Escape the winter blues and reboot your writing mojo at RELAX AND WRITE IN PARADISE 2023. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the island’s many secluded beaches, reignite your creative self, indulge your inner writer and learn from one of Australia’s most experienced writing teachers (yes, that’s me 🙂 )
Connect with other writing women and write up a storm!
Is your creative spirit crying out for a little TLC? Come along and regain your love of writing and life at the nextRelax and Write Retreaton Magnetic Island in tropical Far North QueenslandatAmaroo on Mandalay.
From FRIDAY 2 JUNE – SUNDAY 4 JUNE 2023
Join like-minded women in a fun and supportive environment discovering just how much some deep relaxation can ignite your…
Oh yeah! It was when my lovely friend, and fellow yoga and writing retreat facilitator, Kerstin Pilz (see our Let’s Talk Writing episodes HERE) showed me this photo that I started to get very, VERY excited! I could see myself on that verandah, sitting on that bamboo daybed with my journal, the music of the stream washing away all the stress of the year, as I wrote freely and joyfully with a huge grin on my face. Oh yeah!
Can you feel it too? Is a retreat far from the busyness and bustle calling you? Is your creative spirit crying out for some loving care? Is it time to put yourself and your writing at the top of your priority list for once?
This retreat is super special : five nights, six days in the heart of rural Bali, staying at the amazing Bali Eco Stay resortwith two excellent :), experienced, creative writing facilitators, published authors, and yoga teachers, gently guiding you back to full health and happiness, and rejuvenating your creative powers! Or you could just dream the day away on your daybed if you like! Beautiful open air bungalows and yoga shala with all equipment provided.
All fresh organic vegetarian meals, airport transfers, special guided tour, cultural activities, complimentary massage and tarot reading, chakra cleansing, one on one session with a facilitator, 6 writing workshops, 5 morning yoga sessions, 4 restorative yoga breathing classes, and your beautiful bungalow accomodation is included! It will be heavenly!
Get your stories out of your head and onto the page and feel the joy of creating beauty of your own in the peace and tranquility of Bali. Whether you have an established writing practice or have always wanted to write but never had the time, this retreat is for anybody in need of some quality nurturing of their creative spirit.
Every day begins with gentle yoga, followed by breakfast and an inspiring writing workshop to get those creative juices flowing. The afternoons are free for your own adventures and explorations, naps, or 1:1 sessions with Kerstin & Edwina, a complimentary massage and tarot reading, and a guided writing group for those who like to write in company. At the end of the day, we come together again for some gentle yoga breathing exercises to help clear your mind and revitalise your energy. Everyevening we share incredible dinners and relax with conversation and readings.
All activities are optional.
This is your retreat. Our aim is to nurture your body, mind, and creative spirit so you leave feeling renewed, both as a writer and as a human being, with a whole lot of new writing; and bright, exciting ideas and refreshed energy to take home with you.
Not flash with cash right now? A $450 deposit will secure your place and you have until April to pay it off – payment plans available. Or save up for Bali in 2024 as I’m sure this will become an annual event.
Got a feeling you might be a writer? Do this quick quiz then add up your points and see how you go!
5 Sure Signs You’re a Writer
You READ – a lot. Is your bedside table, floor, desk covered in books half-read and to be read? Writers read voraciously and widely. Reading is your safe place and your sanctuary. Not only that, when writers read we’re always looking at how the book is written, especially books we love. We’re always thinking, “How did the author DO that?” Give yourself one point for every book in your pile.
You WRITE. Do you have a diary or journal you’ve been keeping for years? That’s a sure sign of a writer and the best way I know to develop your unique writing voice. Not keeping a diary? Do you write long letters, or emails or blog posts? Do you write to make sense of things? Write to bear witness? Does the act of writing give you pleasure? Does writing soothe you? Do you find comfort in shaping words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs? Give yourself 5 points if you write regularly. An extra 5 if you’ve kept a diary for over a year.
You REMEMBER IN STORIES. When you are remembering events from the past, do you find yourself writing the memory in your head? Are you forming a story with words rather than images, or images and words together. Are you trying to find a way to tell this story in a way that adds meaning to the random events of life? If so give yourself 5 points. If you’ve started writing these stories down, give yourself an extra point for every story you’ve started and an extra 5 for every story you’ve finished.
