats to attend in 2021

The writing retreats below take place in 2021 — and are organized by location, in order from least to most expensive.

(Hint: If there’s a particular country or month that works best for you, command-F to search the page for it.)

Unless otherwise noted, the prices include workshops, shared accommodation, activities and most meals. None include airfare to and from the destination.

If your chosen retreat has already happened, don’t despair; click through to check out next year’s dates, as many of them are annual affairs. And the same goes for if one has been postponed for 2021 due to COVID-19. 

Please keep in mind that The Write Life team has not attended these retreats. While we’ve gathered as much information as possible to share with you, consider this a starting point, and do your own research before committing. To ensure you’ll have an enjoyable experience, we recommend reading testimonials and reviews, or asking the host to connect you with past participants.

USA & Canada

1. Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Retreat

If you’re a fiction writer looking for a quick and affordable getaway, this retreat might be for you.

Set at the Franciscan Retreat Center of the Colorado Rockies from March 11-14, 2021, it offers workshops, critiques and readings. The organizers promise you’ll “find inspiration in the natural beauty that will surround you.”

The retreat has a handful of Facebook reviews, with Diana Williams writing, “Everything – the people, the training – I am so impressed!” and Hillary Rose adding, “RMFW is a quality conference! Great teachers and keynotes every year. If you are going to invest in a writing conference, this is the one to choose!” 

Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: TBD; 2020 costs ranged from $299–$399 per person. Or $65 per day if arranging your own lodging. 

2. Willow Writers’ Retreat

This three-day retreat in Americus, Georgia offers quiet time away to immerse yourself in the writing process, plus a supportive group to cheer you along.

Guests stay at the Americus Garden Inn, a gorgeous B&B with sumptuous breakfasts, and retreat events are across the street.

Willow Writers’ Retreat is facilitated by Susan Isaak Lolis, a published and award-winning writer. Attendees have access to workshops, including one with creative writing instructor Margaret Harrington, plus a reading on the last evening to celebrate your work.

Cost: TBD; 2020 rate was $280 before Jan. 31, $300 before Feb. 10, $350 before Feb. 24. Attendees reserve accommodation separately, tapping into a block of rooms at the Americus Garden Inn. You can also add a one-on-one manuscript critique for the first 20 pages of your novel, short story or creative nonfiction essay for $50.

Official 2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Disclosure: Willow Writers’ Retreat is a partner of The Write Life. We hold our advertisers to high standards and vetted this retreat just like the others on this list. 

3. The Genuine Writer’s Retreat

For all you east coasters, this four-day, three-night retreat in Annapolis, Maryland, is a great option to consider. 

From September 10-13, 2021, authors Lia Mack and Jeannette DiLouie will lead “group write-ins” and workshops on everything from elevator pitches to the ins and outs of creating a manuscript. You’ll also get a one-on-one session with DiLouie, who’s a professional editor. If you’re tight on cash and local to the area, you can even sign up to attend just for one day. 

Though verified reviews are limited, Cathryn Mullen, a two-time participant wrote this on the retreat’s Facebook page: “The Genuine Writers Retreat is an [sic] lovely cozy writing retreat with plenty of time to write and chat with other writers. The one-on-one sessions with Lia and/or Jeanette are amazing. If it wasn’t for them I might never have gotten out of my writers block and finally publish [sic] my first novel!”

Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: TBD; 2020 costs ranged from $425–$1,095 per person, based on occupancy and booking date (does not include lunch). 

4. Find Your Story: A Therapeutic Life Writing Retreat for Older Women

Are you in the second half of your life? Are you a newbie writer who wants to tell your story? Then this women-only retreat in Dallas, Texas was designed for you. 

Over the weekend, psychotherapist and writing coach Jennifer Westrom will help you get started (or unstuck) when it comes to your memoir. 

After attending Westrom’s writing class in 2018, Cherri Julia Maker Ridingin wrote on Facebook: “Jennifer is a strong leader in a soft way, highly intuitive, and an outstanding teacher. Class three is next week, and already I feel that I have released some blocks that were preventing me from moving forward in my writing. Her lessons have touched me deeply.” 

The retreat planned to be held September 14-15, 2020, but it was cancelled due to COVID-19. Although it’s been rescheduled for 2021, you should keep an eye out for detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: TBD; 2020 rate was $795 per person. 

5. Writing With Care

Picture a charming converted church by the ocean in Newfoundland, and something like Ochre House Retreat comes to mind.  This retreat welcomes a small group of creative artists from all disciplines and welcomes participants to “unwrap their writing and their experience of writing.”

Under the guidance of “extraordinary” instructors, you’ll discuss writing techniques and tools, as well as “the place of writing in one’s life.”

“This is an amazing treasure, a gem, the best,” wrote Bernardine Stapleton in a 2017 Facebook review for Ochre House. “The Writing With Care retreat really WAS all about care, thought, being gentle, and guiding the participants.”

Official 2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: TBD; 2020 costs ranged from $1113-1525 CAD ($851–$1166USD) Meals and accommodations included.

6. Writing Round the Trees: A Transformational Writing Retreat

At this Colorado retreat located near the San Juan National Forest, you’ll “immerse yourself in the wilderness and your writing.”

Using her background in publishing, editing and astrology, host Cassandra Leoncini will lead you through workshops, one-on-one sessions and experiential ceremonies, all the while gaining inspiration from Lilith, the “ancient Tree of Life spirit who seeks embodiment and dramatization in our lives.” 

There aren’t a lot of public reviews for this retreat — though one written by Madonna Kettler on Facebook said, “Great people, great food, and plenty of time to create and BE!” 

Official 2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more. If you don’t want to wait, contact Leoncini to get on the mailing list for 2021!

Cost: TBD; 2020 rate was $800 per person for a private room plus daily meals. 

7. The Writer’s Cruise

Cruise your way to writing success and sail to beautiful destinations with Melinda Copp, a ghostwriter, developmental editor and writing coach. 

Along with a small group of writers, you’ll attend workshops on creative writing, getting published and productivity. On your days in port, you’ll have the chance to explore gorgeous beaches before reuniting with the group for dinner. Best of all: When you’re on the boat, you’ll be free from distractions, ready to do what you came to do — write! 

“One of the most exciting parts about working with Melinda was gaining momentum,” Amy Menna said in a testimonial on Copp’s site. “Melinda was a resource that helped me get my thoughts from my head to the paper… Without Melinda’s program, I would never have had the motivation to move forward.”

Official 2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: TBD; 2020 costs ranged from $827–$1,056 per person (when booked before December 13, 2019). After that, rates rise $200 per person. 

Disclosure: The Writer’s Cruise is a partner of The Write Life. We hold our advertisers to high standards and vetted this retreat just like the others on this list. 

8. Writers Who Run, Retreat & Race

OK, so this retreat isn’t happening in 2021, but if you’re reading this late in the year, take note it will be running (get it?) again in April 2022 in the mountains of northeastern Georgia.

After a two-mile run each morning, you’ll have a full schedule of workshops, critique groups, writing time and social events. The culminating event is a scenic 5K and 10K race on Saturday morning!

For testimonials, check out these YouTube videos from past participants. 

Official 2022 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: TBD; 2019 costs ranged from $1,400–$2,400 per person.

9. Retreat & Create

A new offering from The Write Life founder Alexis Grant, this retreat will be held in the beautiful, historic mountain town of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, about an hour from Washington, D.C.

This retreat is for women only, and it’s a small group, about 10 attendees. It’s not just for writers; it’s open to all career-focused women who need space and quiet to focus on their work. 

In addition to plenty of work time, the retreat includes an easy-to-moderate hike each morning and a group dinner each night at a local restaurant. Grant emphasizes on the website that all activities are optional, so you can choose to be energized by group conversations or dive deep into solo work time.  

Official 2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: TBD, but the cost includes four nights accommodation, three meals a day, hikes and a massage.

10. Autumn Writing Retreat in the Berkshires

Let autumn in New England be your muse on this five-day retreat with Page Lambert, an instructor of creative writing at the University of Denver’s graduate school.

From October 17-21, 2021, you’ll stay at a historic inn, participating in group writing sessions and individual manuscript consultations — and drenching your creativity in the beautiful fall colors. Alternatively, check out Lambert’s 13-day women’s retreat in Peru in 2022 ($4,350).  

Lambert has a lengthy page of testimonials on her website. In one, Paula Hagar said Lambert was “the most awesome writing teacher I’ve ever studied with.” In another, Marsha Rosenzweig Pincus called the Peru trip “one of the most inspirational, spiritual and transcendent experiences of my life.”

Cost: $1,695 per person.

11. TLC Women’s Writing Retreats

Want something a little different?

Schedule your own private retreat with Tammy L. Coia, a memoir-writing coach who lives in Bellingham, Washington. You’ll stay at her house, in a private bedroom with water views. Each day, you’ll have one-on-one coaching alongside home-cooked meals. She offers this at her home in Palm Springs, plus Dahlonega, Georgia as well.

