Explore. Write. Connect.
Black Bear Writing Retreat is a 5-day/6-night retreat for writers in any creative genre. The retreat combines three components daily: (1) sightseeing in a beautiful mountain setting, (2) enjoying a peaceful environment for relaxation, reflection, and creative writing exercises; (3) connecting with other writers and sharing writing experiences.
Why is it called Black Bear Retreat?
The name of the retreat was inspired by this black bear who visited the first group of participants.
Where does it take place?
In Nederland, Colorado, nestled at the eastern edge of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Participant accommodations are in town; group discussions and writing exercises take place in my home at the edge of a forest; I am your driver for sightseeing outings.
What does Nederland have to explore?
In addition to our rugged mountain landscape, our local history as an 1800s gold and silver mining town. In summer we see abundant wildflower fields. In autumn we see golden aspen trees. You will want to bring your camera! All photos on this site are taken by me at places we will likely see during the retreat.
“The magical Black Bear Writing Retreat opened my eyes and my heart. I loved the writing exercises. Old words flowed in new patterns and surprising rhythms. The experience has colored my writing in unexpected ways, and I am grateful for the time I spent in Nederland.”
Barbara Robertson, award-winning travel essayist and entertainment journalist.
“I felt good about the balance between group interaction and individual free time. I paid so much more attention to sensory details around me because you asked us to write about our hikes. The group sessions pointed out strengths and weaknesses for all of us in a constructive, helpful way that I found particularly validating.”
Nancy LaTurner, author of Voluntary Nomads, Transit of Venus, and Chama Cormorants.
“I loved the way you scheduled the days — I loved the hikes and the assignments. And I loved the dinners; they were so key in bonding us all together and revealing each other’s life and writing experiences.”
Cynthia Darling, English Teacher and contributing writer to Teaching Music magazine and New York Family magazine.
What is unique about Black Bear Retreat?
The retreat strives to foster a camaraderie between writers. This is a peer group, not a workshop with a teacher or renowned literary figure to whom the average writer may not relate. This is about connection on a meaningful level to other writers. These five days are for examining and/or discovering our own strengths and weaknesses as writers, sharing them with others, and learning from each others’ strengths and weaknesses.
At Black Bear Retreat, every participant has an equal voice. Group discussions revolve around three aspects of writing: the initial creative process, the editing and revision process, the publishing process. In each discussion, all writers will contribute their thoughts and experiences equally.
The retreat is also about actively exploring our environment (and writing about it), and sharing happy hours and meals.
Who is Black Bear Retreat appropriate for?
This retreat is for practicing writers with publishing experience or who have begun the publishing process , i.e., completed and submitted a manuscript (or short story, poem, etc.), even if it has not yet been accepted. It’s for writers who want to connect with and learn from others. It’s a support group for the typical writer who experiences ups and downs, has both strengths and weaknesses, needs to be uplifted in some ways and can uplift others in another way. Black Bear Retreat is limited to a small, intimate group of 4 participants in order to allow all participants an equal voice, as well as for the consideration of logistics such as lodging, meeting space, and sightseeing transportation.
It’s also for adventurers! Our itinerary will include hiking (mild grades, nothing strenuous) and driving rough 4×4 roads.
Why was Black Bear Retreat established?
I established it out of my own desire to connect with other writers. I’m not associated with any academia. I’m an independent writer working out of my home, with only a handful of writer friends and close associates.
As a worldwide traveler, people often insist I should publish a book about this or that experience, glibly implying that it is effortless to write and easy to get published. Owing to these misperceptions, I’ve found it difficult to talk to most people in a meaningful way about writing; it’s exhausting and demoralizing, as well as very isolating. I established the Black Bear Retreat with the idea of connecting with other writers who understand the writing life — its trials and tribulations, as well as its triumphs.
Having been a participant in many workshops and peer-review writing groups, I’ve pulled together what I found to be the most valuable aspects into the structure of Black Bear.