You DREAM IN STORIES or WAKE UP with story lines fully formed, or a CHARACTER wanting to be written. Do you remember your dreams and think, now THAT would make a great story! Do you wake up with the beginnings of stories in your head, with sentences, maybe whole paragraphs already formed? I woke up once with this: “My name is Condolezia, but I don’t speak Spanish. I was born the year after my brother who died the day he was born.” It was so strong I still remember it! Do you daydream in stories? Do characters tap you on the shoulder and demand to be heard, to have you write them into being? Give yourself 5 points if any of these nerdy, wordy visitations have happened to you. Give yourself an extra 5 for every story you’ve written from these prompts.
You FIND YOURSELF WRITING YOUR LIFE WHILE YOU’RE LIVING IT! This is a sure sign you’re a writer. If, in the midst of some life drama, turmoil, blessing or tragedy you find yourself searching for the words to describe it, then you are unmistakably a writer. The day my infant son died, I found myself sitting on the loo thinking about how I could ever write this terrible story. Thinking of a title. “Of Milk and Blood” I thought was pretty good. But I thought again and ended up with my Guide Through Grief instead. So if you’ve found yourself sitting among the wreckage, thinking up titles for this period of your life, then, I’m both afraid and proud to say – You, my friend, are a writer! It’s a blessing and a curse. Sometimes I just want to LIVE something without putting it into words. Give yourself 10 points if this kind of thing has happened to you.An extra 10 for every story inspired in a similar way, that you actually wrote.
SO, are you a writer?
IF YOU SCORED
0-5 points – you love to read, but haven’t actually spent much time writing or even thinking about writing. You’re happy to let others do the story telling. The world needs readers and we writers LOVE YOU!
5-15 points – you love reading and writing and a deep part of you is calling out to be expressed in words. All you need to do is give yourself a chance. Try getting some of those stories out of your head and onto the page! See here for a guided meditation to quiet that inner critic holding you back and get you started!
15 – 30 points – you’ve got what it takes to be a writer! In fact, you know it in your heart but you just need a little nudge to get those stories out of your head and onto the page. See here for a FREE WORKSHOP that will help you use all those great inspirations and thoughts to create stories.
30 points and over – CONGRATULATIONS! YOU’RE A WRITER! Yes you are! You know this, you’ve been writing and getting some of those ideas onto paper. Writing is a rewarding and fulfilling lifestyle. Writers are always observing and learning and creating meaning through words. Words bring comfort and order to our lives. We can create something beautiful from all we experience, even the darkest moments. See here for an affordable live online course in creative writing that will give you all the craft knowledge you need to make your stories engaging and compelling and, most of all, publishable!
WHATEVER YOU SCORED, if you’re reading this post, something is calling you to writing. Consider yourself on notice. Sooner or later you’re going to have to get those stories out of your head and onto the page. See my FREE WORKSHOP and then check out my UPCOMING CRASH COURSE IN CREATIVE WRITING
Let me help you set out on the magical journey of writing! I’ve been writing and publishing for over 20 years and have been teaching creative writing at universities, schools, festivals, at the Queensland Writers Centre and in the community since 2005. I’ve helped more writing students than most people have had hot dinners, so let me help you make a start on your writing adventures too. See more about me HERE.
Now, stop reading and start writing!
Wishing you the joy of creativity this holiday season. May you and yours connect in love and harmony and may the year ahead be filled with fun, creative adventures, lots of laughter and friends and fantastic good luck! YAY!
Springbrook turned on another weekend in the clouds for our memoir retreat and cloaked our cosy cabins in mist and magic perfect for writing and learning about writing and sitting around the fire at night sharing our writing with like-minded women. And what a lovely gentle group of writerly souls it was. The special magic of women, listening to and supporting each other, brought new friends together and formed new writing groups to cheer each other on.
We feasted on warming wholesome home-cooked meals prepared with love and care by our super-cookie and talented writer, Gay Liddington, who’d just completed the first draft of her own memoir, so she had more to share than just food! In the mornings we relaxed with gentle yoga and, as a special treat on Sunday, Dolina gave us all complimentary relaxation acupuncture treatments! Heavenly! Our lovely masseuse Ann gave luxurious hot oil massages late into the nights, so we were all well and truly blissed out and feeling pampered as we went to sleep with our electric blankets, listening to rain pattering on the roof.
Workshops got us thinking about our projects in different ways (GO DEEPER!) and got new writers putting words on the page. I’m always happily surprised by the beautiful stories that emerge from these sessions. A highlight for me was Saturday night readings around the fire. So many unique and fascinating stories. Dolina’s dead dog with oozing eyes wearing bonnet and booties may never leave my mind! I just love seeing the look on writers’ faces as they share their work and have their voices heard and affirmed. YAY!