Or, if you’d rather work in a group setting, Coia holds retreats in Mexico in February ($1,950–$2,250), , Greece in May ($3,900–$4,400), and Italy ($2,800–$4,500) and Vermont in October ($1,500–$2,500). 

“Tammy gently leads you through what are often difficult memories to put on paper, but it can prove to be a very healing experience,” Joni Padduck wrote on Facebook. “I highly recommend Tammy! I guarantee it will be a wonderful experience.” 

Official 2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: $2,400–$3,400 for three- to five-day retreats. 

12. Wake Up and Write Writers Retreat Workshop

For three decades, this retreat — in one form or another — has been providing an immersive learning experience for people writing novels.

It will be held on a 15-acre retreat center outside of Boise, Idaho, where you’ll participate in workshops, intensive writing and one-on-one meetings with industry professionals.

Though the retreat doesn’t have any testimonials or social media reviews, we’re including it because of its longevity. One anonymous testimonial on its site said, “My friend says any workshop/retreat/conference that offers one nugget of insight is worth its weight in gold. If so, the Writers Retreat Workshop made me a wealthy woman.” We’ll just have to take her word for it! 

The retreat is temporarily suspended due to COVID-19. Bookmark it to keep an eye out for developing information about location, costs and more.

Cost: TBD; 2019 rate was $1,895 per person for a single room.

13. The White Mountain Book Writing Retreat

Editor’s note: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this retreat now offers an online option.

This retreat in the mountains of New Hampshire focuses on two things: self-nurturing and nonfiction book writing. If you keep putting off your book because of, well, life then host Dorothy Holtermann might say this retreat is for you. 

From July 12-17, 2021, you’ll learn her “Birth a Book system” through group classes and private coaching, all while feeding your body with farm-to-table organic food and daily yoga classes. If you’re Zooming, you can still join the fun: receive “healthy food goodies” by mail, and enjoy live meditation classes and book writing and performance classes that are sure to be interactive.

On the retreat’s website, a testimonial from Tammy Wetzel said: “My experience was transformative. I came to just work on the mechanics of writing but it was so much more. The holistic experience, the making of friends and ‘letting loose’ helped me discover the ‘soft side’ of writing.” 

Cost: $995 per person to attend from home, $2,455 per person for a private room, or $1,495 per person for tuition only.

14. Wide Open Writing: The Coast of Maine

Interested in spending a week writing from an Adirondack chair on the shores of the Atlantic? This retreat in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, will take place from June 20-26, 2020.

It includes writing workshops, a Thai massage, daily yoga — and membership in a “writing community that is devoted to co-creating magic.” Hosts Dulcie Witman and Nancy Coleman offer a March retreat in Mexico ($2,300)  and a September retreat in Italy ($2,650), as well.

On Wide Open Writing’s website, Robin Gaines, author of “Invincible Summers,” wrote: “I came to the retreat expecting a similar experience I’ve had at other writing retreats, the classic workshop style of sharing work and critiquing, but this retreat allowed participants to open up their imaginations to new work, new ideas, all with the support of other writers urging you on. It was dream-like. It was special. I’ll be back.”

Cost: $2,500 per person (does not include all dinners).

15. Unplug and Write: An All-inclusive Writing Retreat in Minnesota

Not only is Jess Lourey a tenured writing professor; she’s also the author of 20 books and counting. When you join this women-only retreat from August 8-14, 2021, in St. Paul, Minnesota, you’ll get her tutelage via group workshops and a private coaching session. 

Mornings at the beautifully-restored Summit Avenue mansion will feature meditation, yoga and writing, and afternoons will be yours to read or relax (or keep writing). This retreat is open to female writers of all stripes and stages, including bloggers, novelists, nonfiction authors and memoirists. 

“I had the opportunity to take a workshop from Jess before I was published,” Lissa Marie Redmond, author of “A Cold Day in Hell,” said in a testimonial on Lourey’s site. “Her honesty, encouragement, and knowledge of the craft helped me make the leap from aspiring writer to published author. I still take the lessons I learned from Jess and apply them to my daily writing routine.” 

Cost: $4,600. 

16. The Taos Deep Dive & Revision Writer’s Retreat

Want to get away, but not too far away? Try this women-only retreat in Taos, New Mexico, hosted by author Jennifer Louden from October 24 – 30, 2021.

Your fee includes everything: “All lodging and all meals, daily writing seminars, daily yoga classes, on-the-spot writing coaching, plentiful snacks, and love love love.” 

In a testimonial on Louden’s site, an anonymous writer said: “The retreat was honestly life-changing for me because it helped me understand what it is to be a writer.” Plus, Lauren Taylor shared, “The retreat transformed my relationship to my writing.” 

Cost: $2,390–$2,790 per person.

17. Good Contrivance Farm Writer’s Retreat

Located 25 miles north of Baltimore on a six-acre property in historic Reisterstown, Maryland, this writer’s retreat is open to writers of all levels, plus it operates on a first-come, first-served, non-competitive basis. (Although, you still need to submit a resume and one writing sample for admission.)

Good Contrivance Farm is a non-profit dedicated to the preservation and restoration of small, historic farms in Maryland, and it offers the retreat as part of public outreach efforts. 

Directed by Pushcart Prize writer (plus a ton of others) Ron Tanner and his wife Jill Eicher, the retreat offers workshops and readings as well as plenty of alone time for you in the farm’s contemporary loft apartment. 

There aren’t any Facebook reviews, but Harlan Roberts wrote a Google Review, saying, “My wife and I just spent a week here and we both got a LOT of work done! She managed to edit half of her current novel and I finished editing a book of my short stories. Ron Tanner has put together the perfect writing retreat. It’s quiet, comforting and very accessible.” 

Cost: $570 for one person for a weeklong stay (meals and beverages not provided); $670 for two. Discounts are available for longer stays up to four weeks. 

18. Write-by-the-Light Writers Retreat & Workshop

Author of 11 books Julie Tallard Johnson, MSW, LCSW is an educator, counselor and writing sherpa in Wisconsin who uses her five-day retreats as a way to help writers establish a solid foundation for their ideas and writing aspirations. 

The daily syllabus is brimming with writing prompts and opportunities to develop your book’s theme, voice and structure. She promises that if you come with just an idea, you’ll leave with a fully blossomed template for a book, plus knowledge of “simple and constructive ways to write about your experiences and knowledge in a uniquely creative way.”  

After Johnson helps you shape your stories and narrative during this retreat, you’ll know exactly how to bring out your story’s true meaning and complete your book. 

Take it from Moly Chanson, whose testimonial said: “Julie’s teaching style is encouraging and heartfelt, and over the course of the week my mindset shifted from writing as an indulgent hobby to an act of self-expression and service that can actually change the world. … I now have a completed manuscript that is ready to publish, and much of the writing I did at WBTL is in my book!”

Official 2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs, accomodations and more.

Cost: TBD. 

19.  BOAAT Writer’s Retreat

BOAAT is a literary journal and poetry book publisher that hosts an annual weeklong writer’s retreat in a spacious log cabin in the mountainous Vilas, North Carolina. 

Seven poets get to enjoy one-on-one time with a prominent workshop leader who will lead five group and individual workshop sessions — besides that, writers can use their serene time in the mountaintops to chip away at writing projects, explore nature and workshop their poetry with an established poet. 

Poet Ysabel Y. Gonzalez’s testimonial on the website said her time attending this retreat was “incredibly rewarding” for her poetry and personal well-being. She wrote, “This retreat was half residency and half workshop, which allowed my poetry the opportunity for feedback and critique, along with plenty of down time to generate new work.”

Official 2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs, accomodations and more.

Cost: TBD. 

Mexico & Latin America

20. Costa Rica Retreat for Writers and Families

Bring your partner and niños along on poet/children’s writer/playwright Julie Hartley’s creative writing retreat from January 30 to February 6, 2021.

You’ll stay at a gorgeous eco-lodge in the heart of the rainforest, with easy access to both hammocks and hikes. Each morning, you’ll participate in creative writing workshops, and you’ll have the afternoon to write or explore. In the evenings, you’ll reconvene with your group for readings and other writerly activities. 

In a 2020 Facebook review, Trish  Roberts wrote: “I had an amazing experience at the Costa Rica retreat in 2020. I met a wonderful and diverse group of writers. The writing workshops were well constructed and the group leader, Julie, offered invaluable insights and guidance. … I highly recommend.” 

Cost: $870.10–$1,265.60 per person (does not include lunch or dinner); $395 per child if sharing a room with two adults.

21. VSW Writing Retreats

Run by the Vancouver and Victoria Schools of Writing and hosted by writing coach and author Kathrin Lake, this retreat isn’t a bad deal — especially for Americans. 

