Safe and supportive gatherings to improve your writing
Writing can change the world, but often, it changes the writer first. The stronger and more skillful you are as a writer, the more significant the change. The way to become stronger and more skillful is to write, to practice, to share your work in a safe and supportive setting, and to write some more.
Writing takes practice. Practice takes time. Time requires both the willingness to commit and a safe place where time for writing is expected and highly valued.
That’s why every Greenfire program, from luncheon speech to multi-day writing retreat, includes guidance, ideas, and practice in a safe, supportive environment. Here, you can experiment, share your work, and write without fear.
Our goal is to empower, not intimidate. To open up your creativity, not shut it down under the guise of rules or one person’s self-proclaimed “right” answer. To increase your confidence at the same time you’re improving your skills.
Follow the links below to read about specific retreats, workshops, and shorter programs. (Links for registration are with that program’s description and under Registration on the Stuff for Sale page, too.)
Be sure to email me if you have any questions or would like to set up a workshop, retreat, or other programs.
What’s the difference between a Retreat, a Workshop, Programs & Presentations, and a Writing Conference?
At a Greenfire Writing Retreat:
We meet in group session for part of each day—for longer retreats, usually from about 10:00 a.m. to noon, and for shorter retreats, intermittently throughout the day. During the group session, we experiment with various writing techniques and prompts, discuss a particular writing topic, share writing exercise results, and talk about challenges, successes, and issues that are part of being a writer. Longer retreats include individual coaching sessions throughout the retreat. There’s plenty of time to write, reflect, and explore.
We talk about the steps for effectively and appropriately reviewing work and obtaining feedback, but we spend very little time formally critiquing participants’ work. You don’t have to submit work ahead of time (though you can if you want to).
Greenfire retreats can be as short as a day or two and as long as a week or more. Longer retreats (5-night/6-day and up) are usually all-inclusive (food and lodging are part of the package, and everyone stays at the same place, often a lodge or large guest house).
Greenfire retreats may be virtual (online, generally via Zoom) or in-person gatherings.
At a Greenfire Writing Workshop:
We meet in group session for at least 4 hours each day. Depending on the workshop, we may meet in group session all day. There isn’t as much time to write outside of group session or to explore the neighborhood.
Greenfire workshops often focus on a specific type or genre of writing—for example, interpretive writing (including exhibit labels, nature trail signs, and museum programs), creative nonfiction (memoir, nature writing, essays), or fiction (overall or restricted to a specific genre). During group sessions, we explore the specific type of writing, experiment with writing techniques and prompts, and share writing exercise results.
We also spend time in group sessions learning how to effectively review our own and others’ work and formally critiquing each others’ work in the safe, supportive environment of the workshop. For most workshops, you can submit work ahead of time, but you don’t have to. Longer workshops (4 days or more) may include a one-on-one session with each participant and feedback of previously submitted work.
Workshops range from half-day to 5-day/7-night workshops. Shorter workshops are usually not all-inclusive; longer workshops may or may not be, depending on type, size, and location of the workshop. Greenfire workshops may be virtual (online, generally via Zoom) or in-person gatherings.
In Shorter Greenfire Programs:
We meet as part of an organized event (a luncheon or conference, for example) or for a session that’s shorter than a half-day (for example, on-site professional development). During the program, we focus on a specific topic, skill, and/or genre, depending on the length of time and the program’s purpose. Shorter programs include after-dinner talks, keynote presentations, conference breakout sessions, and 3-hour “mini-workshops.” Greenfire programs may be virtual (online, generally via Zoom) or in-person.
What about writing conferences and conventions?
Conferences and conventions are great, and there are some excellent ones out there. They’re a good place to meet lots of other writers. You may meet agents and publishers, too. Most are set up the way any conference is—keynote speakers, a plenary session or three, and concurrent breakout sessions with panel discussions, speakers, and demonstrations. They can be fun, exciting, and inspiring. Thanks to the COVID pandemic, many conferences have successfully shifted to online formats, which has extended their reach to folks who would otherwise be unable to attend. Some are experimenting with hybrid events, with both online and in-person programming.
There’s a good chance that you’ll learn some interesting things at a conference or convention, but they don’t provide the sustained, intense focus on writing—actual sitting-down-and-writing—that is so valuable at a retreat or workshop. In addition, for most conferences, there’s little to no opportunity for one-on-one feedback.
It’s not that retreats or workshops are right and conferences and conventions are wrong; they’re all valuable. And they are all different from each other—so before you decide that a less (or more) expensive conference must be better than a week in a cabin in the woods or the conference room at the local museum, think about what you need as a writer, at this time. If you’re not sure, contact me; I’ll help you sort through your options.