Here are some reviews from the weekend:
“A life changing weekend. I’ve come back with such a different view on my writing and feel really empowered generally. I had reached a point with this project where I felt like I was stumbling in the dark, and this retreat and all the amazing women guided me to the light switch!
I will definitely be back next year. I aim to arrive with my first published book.”
Erin Benjamin (retreat participant October 2022)
“Memoir writing is not my thing, or so I thought. After last weekend’s Relax and Write Retreat, I am inspired to craft at least a ‘slice of life’. Edwina’s enthusiasm and encouragement are infectious. Connecting with others who aspire to put their lives on the page and sharing our experiences became an unexpected joy.”
Here are a few other comments from our feedback form:
“I came on retreat not expecting so many experienced writers and was a bit overwhelmed at first. But everyone was there for each other. It’s always great spending time in groups of women. The yoga, massage and food were excellent in a perfect location. Even the weather was good!” (retreat participant October 2022)
“Edwina and Gay made everyone feel safe. It made the whole retreat so intimate and joyful and when big emotions hit, the group support was genuine and amazing. I’ll be back!” (retreat participant October 2022)
“Edwina’s ability to create a safe, nurturing space allowed us to improve our technical skills of writing, gain clarity about our stories and confidence to release our voices into the world.”
Dolores Cummins (retreat participant October 2022)
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, these retreats are only as good as the women who come along and these women were the cream of the crop! It was an absolute delight to host this lovely gentle group who nurtured and supported each other so beautifully. How lucky am I that running these retreats is my job?
Bloody lucky! That’s what!
Three more retreats are planned for next year.
June 2 – 4 Magnetic Island – Elements of narrative
August 11 – 13 Springbrook – Feedback and revision retreat for those with some writing under their belts
October 20 – 22 Springbrook – Memoir and Life Writing
So what are you waiting for? Book your spot for next year now! Great Christmas present idea for writers – tell your family!! We always have a wonderful time.
I love these retreats, they are such a joyful part of what I do and I get to meet the most incredible inspiring women and make new friends every time!
Thank you to my wonderful helpers, especially dear Gay, and all the women who make these retreats so rewarding and so much fun.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – Retreats are only as good as the women who come along, and this was another amazing group of inspiring, accomplished, compassionate and creative women. For the first couple of days, we lived in the clouds as if we were inhabiting a mystical land out of time where all that mattered was story and human connection. The sun came out on Sunday so we could see the view from the top of our waterfall and soak in the light and new beginnings.
Over the retreat, we relaxed with yoga, got into the nitty gritty of redrafting in our workshops, created new writing goals for ourselves and had fun chatting around the fire and making collages. Our chief cookie, Gay, provided us with delicious warming winter meals THANK YOU GAY!!
Here’s what some of our retreaters had to say about their experiences over the weekend.
“I attended the Springbrook Relax and Write Retreat on 12-14 August, 2022. This turned out to be an amazing retreat. As a new author, I had no idea what to expect. I met the most amazing group of authors, ranging in age from 20 to me being the oldest at 76. They came from all walks of life and stages of their writing; and I found them very supportive.
One of the highlights for me was Edwina’s assessment of the first 10 pages of my manuscript and synopsis. We had sent these prior to the retreat, so she could assess them ahead of time. Then at the retreat, we met individually with Edwina for her to go over her suggestions with us and give us a written copy of this. I found this very helpful, comments on how to change to saying what I wanted to in a better way, specific feedback, picked-up on two important things which I had not realised were not clear to the reader, use of conjunctions rather than two words so it read more smoothly, and very positive. I left the meeting with Edwina feeling excited to continue editing my book.
Another highlight for me was the atmosphere. My life has included a lot of stress and the whole atmosphere at the retreat was relaxed and accepting. Each morning when I woke up, I simply felt peaceful. And I made friends who I hope to retain for a long time. I would recommend this retreat to any author. What a boost to my journey in writing.” Patty Sierra
“This was my first writing workshop and there was initially some doubt as to whether I should do it because I am only starting out as a writer. I went and found it fully rewarding. I felt like a valued member of the group, and to me these workshops are not just about the skills and connections but the journey and self-identity. I gained confidence and more clarity about my future direction. I highly recommend Edwina’s workshops.”
“Thanks for a lovely weekend Edwina! It was such a wonderful change from my regular responsibilities and I really loved the beautiful surroundings and being able to have long chats about writing with other kindred spirits. I came home recharged, inspired and wanting to do it all again.” Nikki Mottram author of soon to be released crime novel Crows Nest.