It offers group classes and one-on-one coaching in writing and publishing, plus optional dancing and tours. Dates for the seven-day retreat are annual between January and March. Lake hosts one retreat in Canada in  August, too.

In a blog comment, David Pelzer wrote attending Kathrin Lake’s writing retreat in the historic village of Barra de Navidad in Mexico “is a gift to oneself,” saying: “Kathrin creates a supportive, nurturing environment while challenging each participant to explore their work in a deeper and more meaningful way, both in group work and individual coaching sessions. Highly recommended.” 

The retreat is temporarily suspended due to COVID-19. Bookmark it to keep an eye out for developing information about location, costs and more.

Cost: TBD; 2020 rate was $1,360 CAD per person (~$1,043 USD) (does not include lunch or most dinners). 

22. Journey Into Sacred Expression Women’s Retreat

I love the sound and attitude of Aimee Hansen’s women-only writing retreats in Guatemala — and from her glimmering reviews, they live up to their promise.  

You’ll stay on Lake Atitlan and enjoy daily yoga, meditation and writing sessions. Guest facilitators will also lead you in Mayan fire, cacao and dance ceremonies. 

“Aimee Hansen’s retreat was wonderful from start to finish,” Jill McGrath wrote in a Facebook review. “I was looking for a women’s retreat to recharge my poetry writing and to connect to my spirituality via yoga, meditation, and nature. The retreat far exceeded my expectations.”

Official 2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: TBD; 2020 costs ranged from $1,575–$1,895 per person (private rooms are an extra $300–$400).

23. Story Quest — Costa Rica

Make progress on your novel or memoir while staying on the lush beaches of Nosara, Costa Rica. 

During this “ultimate writing adventure,” authors Doug Kurtz and Dan Manzanares will teach you their “Story Map” curriculum, which covers characters; plot; and theme, setting and voice. The retreat includes six days and more than 30 hours of instruction, plus group and individual coaching sessions, happy hours and yoga. 

On Facebook, Evon Michelle Davis wrote, “The Story Quest workshop blew my mind! I have an MFA, but what I learned took my writing to a whole new level. Doug, Dan, and Doug’s wife, Cat, went out of their way to attend to the needs of the retreat participants.”

Official 2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: $1,695–$2,995 per person. 

24. Under the Volcano

Typically held in the Mexican village of Tepoztlán, this respected nonprofit program will hold its 18th annual retreat in cyberspace over a three-week period from April 9-30, 2021. The program, which is highly selective, requires a writing sample for admission. 

As an “incubator of literary talent,” it’s intended for “committed writers with projects underway.” Since it’s gone from one week to three, the 2021 program will combine master classes, intimate gatherings and craft talks, agent presentations plus optional pitch sessions, and even a weekly social that brings together participants from around the world. 

“Under the Volcano is not just about the writing,” said Natalie Hart, according to the program’s website. “It is a personal journey. Never has a combination of place, people and programme felt so powerful and inspiring.” 

Cost: $995 per person, plus a $450 auditor fee per masterclass.  Financial aid is available.

25. Creative Revolution Retreat

Leigh Shulman invites you to choose your own retreat dates — and join her anytime in 2020 in Salta, Argentina. This retreat is meant for people at any stage of writing a book, or for those who want to start writing but need some guidance. 

Over eight days, you’ll enjoy intensive writing workshops tailored to your project, yoga, cultural activities, a massage and a private apartment in a bustling city center. Space is limited and the host prefers an intimate retreat, so grab a couple of friends and book a date.

“The retreat met and exceeded my expectations,” Kathleen Evans said in a testimonial on Shulman’s site. “Each day I could feel the progress during this retreat, and I feel that I’ve really grown. My writing has matured, and I have a solid plan and an idea of where I want to go with my writing project.” (She tweeted about it, too.)

Cost: $2,500 per person. Scholarships are available.

26. The Right Place to Write

Who doesn’t want breath-taking views of mountains, valleys and the ocean as writing fodder? 

Join publishing powerhouses Dawn James and Tenita Johnson on their seven-day Costa Rican retreat, where you’ll have plenty of time to write, reflect and learn with a “dedicated team of publishing professionals to support, inspire and guide you.”

From March 25-31, 2021, you’ll get to expand your creativity through in-depth workshops and individual consultations with a writing coach and publishing strategist, feedback on written work and accountability partners. 

But first, you have to get through a clarity call with either James or Johnson to discuss your project and your commitment to publishing your work. You’ll also have to submit a book synopsis (if you haven’t started writing) to the editor or up to 12 pages of the work you hope to shape at the retreat — that way, she can prepare feedback for your one-on-one editorial session.

On the retreats testimonial page, Jen wrote, “This retreat taught me to have confidence in my voice and my writing. I also learned the business side of becoming an author. It was an incredible week!”

Cost: $1,895 until December 31, 2020; $2,195 after.


27. Retreats for You

Debbie Flint, the owner of a picturesque 17th-century thatched house in southwest England, runs a variety of retreats throughout the year. (Importantly, they all come with home-cooked meals and resident labradors you can walk through the countryside.)

Author Alison May, for example, is running three “Developing Your Novel” retreats from March 8-12, June 7-11, and November 1-5, 2021. If you can’t make those dates, author Rebecca Horsefall is hosting a five-night “Develop Your  Novel” retreat from February 22-27, 2021. There are also several “General Just Write” Retreats to consider, too. 

The center, which welcomes groups, has a five-star rating on Facebook with more than 80 reviews. “The house is gorgeous and comfortable; the food is delicious, and there is always home-made cake,” Anita Chapman wrote. “Alison is a fantastic tutor who knows a great deal, delivering it beautifully; and she has a real interest in her students’ projects.”

Cost: £595 (~$705 USD) per person.

28. Alpine Writers’ Retreat

If you’re looking for basically a writing residency, with a bit of tutelage thrown in, this new retreat might be of interest. 

To enable attendants to focus on their writing,  published novelist Valeria Vescina will lead small group retreats — max of three people! — in the Swiss Alps. You’ll enjoy a 90-minute writing workshop in the morning, then have the rest of the day to conquer those blank pages. After dinner, you can also participate in readings or group discussions. 

Though she doesn’t have any reviews yet, Vescina’s creative writing workshops at a library and high school have received positive feedback.  

Official 2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: TBD; 2019 rate was £600 (~$711 USD) per person for your own room. Dinners will be prepared by the host, with your help. Other dates may be available; inquire with Vescina.

29. The Leopardi Writing Conference

When you attend this retreat in the medieval town of Le Marche, Italy, its hosts promise you’ll get a glimpse of “authentic Italian country life.” 

This “immersive program for new and experienced authors” takes place in July 2021. It includes workshops and talks on fiction, nonfiction and poetry, as well as opportunities for expert feedback on your writing project. 

The retreat has several reviews on Facebook, including this recent one from Kelly Leonora: “Excellent and personal instruction in a small group setting, surrounded by beauty and inspiration. It exceeded expectations!”

Cost: $975 (does not include accommodation or meals). Partial scholarships are available.

30. Verse Kraken Writing Retreat

This weeklong retreat in Brittany, France in July 2021 is taught by authors Claire Trévien and Tori Truslow. (Trévien’s debut poetry collection was the reader’s choice in the Guardian’s first book award.)

They promise you’ll “engage with the environment” by exploring local culture, food and literature — and engage with your words through workshops, tutorials and independent writing time. Writers of all genres are welcome and encouraged. 

“This has been such a wonderfully restorative experience, one that has made me realise how starved of inspiration I’ve been for the last year,” Quen Took wrote on Twitter. “I want to carry this experience with me & use it to make my life a better, more joyous place.”

Official 2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: £850 ($1,007 USD) per person. £500 ($593 USD) £450–£500 (~$576–$641 US) per person without lodging or breakfast.

31. Black Sea Writing Retreat

Pumped to include a getaway in Romania — a lovely country that deserves more visitors! At this seaside retreat, you’ll receive practical instruction in writing and editing, as well as one-on-one critiques of your work. 

Also included in the cost are Romanian language classes, a food tasting and trips to historical sites in Romania and Bulgaria. The host offers more retreats in Ireland in May (for travel writing), June and September, and Paris in October.

“This is a special place in the world, a magical place,” Denise Stablein wrote in a testimonial on the site. “The Irish and local authors both entertained us and challenged us to be like them. They are real people. The combination of writing with immersion in the culture cannot be duplicated anywhere else. The land, the sea and the people are delightful.” 

Official 2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: TBD; 2020 rate was €1290 per person (~$1,528 USD).

32. Iceland Writers Retreat

At this retreat, it seems like you get what you pay for: intimate workshops and panels with award-winning authors like David Chariandy and Kristín Helga Gunnarsdóttir.

You’ll also have dedicated writing time and the opportunity to explore the incredible country of Iceland, with outings led by contemporary Icelandic writers. It runs April 29 to May 3, 2020.

