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When I first dreamed about leading writing retreats, I wasn’t sure exactly why I wanted that role. I’ve been a writer all my adult life and probably into my childhood and adolescence. Teaching wasn’t something that attracted me. Though, when I look at the trajectory of my life, I see now that I have consistently put myself in the position of wanting to share what I am working to understand. It’s not necessarily that I think I know something that others don’t. It’s that I think I know the way to some things, especially when it comes to the writing life. That’s what my writing retreats are all about.
I’ve lead five now. People come from all over to take this stand for their writing, no matter where they are in their writing journey. Paris, Australia, Hawaii, Florida, New York, Boston, North Carolina, Washington, California, Chicago etc. Some of them have books in progress. Some of them have books in them that they are hungry to write. Afraid to write. Some have never written anything beyond their Christmas letter. But all of them are in a place of wanting growth in their lives.
I am not a life coach nor a therapist. My strength comes from years of trying to find the intersection of heart and mind and craft that is writing. I have found how to get to that place, and re-visit it as my central practice. My way of life. And sometimes my way tolife. I know how to keep it sacred. I know how to get there even when my mind tells me it’s dangerous ground.
I know how to stand there anyway. Kneel there if I have to. Lie supine…prostrate if need be. I also know how to jump up and down there in delight.
All that said…I care about being a guide for people. To help them find their own intersection of heart and craft and mind that is writing. So, I have developed a three day retreat that brings you into the place of simultaneous inspiration…and discomfort…that we all feel when we are in the act of creating. I have designed exercises that stretch the mind and challenge you to bare yourself to your greatest depths, both privately on the page, and witnessed by the group in support and safety.
Over the course of the retreat, there is plenty of laughter. And crying, too. Breakthroughs happen just when people least expect them. At my last retreat, on the first day, one of the women announced, “I hate writing.” By the end of the retreat, she had an idea for a book, the structure to expedite it, a title, a first sentence, and a glow in her eyes that I know means she will write it.
That’s what I’m there for. To help you put your finger on the pulse of what it is that you want to create on the page. One of my retreaters arrived as a memoirist. She left realizing she’s a poet. Another had a well-developed manuscript that she’d been working on for years. After reading aloud from the prompt I’d given her that day, experiencing the group’s glowing response to a new, vibrant, wildly alive voice…she took her manuscript, and threw it in the camp fire. “That’s the voice we want in your book,” we told her. And in that moment, she knew she had full possession of that voice. She was out of her way.
As the retreat progresses, each time I’ve seen an arc occur. People start off high. Then they free fall into their fears. And then they land safely…and soar again to new heights. One group is co-writing an anthology to publish. Another has created an online writing group in which they give each other weekly prompts, based on the work we’ve done together.
Another has planned a reunion next fall and challenged themselves to spend the year working on their writing project, whether it’s a book, a collection of poems, essays, short stories. The writing life is solitary. It can be lonely and it can be daunting.
The power of sharing your work with other people, in a safe setting, with a nurturing leader is vast.
On my last retreat, after everybody left, I lay on the dock at the Walking Lightly Ranch here in Montana. I put my finger in the lake and thought of each person I’ve worked with over the course of the last year—in Tulum, Mexico, the Oregon Coast, Montana…and I sent out a ripple for each one, watching as it moved in larger rings across the lake. That is what I know happens when a person takes a stand for themselves: it ripples. It can even change the world.
It is my deep and profound honor to be able to help facilitate this sort of experience for people. I will be leading these retreats throughout the year in Montana. In addition to morning and evening writing class I offer one-on-one sessions with me, and a full edit of your pre-submitted work. Then, to balance the creative process with your physical being, depending on the season, I offer guided hiking,cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and year-round equine therapy, as well as yoga. All this is set deep in the woods of northwest Montana, on 400 acres, surrounded by state land, at the Walking Lightly Ranch which delivers food and spirit in a way that just plain stuns me.
I welcome and encourage you to take this stand for your writing, wherever you are on the page. I will post my upcoming retreats on my website, and look forward to hearing from you at Laura@lauramunsonauthor.com.
Laura’s work changing the Suffering Artist paradigm into Empowered Artist is going to reshape the world. If she has to do it one writer at a time, she will.
–Cindy Webb Montana
Laura Munson was a master at bringing out my voice, and the voices of all my fellow writers. Her retreat was one of the most empowering experiences of my life. I learned about writing, but I also learned about myself in ways that were unexpected. In addition, we all formed an amazing bond with each other! The totality of the place, the people, the work and the food was priceless.
–Wendy Hill Westwood, MA
The retreat was a perfect balance of comfort and fear. Laura Munson creates a safe place for writers of every level to uncover their true voice, sometimes for the first time. Witnessing it was as close to a miracle as I’ve ever come.
–Lynn Trudell Ithaca, New York
Laura’s retreat re-ignited my creative spirit. Her intuitive guidance, along with imaginative writing exercises, group readings and individual feedback, helped me re-focus and re-energize. I am more committed than ever to my craft.
–Mary Novaria Los Angeles, CA
Laura Munson can help you breakthrough writing blocks, make your writing sing and pull those stories out of you and she does. I left Montana inspired and on fire to write.
–Erika Putnam Boise, Idaho
The universe is always sending out messages-songs and stories that need to be told and heard. A retreat with Laura Munson and the wonderful crew at the Walking Lightly Ranch tunes that channel in loud and clear. Run there with your heart wide open. Receive. Be forever blessed.
–Dixie B. Sarasota, FL
Laura Munson transformed my attitude toward writing – from thinking that no one would be interested in my story to feeling rejuvenated with confidence and desire to complete it. The peaceful setting of Walking Lightly Ranch and three days of sharing with the other incredibly different yet like-minded and funny women filled me with inspiration and motivation, and gifted me with 9 new friends of the heart and written word.
– Christie Boston, MA
they gathered needing
that thrill of discovery
eleven women strong
rule keepers, rule breakers
then it begins to fall away
fears, anxieties surface
fooling with words
becomes painfully intense
the act of writing cathartic
and then it begins to make sense
eleven powerful women
broken open, sharing from their depths,
caring for each other
from their souls,
then they begin to return to wholeness
vulnerable, brave, wondrously made
women forming a community
of companions on the journey
accepting their gifts
their communal connection,
with open hands and hearts
then and only then
does it all begin
to come together
Jan Myhre September 2012
Here’s a blog post about my Montana retreat