top of page
  • Writer's pictureShawndra Holmberg, CPO-CD

Fuel Your Passion for Writing with Retreats, Conferences & Writing Groups

I’m finishing up a week at Chautauqua Institution. Though it’s not a writers’ conference or a writing retreat, nor did I take any writing classes this time, I still count this week as a retreat. It’s 7500 people wandering around listening to speakers from all over, learning about the world we live in and gaining a different perspective on religion, politics, environment, society, and the arts. This week’s theme is A Life of Literature.

My husband and I first came to Chautauqua for a weekend place to stay while we enjoyed some time at the local brewery, Southern Tier Brewery. Then we learned about the summer program—nine weeks of wow! We also went “off season” numerous times for our own personal writing retreats. That’s where I learned the power and pleasure that a schedule revolving around my writing can provide.

We have also planned vacations around writers’ conferences. The inspiration, motivation, and enthusiasm we came away with was almost more important than the understanding that we gained of writing and the business.

Here’s my “working” list of retreats, conferences, classes, and writers’ groups. Please share others that you’ve heard about or participated in. As with all things on the web, do your due diligence to evaluate these opportunities. I’ve placed a star next to the ones I’ve participated in and can personally vouch for in yellow.


Storyknife Writers Retreat April through October Alaska, USA || Homer, AK Two- and four-week residencies

Writing By Writers Residencies Various times Multiple places available One- and two-week residencies (though none allow spouses or children, several are pet-friendly)

Check out the list of Writing Residencies Various times Multiple places available

Iceland Writers Retreat April || 2024: 4/24-4/28 Reykjavik, Iceland They call it a retreat but its workshops, panel discussions, lectures, tours, and time to write


San Francisco Writers Conference February || 2024: 2/15 – 2/18 California, USA || San Francisco, CA

Southern California Writers’ Conference February || 2024: 2/17 – 2/19 California, USA || San Diego, CA Workshops

Pikes Peak Writers Conference April || 2024: 4/26 – 4/28 Colorado, USA || Colorado Springs, CO Craft and business workshops for all levels. Agents, editors, publishers

Writing Heights (formerly Northern Colorado Writers) May || 2024: not set yet HYBRID || Colorado, USA & Online Two scholarships available

Sun Valley Writers’ Conference July || 2024: not set yet Idaho, USA || Sun Valley, ID Readers, writers, and artists

Southern California Writers’ Conference September || 2023: 9/15 – 9/17 California, USA || Las Angeles/Irvine, CA Workshops

🌟 The Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference October || 2023: 10/12-10/14 Arizona, USA || Tempe, AZ Craft talks, panels, and workshops

Gotham Writers Conferences HYBRID || New York City, USA & Zoom Panels, presentations, and pitching roundtables

  • Genre || 2023: 8/12-8/13

  • Literary || 2023: 11/18-11/19

  • Nonfiction || 2024: 2/24-2/25

  • Children’s Lit || 2024: 5/18-5/19

Redmond Writers’ Summit Spring of 2024 Oregon, USA || Redmond, OR Two-day intensive preparing a manuscript


🌟 Chautauqua Institution, CLSC classes Summer, June through August New York USA || Chautauqua, New York Readers, writiers and artists

Gotham Writers Year round Online & Zoom

NaNo Prep 101 Free 6-week course Online at your own speed Fiction but hey there might be stuff that applies to NF as well

Writing By Writers Workshops & Adventures in various places


🌟 NaNoWriMo November Online & local groups + Goals Though it focuses on a Novel, nonfiction writers are welcome!

🌟 NaNoWriMo Camp April & July Online & local groups + Goals

California Writers Club BRANCHES Throughout the year California, US Various groups by location

Pikes Peak Writers Colorado Springs, CO, US but most look virtual (Zoom) Critique groups, boot camps, other events

Writing Heights (formerly Northern Colorado Writers) Throughout the year Northern Colorado, US || Lafayette, CO Critique group, roundtable, lunch & learn

Pennwriters Pennsylvania, US & elsewhere (Area 7) Classes, critique groups, area meetings

Writers’ League of Texas Throughout the year Austin, Texas, US but most look virtual (Zoom) Events, classes, and more


The Colorado Chautauqua Colorado, US Lodging, events, outdoor activities, dog-friendly

The Barn at Boyds Mills Pennsylvania, US Personal or Small Group Retreats

Chautauqua Institution New York, US Maple Inn and Heather Inn are our favorite places to stay and write

Resources to find more…

  • ShawGuides might be a resource to find a writers’ conference or writing workshop. Some links are out of date, but it might be a starting place for your search. Always evaluate the opportunity before you purchase.

Pick a retreat, conference, class, group or create something of your own this year. Experience how it encourages, motivates, and inspires you to show up and write.

So… how will you grab time and space for your writing this year?

Happy Writing!



  • Support your writing and your creativity with retreats, conferences, classes, or groups

  • Invest in your writing and in yourself


2: a place of privacy or safety : REFUGE

“Retreat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jul. 2023.

So... can your creativity trust you?

P.S. I debated whether I was going to include this. But I finally decided that I was probably not the only one who’s struggling with personal, family, and life challenges right now. I wanted to share my challenge and how I’m still placing a priority on my writing.

Though my husband can no longer write his stories because of his Primary Progressive Aphasia, we’re turning our personal co-writing retreats into a writing retreat for me and a photography retreat for him. Which of course means we must choose beautiful and interesting locales for his pictures 😉.

However, I’m struggling with the idea of going to writing conferences or retreats without him. Still I know that I have to put myself first sometimes. Whether you’re a parent or a caregiver, sometimes you need time and space just for you without the responsibilities of another person. This is true even if you have no care responsibilities for a child or adult. Sometimes you need the freedom to eat when you want, sleep when you want, write when you want, and think when you want, rather than when it fits in with the whole schedule of tasks and responsibilities.

Things will continue to get worse for him and his condition, so for now I’m grabbing the opportunities that we can both enjoy.

P.P.S. I just found the highlights for the Chautauqua 2024 Season. My 2023 Season week isn’t over but I’m already looking at grabbing time and space for my writing life in 2024.


retreat 2: a place of privacy or safety : REFUGE “Retreat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jul. 2023.

TL;DR  Support your writing and your creativity with retreats, conferences, classes, or groups Invest in your writing and in yourself
TL;DR (To Long; Didn't Read) | Recap


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page