On Facebook, Christine Wilkins Blackford wrote: “IWR is the best organized, the most productive and the most jam-packed full of fun I have ever had at a writers’ retreat. Going again this year. Can’t wait!”

Cost: 198,000 ISK (~$1,586 US) per person (does not include lodging and most meals). Scholarships available.

33. Write Away Europe — Plovdiv

Looking for a place where your “soul and creative spirit will soar”? Travel to the 2019 European “Capital of Culture” — the charming Bulgarian town of Plovdiv — from July 18-24, 2021. 

Your hosts will be Lisa Howe, a professional editor; Scott Stavrou, a novelist and writing instructor; and George Crane, a published author and writing instructor. You’ll participate in writing workshops, one-on-one mentoring sessions and nightly social hours, all while staying in the heart of a historic city.  

Write Away Europe also hosts retreats in Greece in May, Italy in June and France in September. It has several Facebook reviews, including one from Amy Lynn, who attended the Plovdiv retreat in 2019. “This program is phenomenal,” she wrote. “Every day there is individual attention to each writer’s projects. [They] used their expertise to really help me hone in on my craft—from plot to sentence structure, their attention was extremely valuable and helpful to me… The experience changed me as a writer.”

Cost:$1,850 per person (does not include lunch).

34. The Creative Writer’s Workshop: Fiction & Autobiographical Fiction

Learn to tell your story while escaping to the mythical Irish island of Inis Mór from July 11-18 or September  5-11, 2021. 

In addition to writing workshops with host Irene Graham, you’ll enjoy guided walks and tours of the remote island. Graham also hosts two memoir-specific retreats in June and September. 

“I am quite a different writer leaving this retreat than I was on arrival,” Kris Mescher wrote on Graham’s site. “I now know what story development is. My purpose is clear. I am freer to follow my internal creative sense.”

Cost: €1,675 ($1,885 USD) per person for a private room in July; €1,650 ($1,950 USD) in September (does not include all meals).

35. Women Reading Aloud — Greece

In June 2021, writer and poet Julie Maloney will bring her women’s retreat to the Greek island of Alonnisos for the tenth straight year.

You’ll stay in a family-owned guest house overlooking the Aegean sea. Each morning, you’ll participate in writing workshops, and each afternoon, you’ll have free time to explore your surroundings. One night, you’ll also partake in a sunset dinner cruise (swoon!). 

“I have attended the Alonnisos Writing Retreat with [Women Reading Aloud] for three years and each year I come away fuller, richer, and more excited about my writing,” said a testimonial from Lynne Rosenfeld on Maloney’s site. “I have grown so much as a woman and a writer.” 

Official 2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: TBD; 2020 rate was $2,425 per person for a private room (includes breakfast and three dinners).

36. Ireland Writing Retreat on the Wild Atlantic Way

Authors Carolyn Flynn and Jona Kottler invite fiction and creative nonfiction writers to join them at the Delphi Resort near Galway for a “generative and restorative retreat.”  

You’ll receive mentored critique, individual consultations, group talks on topics like story architecture, narrative flow and dialogue — and time to wander the mountains of Connemara. 

“The inspiration from… Ireland is still shining bright,” 2019 participant Cathy Wade wrote in a Facebook post. “The retreat had a profound impact on my writing and my confidence in my writing.”

Official 2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: TBD; 2019 rate was $2,295–$2,495 per person if booked before February 1, 2020, after which cost increases $100–$200 (includes breakfast and most dinners).

37. Your Beautiful Writing Life Retreat

Because no one can get enough of Italy: three-time novelist Vanessa Carvale’s three-night retreat will be held at a villa a few miles from the historical city of Florence.

It’ll include craft-based and coaching workshops, personalized manuscript feedback and even an onsite pasta-making class. Carvale hosts a retreat in Australia, as well. 

“I came in incredibly blocked and stressed about the project I was working on,” Josephine Moon, author of “The Beekeeper’s Secret,” said in a testimonial on Carvale’s site. “[A]nd I’m leaving with a new project that feels totally right, that I’m excited about.”

Official 2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: $2,450 per person.

38. Krouna Writing Workshop

Travel with novelist and writing instructor Henriette Lazaridis to her ancestral home in the mountains of northern Greece, where you’ll enjoy group workshops, individual coaching and lots of time to write.

To apply, you must submit a 10-page writing sample. And before attending the retreat from July 25-31, 2021, you’ll also need to submit a paragraph explaining why you want to participate in the workshop. 

“Krouna Writing Workshop is an amazing experience led by a brilliant, caring person in one of Greece’s most gorgeous landscapes, and I would attend again in a heartbeat,” Elene Catrakilis wrote in a Facebook review. “I received kind, constructive and incisive feedback, both written and verbal with respect to my manuscript.” 

Cost: $2,500 per person (does not include breakfast or dinner, but it does include round-trip transportation from Ioannina to Papingo by car).

39. Get Away to Write — Spain

Murphy Writing of Stockton University will hold its 11th international retreat in northern Spain.

The retreat, led by award-winning authors Peter E. Murphy, Roberta Clipper and Christine E. Salvatore, is open to fiction writers, memoirists and poets. It includes workshops, feedback sessions, plentiful writing time and an excursion to Barcelona.

In a Facebook review for Murphy Writing, Helen Chibnik said: “In addition to providing reliably gifted, supportive, and working writers as guides, the workshops are well-balanced, productive, and a whole lot of fun – worth every penny.”

Murphy Writing also hosts a March retreat in Florida for $1,500–$1,700 per person.

Official 2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: $2,500–$2,700 per person (scholarships and early registration discounts available).

40. Hamlet’s Hideaway

This all-inclusive retreat will be held in Denmark from August 8-14, 2021. You’ll stay in the shadow of Fredensborg Palace, a “magical setting to dream and create.” 

Hosts Shawna Kenney, an author, and Anja Klemp Vilgaard, a journalist, will lead you in one-on-one sessions and daily writing workshops. Both new and experienced writers are welcome.

Among the retreat’s five positive Facebook reviews, this one from Karen Halasa stood out: “Hamlets Hideaway was an experience of a lifetime, a crucible of creativity in a luxurious setting of natural beauty. The feedback provided by the organisers and other participants was encouraging and constructive, the place conducive to writing.” 

Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: $2,700 per person.

41. A Writer Within — Tuscany

Spend a week at a historic villa in Tuscany — complete with your own private chef — at this women-only retreat from May 15-22, May 29 to June 5 or October 2-9, 2021.

In the mornings, author Kathryn Kay will lead group writing sessions that focus on craft and the creative process. Afternoons will be for writing, one-on-one sessions and group outings to nearby towns and sites. In the evenings, you’ll share your work and reflect on the day (over wine).

Kay has written and video testimonials on her site. A recent review from Marisa Brown said: “I said ‘yes’ to the dream of a writing retreat, and what better guide than Kathryn Kay to make that dream become a reality. As a workshop leader, Kathryn is gracious, grounded and focused. This was truly an all-encompassing experience of exploring myself and my writing.”

Cost: $2,900–$3,700 per person.

42. GoodWorld Journeys Literary Salons on Patmos, Greece

You’ll get to work with some BIG names at this pair of 10-day literary salons in Greece. 

The first retreat in May features the poets Kaveh Akbar, Terrance Hayes and Mary Karr, who will guide you through discussions, in-class exercises and informal workshops. During the second, in June, Karr is joined by the legendary George Saunders to focus on personal essays, memoirs and short stories. 

“The Salon experience was intimate, and structured in a relaxed and informal way but also enabled me to gain valuable writing knowledge, skills, and affirmation,” Josephine Dempsey said in a testimonial on the retreat site. “Yes, a life changing experience!”

Official 2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: TBD; 2020 rate was $3,450–$3,950 per person (includes breakfast and two dinners). Scholarships and early-bird registration discounts available.

43. Stone + Wildflower Writing Retreat

At this (warning: $$$) retreat, founder Malika Ali Harding says, “We’ll gather seaside to make poems from wildflowers, short stories from stone, and reimagine Nordic fairytales by the fire.” It takes place at Norway’s stunning Arctic Hideaway from September 18-21, 2020.

This retreat is more focused on activities — like sunrise yoga, pebble stacking and wildlife viewing — than on coaching or critiquing, but allows time for writing and reflection, too.

“Traveling with Story Rebels allowed me to have the time and space to be creative,” Amanda Ponzio-Mouttaki said in a testimonial on the site. “With all the details sorted, I could relax and focus on writing, surrounded by others with a similar drive.”

Official 2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: TBD; 2020 rate was €4290–€4690 (~$4,753–$5,196 US) per person.

44. Loire Writers Retreat

Writers, authors, poets, academics, screen and songwriters in search of a “creative haven to find their inner voice, develop their craft and begin or complete their story” will find solace in this retreat’s nurturing environment. 

Located in central France’s Loire Valley and close to the historic town of Saumur, this retreat for writers offers a tranquil space for you to focus on your writing. 

Whether you stay for one week or four in 2021, hosts Iris and Derrick Mathews ensure your only responsibility will be to unleash your creativity — and you know they mean it because they even handle the cooking and cleaning for you. When you need a writing break, enjoy one complimentary holistic therapy session plus access to bicycles to explore the French countryside. 

“Thank you for a wonderful Writing Retreat,” said author Tony Macaulay in a testimonial on the site. “You have created the perfect place for writers to get away from it all, to relax, focus and simply write.”

Cost: £784 ($1,047 USD) per person per week. 

45. Vacation Writing 

From September 26 to October 2, 2021, discover your story in Ragusa, one of the most picturesque towns of southern Sicily. Whether you need to dust off a project, start or complete one, this (albeit pricey) retreat might be the restorative experience you need. 

Besides one daily writing workshop led by an author, you’re encouraged to use this time to generate new work, overcome writing blocks, simply keep writing — or sleep in as much as you can. In your free time, connect with the writers you’ll share a villa with or find inspiration in the architecture colors, tastes and sounds of Sicily.

Oh, and this isn’t too shabby: A private onsite chef will prepare all your meals and snacks. This fairly new retreat doesn’t have any reviews just yet, but the details look very promising. 

Cost: $3,000 for shared accommodations, $4,500 for a private room and $5,500 for couples (with only one person a part of the retreat). 

46. Melete Writing Retreats

If you’re a fiction writer, TV or screenwriter, you need to be at this week-long, immersive retreat in Piedmont, Italy between the months of May and July in 2021. 

The learning experiences found in each retreat session will be led by Harvard faculty and acclaimed authors, playwrights, screenwriters and TV writers. (No big deal.) It takes place at the historic Marchesi Incisa della Rocchetta estate, where a typical day includes readings, two-hour group manuscript workshops and one-hour one-on-one conferences — all al fresco if the weather is agreeable. 

Besides writing time, you can explore the national park and golf course located nearby, not to mention the cooking classes and wine and cheese tours. “Join us,” the site says, “and we will nurture your creativity as you deepen your process and build community.”

To get in, you’ll need to submit a cover letter or resume and writing sample. Although reviews or testimonials weren’t available, know that finetuning your craft in Piedmont puts you in great company: authors like Charles Dickens, Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and Natalia Ginzburg have all spent time writing in and about this region.

Cost: $2,675 per session (includes continental breakfast with room service and daily housekeeping service).

47. Words Wanderlust

How many writers can say they spent six days writing in the old-world streets of Tbilisi, Georgia? Between the vineyards with an 8,000-year-old history of winemaking and the ancient  monasteries, you might not ever want to leave this retreat for writers. 

From June 6-12, 2021, this retreat invites you and a small group of writers to accomplish three things: explore, escape, write. 

“Nurture your creativity, develop your work-in-progress or jumpstart your writing project” through writing sessions and daily creative writing classes led by award-winning authors. In addition to that, talks by international and local authors, personal consultations with writing tutors — and, of course, tours to Georgia’s countryside for wine and cheese tastings.

While you’re here, enjoy a private room in a stunning boutique hotel plus the opportunity to roam hidden gems in your spare time. Writers at any level are welcome, and course topics include: plotting and structuring your novel, turning life into story, creating compelling characters and getting your work published. 

Cost: $1,695 (not all dinners are included).

48. The Moth Retreat For Artists And Writers

“The Moth Retreat was exactly what I was looking for,” writes Susan Allot on the retreat’s website. “A converted barn all to myself, fresh veg[etables] from the garden and a daily delivery of eggs. Beautiful countryside on the doorstep. I managed about a month’s worth of writing condensed into one inspired week.”

For writers of any discipline looking to experience this along a beautiful country lane in Ireland, this retreat may be for you. You’ll be surrounded by the country’s famed lakes and joined by three dogs and a flock of hens. 

While you’re free to spend your time as your please, there’s Wi-Fi, a writing desk and an easel to use to work, plus a bike to explore the area. 

The Moth Magazine publishers Rebecca O’Connor and Will Govan will be available if you need any assistance. You won’t find guided writing workshops here, but you’ll certainly find the solitude and silence needed to finish that novel. 

Apply to find out when you can book this retreat in 2021! 

Cost: €400 a week ($476 USD), plus a €100 ($119 USD) fee to bring a partner or friend; a minimum stay of 1 week is required; self-catered.

Asia, Africa & Middle East

49. Writing Retreat in South Africa

Boy does this sound dreamy! You’ll stay at a farmhouse a few hours from Cape Town, enjoying morning classes and afternoon free writes (and countryside walks).  

In the evening, writing coach and literary agent Sarah Bullen will lead sessions focusing on everything from genre to character development to approaching publishers. It all goes down March 10-14, 2021. Along with the author Kate Emmerson, Bullen also hosts a retreat in Greece in June and Italy in September.

“I recently attended the writers retreat and residency at Skala Eressor [sic],” Mary-Joe Emde wrote in a Facebook review. “This has been the most profound retreat I have ever done. Kate and Sarah are masters at creating a space for creativity and writing skills. I loved every moment of it and would recommend this to every aspiring writer.”

Cost: 7,900–11,700 South African rand (~$514–$761 USD) per person. 

50. Write Your Journey — Vietnam

You’ll take a cooking class, boat to an ancient town, practice daily yoga, get a sound bowl massage — and, oh yeah, write — during this retreat at a boutique resort in Hoi An.

In September 2021, former academic and published author Kerstin Pilz will guide you in group and one-on-one writing sessions — all while exploring “authentic Vietnam” to “ignite your creativity.” 

This retreat has an abundance of reviews on TripAdvisor and Facebook. Julie B., for example, wrote: “It’s hard for me to explain the magic that happened in the retreat – very much thanks to beautiful and expert facilitation by Kirsten and wonderful service from the team she has in place. Whether you think you are a writer or not, this is definitely the place to find out…it was a truly fantastic and beautiful experience!”

Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: $1,950. 

51. Writer’s Retreat in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Israel

Want to explore the cosmopolitan city of Tel Aviv while sharing stories and making new friends? This women-only, Pink Pangea retreat might be for you.  

In addition to exploring Tel Aviv’s markets and history, you’ll participate in daily writing workshops, get guidance on pitching stories and connect with other women writers. The company also hosts retreats in other countries like France, Switzerland or Greece throughout the year.

According to a testimonial on the Pink Pangea site, Bobbie Traut said: “I met wonderful writers and had the chance to share stories with strangers who later became friends. By minimizing distractions and removing myself from my day-to-day schedule, I found that the creativity flowed.”

2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: $1,080–$1,280 per person (does not include lunch or dinner).

52. Indian Summer House Writers’ Retreat 

At this luscious boutique hotel in southern India, you can attend a writers retreat in March or October, or set up your own dates upon request. 

In addition to morning yoga and meditation, “tantalising” meals and cultural activities, you’ll have daily writing workshops, evening reading sessions and abundant writing time. 

In a recent TripAdvisor review, user shonee2018 gave their experience an “excellent” rating. “Time has this lovely pace in India,” they wrote. “It seems to pass even more gently at Indian Summer House during our daily writer’s workshops with Caroline Van De Pol, readings and discussions to reflect and share our work with others or enjoying the outdoor showers, having a drink in the coconut lounge, jumping into the pool two, three times a day or relaxing at the spa.” 

2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: TBD; 2020 costs ranged from $2,190–$2,990 AUD (~$1,494–$2,040 USD) per person. 

53. Himalayan Writers Retreat

On this 10-day retreat in the Indian Himalayas from March 31 to April 10, 2021, maybe you’ll find the solace you need to finish that important project. 

Each retreat has a guest leader, plus two resident facilitators: a psychologist and an author. They’ll guide you through everything from discussions to long walks, bonfires, yoga and pottery. Aside from airfare, everything is included in the price — airport transfers, food and even a trip to the Taj Mahal!

This retreat has more than 100 five-star Google reviews. In a recent one, Ramanjaneya Sharaph wrote: “The workshop covers all aspects, from the science and craft of writing, to getting published. This is a workshop in the true sense of the word. There are enough hands on [sic] writing exercises, with feedback from the course leader and other participants, that helps better understand the concepts.” 

Cost: $2,800 per person.

54. Writing on Water — Inner Mongolia

Ready for a real adventure? At this retreat, you’ll stay in a luxury hotel in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region of northern China.

You’ll participate in creative writing and movement workshops, attend historical and cultural tours, and gain a deeper understanding of this unique part of the world. Plus, you’ll meet guest artist Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, the award-winning author of two novels and one memoir. The organizers also host retreats in Australia and Croatia.    

Although no social media reviews are available, Nicole Reed wrote in a website testimonial: “The week I spent with Writing on Water was a powerful experience. I was able to discover myself as a writer.”

2021 dates have yet to be announced. Keep an eye out for more detailed information about location, costs and more.

Cost: TBD; 2020 costs ranged from $2,975–$3,375 per person.

55. The Cape Town Writers Retreat

This five-day retreat is hosted by Rohm Literary Agency and led by best-selling author and literary agent Wendy Goldman Rohm. 

Fiction and nonfiction writers, poets, filmmakers and playwrights of all levels are welcomed to attend this private retreat in the heart of Cape Town to accomplish whatever they’d like: create new material, develop ideas or shape works-in-progress.

Here, “story and manuscript development come alive.” As information becomes available for Cape Town’s 2021 retreat, check out these additional opportunities:

  • Maui, Hawaii: January 18-22 ($2,395)
  • Biarritz, France: March 5-7 ($875)
  • Paris, France: March 19-21 ($850)
  • Andros, Greece: May 16-21 ($2,245)

“I will bask in the creative afterglow of Wendy Goldman Rohm’s writers’ courses for a long, long time,” writes Margaret Atwood’s literary agent Phoebe Larmore on the website. “During my many years as a literary agent, I attended numerous writers conferences, but none of them came close to the extraordinary events for writers that Wendy presents. Wendy … has the gift of inspiring writers to expand their visions and hone their crafts, and of sensibly instructing them how the publishing world works.”

Cost: TBD; 2020 rate was $1,550 (not including lunch and dinner). Scholarships available. 

Have you attended any of these writing retreats? Have any others to recommend? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.

Photo via MRProduction / Shutterstock 


Double-Parking, Straddle, and To Seek Out

By Maeve Maddox

background image 146

I find language fodder everywhere.

This post was prompted by a Facebook video clip.

A woman is loading her groceries. The woman’s car is barely over the painted line on her left. A red car has parked as closely as possible to her driver’s side. The owner of the red car lurks in hiding to film the woman’s predictable difficulty. Once the woman has finished struggling across her passenger seat, the owner of the red car comes out of hiding, gets into his car, and zips off through the empty space in front of him.

The video has a header and an accompanying text.

Header: Woman pays the price for double parking.

Double-parking takes a hyphen. It is an expression associated with parking on a street, not in a parking lot. It refers to the practice of parking a car next another car that is already parked in a space parallel to the curb.

Apparently, parking too close to the car in the next space has become common. I’ve seen several “teach them a lesson” videos like this one, in which self-styled parking police deliberately pen in a car to “punish” the unknown driver. The videos are billed as “funny car pranks.” The problem is so common that a recent TV new car commercial promotes a remote backup feature.

We could use a new term for parking too close to another car in a parking lot. Because “double-parking” refers to street parking, I suggest “squeeze-parking” for the phenomenon of parking too close to a neighboring car in a store parking lot.

In the text that accompanies the video, the woman’s car is described as straddling the line.

This word has acquired numerous figurative meanings, but it started out as a word to describe standing, sitting, or walking with legs wide apart. In reference to the human body, the action places exactly half on each side of the straddle. For a car to straddle a parking line, it seems to me that the car would have to be more or less centered on the line, half on each side. I have seen cars parked that way in the past, presumably to discourage other cars from coming too close. I doubt the technique works anymore.

The narrator of the video says, “the owner [of the red car] saw her and immediately sought out on a mission to teach her a valuable lesson.”

sought out on a mission
This error could derive from a mishearing of the expression “to set out.”

Sought is the past form of seek, an old-fashioned verb meaning, “to look for.” In modern English, seek and sought can carry a connotation of lofty aspiration. For example, the mission of the Starship Enterprise:

to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

And Tennyson’s stirring paean to the remaining strengths of old age:

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Seek and sought often imply searching with great effort and/or urgency.

We sought refuge in doorways and under vehicles.
More than 100 men have sought shelter at the mission on some nights this winter.

The phrasal verb seek out differs from the single verb seek. One seeks office, seeks help, seeks one’s fortune, but seeks out specific people or things that may be hard to find:

They sought out dying men on the battlefield and lay beside them to comfort them.
Stopping in Dubai, he sought out Zovko, one of his platoon mates from Fort Bragg
During tough economic times, consumers will always seek out affordable splurges.

Finally, sought-after, sometimes seen without a hyphen, is a popular qualifier:

Watson also has become a much sought after fashion model, admired for her style.
She also happens to be one of the most sought-after personal trainers in Europe.
This is one of the premier and sought after organizations in the Piedmont Triad.
Mundos also became the Philippine government’s most sought-after terrorist.

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Keep learning! Browse the Misused Words category, check our popular posts, or choose a related post below:


13 Great Reasons To Submit Writing To Online Literary Journals | Writer’s Relief 

13 Great Reasons To Submit Writing To Online Literary Journals | Writer’s Relief 

More people are reading publications on mobile devices, so literary journals are following their readership and moving online. At Writer’s Relief, we know even well-respected, established print journals are publishing exclusively online to reduce costs. By submitting your writing to online literary journals, you have the best odds of getting your work in front of the largest audience. Here are more great reasons to submit writing to online literary journals.

13 Reasons To Submit Writing To Online Literary Journals

  1. More trees are saved! Online publishing is eco-friendly! No paper means no need to harvest trees.
  2. Your writing will be searchable. Once you’re published in an online literary journal, you’ll show up in Google search results—so readers, editors, and literary agents will be able to find you easily. It’s a great way to build your author reputation and online presence.
  3. Online publications are linkable. When your writing is published in a print journal, interested readers will have to buy that journal and wait for its arrival. But with an online publication credit, you can put a live link on your author website and make your work immediately accessible to a wider audience. You can also include a live link in your social media posts to bring your writing right to your followers’ fingertips.
  4. The benefits of working with editors. Whether the journal is print or online, you still get the benefit of working one-on-one with an editor. This is especially valuable for writers who are working to hone their craft, because any type of feedback from editors is a rare gift, no matter how long you’ve been writing!
  5. Great self-promotion opportunities. Many online journal editors are willing to link to your author website, or even other publications featuring your work. You’ll be able to use your bio info to cross-promote your published writing to an entirely new group of readers who are more likely to become fans and followers!
  6. No publishing history? No degree? No problem! While all literary magazines will be interested in a well-written piece, online literary journals tend to be more open to work from any writer—and more likely to judge the writing based solely on its merit. There’s less need to reserve space for better-known writers in order to justify subscription prices.
  7. Less expensive subscription costs—or totally free! Print journals can be pricey (they need to recoup the cost of printing and mailing), but online journals are often free, or only charge a nominal fee. Your writing will have the potential to reach a much wider audience when it’s available online at no cost to readers.
  8. Better longevity. An issue of a print journal usually has only one print run, and back issues may go out of print, while an online publication often stays on the Internet indefinitely. Your writing will be readily available to readers no matter how long ago it was published!
  9. Connect with fans. Many literary journals allow readers to comment on individual pieces—so if someone reads your writing and loves it, it’s easier for them to let you know! You can also engage with other writers who may have questions or want to discuss your work further. And for writers, building a community of peers is always a good idea!
  10. Availability. Sadly, many bookstores simply don’t carry literary journals anymore. Unless your potential readers are also subscribers to the journal publishing your work, they’ll never get a chance to read it. But work that is published in an online literary magazine is available to anyone who has access to the Internet! Since they’re not limited by printing budgets, online literary journals can publish more issues per year—which offers you more opportunities to get your work accepted.
  11. Awards and accolades. Online literary journals nominate for the same prestigious awards and prizes as print journals. If you receive a Pushcart Prize nomination, it isn’t any less of an honor if it came from an online journal. Insider tip: Since not every writer is savvy to the benefits of online literary journals, you may have less competition for their awards!
  12. A bonus when querying literary agents. A publishing credit in an online literary magazine is definitely worth mentioning in your query letter—especially if it’s for an excerpt of the book you’re querying! You can also easily provide online links to any literary agent interested in reading more samples of your writing.
  13. Boost your self-published collection. When self-publishing a collection of poetry, short stories, or essays, you’ll want to acknowledge all prior publications for the pieces in your collection. Online journals allow you to include links to these publications, and may even promote your collection in return—one of the many benefits of cross-promotion!

Easy Tips For Vetting An Online Literary Journal

Use a trusted service. With such a wide array of journals available, it’s a good idea to get some help in vetting these outlets—especially if you’re new to sending out submissions! At Writer’s Relief, our research experts carefully vet every literary journal so that our clients are sending submissions to reputable publications that are well suited for their work. Check out this free list of some of our favorites!

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of spending hours sifting through literary journal websites to find the ones right for you—and to eliminate all those that are NOT right for you—Writer’s Relief can help! We track thousands of literary journals and can quickly pinpoint those that will offer you the best odds of getting an acceptance. To be considered for our client list, send your writing sample to our Review Board today!

Check out the editors. If you’re wary of submitting to an online-only journal, research the editors to learn about their experience in the publishing industry. Have they been published themselves? Did they work at another prestigious journal? Do the editors demonstrate a passion for writing?

Read the journal. Before submitting to a journal, you should always read a few issues to see whether your style will be a good fit. If you don’t think the work is high quality, cross that journal off your list.

Look at the website. Spend some time reviewing the online journal’s website. Is it easy to navigate? Do you like how it looks? Do all of the pages and links work?

Check for award nominations. Literary journals—print or online—must meet certain stringent criteria in order to nominate pieces for awards such as The Pushcart Prize or Best New American Voices. If you see that an online journal is able to make these nominations, that’s a great sign.

Get Help Finding Reputable Online Literary Journals  

At Writer’s Relief, we know researching online markets can be tricky and overwhelming for many writers. If you feel like you’re in over your head, Writer’s Relief can create a targeted submission list based on your writing style and genre. Submit your work to our Review Board today and boost your odds of getting published!


Question: Which online literary journal is your favorite?




Hear Ye! Hear Ye! #Audiblegate and the Audiobook Return Fiasco

By David Kudler

Perhaps you have seen grumbling on social media and across the internet about #Audiblegate and Audible’s return policy. In case you haven’t been following the controversy, let me tell you what it’s about – and why all independent publishers should care.

What’s happening is that Audible, the dominant retailer of audiobooks in the US, has been actively encouraging their customers to return their audiobooks in exchange for new audiobooks. The reader/listener gets a new book at no cost. No questions asked, regardless of how much of the first book they listened to (even if they finished it), up to a year after they purchased it. Sounds great, right?

The problem is that when the first book gets returned, the royalties earned by the narrator, producer, and author of that book get pulled back as well. So the listener gets to enjoy our work — but we don’t get paid.

Audiobooks are great

Audiobooks are a wonderful format for us to expand the availability of our work to new audiences, and to make our books more convenient for the readers we already have. The audiobook market has continued to grow at a rapid rate, whether folks are looking to fill commute time or divert themselves during the current pandemic. So many of us small and self-publishers are tapping into that potential.

There are two major challenges to entering the audiobook market:

  1. Audiobooks are technically difficult and expensive to produce.
  2. One retailer has a relative monopoly on the US audiobook market — at least as it is available to American indie publishers.

Audiobooks are expensive

Audiobooks aren’t cheap to create. A full-length 300-page novel will translate to a twelve- to fifteen-hour audiobook. That audiobook needs to be narrated by one or more voices. Those voices must be recorded with high-quality equipment in a prepared space free of background sound. The recordings — which will often take two or more times as long as the final product — must be edited and mastered. The whole process can take anywhere from three to ten times as long as the finished recording.

This all means that audiobooks can cost a lot to produce. I have narrated and produced my own audiobooks — and I’ve done so for others. In addition to being an author and a publisher, I’m a professionally trained voice actor with a recording space in my home that meets professional quality standards. But it still takes a lot of time for me to record, edit, and master an audiobook. I have costs to purchase and maintain equipment. And if I have to hire another narrator (for a book that needs a female narrator, say), I have to pay for their time and possibly the rental of studio time. That 15-hour audiobook can cost anywhere from two to six thousand dollars or more to produce — either in cash or (in a case like mine) in labor.

We pay those costs — not Audible. Not their parent company Amazon. The publishers incur the expenses. We expect those steep costs to be offset by sales.

Amazon’s Audible dominates the market

For most of us, the easiest way to produce an audiobook is through Audible’s (Audible Creative eXchange). You can audition producers willing to take on your book, finding the right voice(s), working with them as they produce the audiobook, and then releasing the audiobook through ACX to both Audible and iTunes — which together account for something like 90% of the American market.

Audible offers your choice of either an exclusive royalty arrangement (which pays 40% of gross sales) or non-exclusive (which pays 25%). Given how dominant Audible/iTunes is, many of us opt for the exclusive agreement, which lasts seven years. (I often go the non-exclusive route and release “wide” through Author’s Republic or Findaway Voices — but that’s a conversation for another day.)

So, to recap: audiobooks cost the publisher a lot to produce, and many of us are locked into a relationship with Audible, trying to recoup and hopefully profit on our investment of time and money through sales.

Audible’s return policy benefits them at the creators’ expense

Here’s where Audible’s return policy becomes such a problem for us.

Audible has always had a fairly generous return policy: listeners can return an audiobook up to a year after purchasing it, no questions asked, in exchange for credit toward a new audiobook. Listened to the whole audiobook? Reviewed it? Listened to it again? No problem — here’s credit toward your next listen.

Of course, as I said, when Audible allows the return, the 40% that had been credited to the producer — typically around $5.00 for that full-length novel — suddenly becomes $0.00.

So that’s a bit of a problem from our point of view.

What makes it worse is that Audible’s reporting is completely opaque.

Here’s the sales data I got on ACX’s sales dashboard regarding my novel Risuko one day recently:

That’s a month-to-date report taken earlier this month. Not spectacular, but I haven’t promoted the book recently. (Have to do something about that!) The various “units” columns are different membership plans. Note there’s no indication of how much each unit might be worth to me — I have to wait until I’m actually paid to see that. ACX provides no further information.

A few days later, this is what that same report looked like:

Huh? Where did they go?

They got returned, of course. No indication why. No indication of whether the person listened to all of the book, half of the book, or none. These returns could have been from last year, not the ones purchased this month. Like Sergeant Schultz on Hogan’s Heroes, I know nothing.

Well, shoot. That sucks!

But wait. It gets worse.

I publish a number of audiobook series — both my own and those I’ve produced for other authors. My absolutely favorite thing to watch is when Book #1 in a series sells one day. Then the next day, it’s returned, and Book #2 is purchased with the same refunded credit. Then next day Book #2 gets returned and Book #3 purchased…. And so on, all of the way through the series. Or on to another book by the same author.

Clearly the listener enjoys the books. Clearly they’re listening to the entirety of each recording. And yet we make nothing — unless we’re fortunate enough for the listener to get off the merry-go-round on one of our titles, rather than going straight on from the last book in one of these series to one by someone else.

But wait! There’s more!

Lately, Audible has been actively promoting this “feature” to lure in new (or returning) customers. I used to have an active membership on Audible. Here’s what shows up on my account page:

Here’s what the membership promotion looks like on the Amazon mothership:

While I’m listening to an audiobook, if I tap on the three-dot information button, I’m presented with a number of options — prominently among them, EXCHANGE:

So Audible has apparently decided not only that their broken returns system isn’t a problem — it’s actually something they’re going to use to sell memberships. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. This policy costs Audible/Amazon nothing. The cost is borne entirely by the creators of the product.


In the past few months, some ACX narrators, authors, and publishers have reported a steep increase in returns. Note that it’s almost impossible for us to quantify or document our losses, since we have no way of tracking how many there are, nor how much they’re costing us.

Mostly, we’d been suffering in silence — until thriller author/publisher Susan May published a post on what she dubbed #Audiblegate. Other authors, including science fiction bestseller Cory Doctorow and contributor Nate Hoffelder, spread the word.

A group of disgruntled authors, narrators, and producers has gathered on Facebook, sharing information and coordinating plans for how best to encourage our partner Audible to change its policy and improve its reporting. We’ve reached out to the Authors’ Guild for guidance, and we’ve done our best to boost the signal to our friends, family, and — especially — our readers. We want them to know that what may seem like a nice deal isn’t coming out of Audible’s largesse — it’s coming out of our pockets.

What next?

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Don’t exchange audiobooks you’ve actually listened to.
  2. Let your friends and readers know not to exchange.
  3. Join the conversation.

Want to read more articles by David Kudler? Click here.
Photo: BigStockPhoto




How to Start Writing a Blog

A guest blog by Adam Enfroy

It’s never been easier to share your writing with a large audience. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow you to build a reader following and also connect with other writers.

But if you want to establish yourself as an author and launch a writing career, blogging is a great place to start.

But you may not know how to start a blog.

You’re in the right place.

This guide will take you through all the steps.

But first, let’s look at why you should start a blog (in case you need convincing).

Why you should start a blog

Blogs have been known to change writers’ lives.

You can use a blog to:

  • Grow an audience
  • Establish a personal brand
  • Make people aware of your writing, even your books
  • Connect with other writers

But that’s not all.

Blogging gives you an opportunity to establish a writing platform and reach more potential readers.

As you build your following, you’ll also get feedback on your writing. Readers can add comments or send an email to express their thoughts.

Finally, blogging can help you learn valuable skills that you can apply to other aspects of your business.

For example, with search engine optimization (SEO), you can market your writing and attract more clients.

In other words, you want to use words and phrases people use when they’re using a search engine like Google to see what’s available on the internet. You optimize the chance of their finding your blog that way.

Steve Kamb started blogging about health and wellness on By regularly publishing quality content, Kamb built NerdFitness into one of the most popular sites in the health industry, according to SimilarWeb.

He’s since secured a book deal. He also regularly speaks for Google.

Much of Steve Kamb’s success can be attributed to his blog.

The same can happen for you.

And you can do all of this and more working from the comfort of your own home, thanks to remote work tools such as Zoom.

Now, how to get started.

1. Pick a niche for your blog

In the blogging world, little is less attractive to readers than a Jack of all trades, master of none.

You’ll more likely succeed with your blog when you focus on a specialty rather than writing about everything—or primarily about yourself.

Distinguish your blog and establish yourself as the go-to source of information by narrowing your focus (e.g., meal planning for athletes; or couponing to save money; or feeding a family on a budget).

This gives you a more authoritative platform.

Choose a topic about which you’re a bit of an expert and which interests you enough to sustain long-term motivation.

2. Choose a platform

A platform is a channel you use to publish your writing. It will help you establish your name and increase your visibility.

For a user-friendly platform, check out — a self-hosted blogging platform where you can create a site for free.

Simply create a WordPress account, then choose a theme and an address for your blog (e.g., Once you’re set up, you can start publishing right away.

Other website builders include Wix, Squarespace, Medium, and Tumblr.

But be aware — they offer limited customization options and they can terminate your account at any time.

With WordPress’s open-source software (found at, You control your website and own the content you publish.

All you need is a domain name and hosting.

A domain name is the actual website address of your website (like And hosting refers to the company that you use to get your website online. They store your files and make them accessible to everyone on the Internet.

Many web hosts like Bluehost and HostGator even offer one-click installations, so you can have WordPress installed in about the time it takes to make a cup of coffee.

Once WordPress is up and running (the place where you add your website content), you can install one of many WordPress themes for writers.

These themes are design templates that control the color schemes and layout of your writing blog.

3. Focus on delivering value

Blogs that grow massive audiences focus on creating engaging content for their readers.

Always aim to deliver value with your content. Your blog must be reader-oriented — for their benefit.

Include original screenshots in your posts to increase engagement and grab your reader’s attention.

Another way to provide value is to offer a tool or interactive survey.

For example, an insurance company provides an interactive calculator visitors can use to calculate how much coverage they need.

This is a great way to capture readers’ email addresses.

4. Optimize your content for SEO

Millions of blog posts are published each day. One of the best ways to drive traffic to your blog is to optimize your content for SEO.

Anticipate what people search for, use those words and phrases in your content, and their searches will more likely find you.

Do this in your titles, descriptions, headers, and the blog copy itself.

If you use WordPress as your blogging platform, consider installing the Yoast SEO plugin. It includes a handy analysis feature that shows how well optimized your content is.

SEO isn’t a one-time thing. It takes a good deal of effort to get your content ranking in Google.

Remember, Google tries to give the best possible top 10 search results on the first page.

The only way to get there is to write in-depth, high-quality content that is the best possible answer.

5. Maintain a consistent blog schedule

Frequency is less important than predictability when it comes to blogging.

Readers need to know when they can expect a new blog from you, whether once a week or more or less frequently.

With a standard writing schedule, SEO-optimized, well-written content, and backlinks, you’ll gain a large readership as long as you stay consistent.


With over 500,000 monthly readers, Adam Enfroy’s mission is to teach the next generation of online entrepreneurs how to scale their influence at startup speed. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


This Week in the Blogs, November 12 – 18, 2020

By Shelley Sturgeon

Hard to believe that we’re already in the last half of November. Where did the time go? If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, how’s it going?

Still time to submit your e-book covers to our contest for November (that will be published in late December). All the info you need can be found here. Don’t miss October’s e-Book Cover Design Awards post here on Monday, November 30th.

And, check back here next week for our latest edition of Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies.

Be well, stay safe (and warm if winter’s settling in where you are) and I’ll see you back here in two weeks.

Joanna Penn on The Creative Penn
YouTube For Authors And Multiple Streams Of Income With Meg LaTorre
“How can you use video to attract readers to your books — and create multiple streams of income?”

C. Hope Clark on Funds for Writers
Amazon Reviews Can Be a Treasure Trove
“Whether reader or writer, imagine not having Amazon. You might cope just fine, but you know what? You’d be coping. So, instead of fighting it, consider using it to your advantage.”

Kathryn Craft on Writer Unboxed
5 Random Ways to Trim Your Manuscript
“I have just finished a concision edit on my work-in-progress that I didn’t exactly aim to do.”

Nate Hoffelder on The Digital Reader
Amazon Launches New Author Portal
“About three years back Amazon started beta-testing a new author portal called Amazon Author (not to be confused with Author Central). That new portal officially launched this past week with a somewhat confusing name and a new address.”

Brian Jud on BookBaby Blog
Seven Secrets To Selling Books As Special Sales
“Selling books to non-bookstore buyers — for employee perks, sales incentives, or add-on value — requires you adopt the seven “Cs” to find success.”





How To Best Shorten Your Short Story | Writer’s Relief

How To Best Shorten Your Short Story | Writer’s Relief

When reading short stories published in literary journals, you may notice some of these short stories are actually medium-length—and an occasional short story may be rather long. But with more people using mobile devices for all their reading, editors of literary magazines are now focusing on shorter short stories that don’t exceed about 3,500 words. If you want to boost your odds of getting published, the experts at Writer’s Relief know it’s important to shorten your short story and make it as tight and concise as possible without losing anything essential.

5 Ways To Shorten Your Short Story

Change your mind. Big stories can come in little packages! Sometimes, a short story that’s actually short can pack just as much meaning and experience into the text as a story that sprawls across several pages. Concise, focused writing often leads to a bigger emotional impact. Stories that start from the very first sentence tend to get more attention than those that fight for momentum.

Is it easy to write “short”? Nope. But that’s why today’s editors favor shorter shorts. Writers who can trim, tighten, and edit tend to earn editors’ favor. When you revise, be sure your prose is tight and concise. Here’s how to purge extra words from your sentences.

So don’t be afraid of tightening things up! Sometimes, less is more.

Start on the right foot. In a best-case scenario, your short short story’s life begins before you start writing it. When you’ve got your ear to the ground and are listening for a spark of inspiration, remember that how you start your short story will impact how it ends.

For example: If you imagine a short story that’s going to follow the life of a salesman from his third grade play to his three marriages to his death, you’re going to have a really, really long short story. In fact, you might have a novella.

But if you envision a short story that’s a snippet of that man’s life—maybe a meaningful dinner party or the birth of a child—your story will do a better job of delving into the meaning of the moment. Don’t bite off more than your short story can chew.

Use your zoom lens. Imagine your short story is a camera, and focus in on a character or a moment very tightly. Explore the moment from every angle. Sometimes, very small moments can have huge, consequential meanings. The moment can be mundane (a man picks up a coin on the ground) to the exceptional (a woman reaches the top of Mt. Everest). Either way, there’s a lot of gravity to discover in the “small” moments.

Consider a character sketch. A short story doesn’t have to “do” much; it can just “be.” A short story is not necessarily like a novel or a memoir, which often has a particular kind of momentum that builds from one scene to the next. For that reason, a short story is a great place to work up a character sketch. Explore a character’s strengths and flaws. Perhaps there’s a quiet moment at the end of the story in which the character has the opportunity to change something about themselves (this would be a climactic moment). Whether or not the character decides to change will give your character sketch some shape.

Read more: Five Tips To Make Your Story Stand Out.

Revisit your existing short stories. Sometimes it’s possible to find a shorter story within a longer one. For example, you might revisit an old short story, identify a key moment, and then write a new short story that focuses specifically on that moment. Or consider doing a character sketch based on a character you already know from a previous short story—and you might even learn something about your new protagonist!

Shortening your short stories, trimming the word count, and editing can all be frustrating. But the results—tighter writing as well as an increased number of literary journals that will be interested in publishing your work—will be worth it!


Question: What’s your go-to tip for shortening a short story?



A New Guide For Life In 2020: The Elements Of Stress | Writer’s Relief

A New Guide For Life In 2020: The Elements Of Stress | Writer’s Relief

Move over, Elements of Style—here’s Elements of Stress, a handbook for our times which specifically addresses dealing with life in 2020! In this article Writer’s Relief found on, we learned The Elements of Stress is based on the theory that things could not get any worse but they can get funnier. Filled with witty cartoons created by  New York Times bestseller Bob Eckstein and New Yorker cartoonist Michael Shaw, this book will help writers and readers in their pursuit of being happy-ish during these very unusual times.

Learn more about The Elements of Stress and the Pursuit of Happy-ish and check out a few of the very funny cartoons here.