“Thank you Edwina for another amazing retreat. Springbrook was the perfect setting in the rain, with the wood fire, delicious home cooked vegetarian meals and a fabulous group of women. I was glad I sent you the ten pages, two weeks before, as it prompted me to get writing and it made what you were teaching more relevant. I really appreciated your professional feedback and after our session I felt more confident to share my writing with others. The gentle yoga and relaxation sessions were such a treat, as was the bodywork session with Monique. Definitely feeling relaxed AND I’m writing! See you again next year.”
Catherine Eadie (repeat retreater)
“Edwina is a passionate teacher and storyteller. She has a warm, down to earth way of connecting with people that makes everyone feel welcome. Her workshops are fun, creative and engaging — full of practical, helpful advice, and the deeper questions driving characters and story, making it ideal for writers at any stage in their work. I liked how Springbrook in the winter feels like a private retreat — tucked away in the Gold Coast hinterland, surrounded by national parks and hiking trails, with yoga workshops and the most amazing vegetarian food! Also enjoyed the late-night chats and readings by the fire, meeting and connecting with such an interesting group of women writers, who all shared a passion for great storytelling. I have to say that as a teacher myself, I am in awe of Edwina’s style of teaching and her ability to create a true, nurturing spirit of openness and community. At the end of the retreat, I felt connected to my work in a deeper way and like everyone else, totally inspired.”
Here are some more photos to tell the story for us.
THANK YOU to all the wonderful women who made this retreat so special. These retreats are a lot of work, as Gay our super cookie knows, but it is all worth it when we see women connecting with new writing buddies and having epiphanies about their writing projects.
So what are you waiting for? Come along and join the fun. Wander through the rainforest to the waterfall, write up a storm in workshops tailored specifically for memoir writers, get cosy in your own private little nun room and feast on delicious home cooked vegetarian meals. This retreat is best for those doing life writing and memoir and for new writers just wanting to put their toes in the water.
So treat yourself to a weekend rebooting your creativity, reconnect with nature and make new writing friends to cheer you on your way. YOU CAN BOOK IN HERE.
Put yourself on the top of your TO DO list for once. Women and non-binary folk welcome 🙂
“What a lift it was to be in such good company and in nurturing hands. On a tropical island in winter! I haven’t stopped writing since. I can feel my project moving forward every day. And my confidence expanding. Thanks, Edwina.”
Clare Leabeater (retreat participant Magnetic Island June 2022
Beautiful Magnetic Island turned on the sun for us in early June with the water still summer-warm. Wonderful, funny, kind and creative women writers from all over Queensland came together for a weekend of workshops, yoga and fun.
This was a special retreat for me because my sister Natasha came along, even though she’s a visual artist not a writer. As she pointed out on retreat, she’s been forced to be my student ever since we were little playing endless games of school. Guess who was always the teacher. Yours truly. It was very dull. Poor Tashy! However, these days my facilitating skills are much better than when I was four and it was lots of fun to share what I do with someone I love. Thanks for coming Tashy.
We started with drinks and nibbles and our first workshop, getting to know each other and the stories we are writing, or wanting to write. We started imagining new stories and went deeper into those already in progress.
Yoga every morning helped those most in need of a break from busy lives and burnout to recover and find their inner peace again. Only a few breaths away, ever.
Workshops at this retreat were focused primarily on developing narratives that are character driven – whether that character is our earlier selves for memoir, or fictional creations. Stories that spring from characters’ intrinsic goals and desires, strengths and weaknesses are naturally more compelling and meaningful.
During the long break during the day some mermaids headed to beautiful Alma Bay for swims and sunshine and walks along the cliffs to Geoffrey Bay. While others indulged in massages by Mel, and naps. Nurturing the creative spirit takes a lot of work!!
In the afternoon we did a workshop on screenplay. All writers have a lot to learn from this very plot focused form and it was exciting to see writers have their first attempts at writing for the screen.
Dinner that night was at Picnic Bay, where the not so great food was more than made up for by the magnificent view across the bay to the twinkling lights of Townsville in the distance.
Sunday was play day! First some serious reality checking on publishing pathways and the Australian publishing industry (everyone go out and buy a book by an Australian woman author!!), some goal setting then my favourite part of every retreat – our collages. We all start with the same pile of magazines yet, as you can see, everyone creates something unique and beautiful in their own ways.
Then to Alma Bay for a picnic and a swim, even some tarot reading! Then those who were staying an extra night all headed to Horseshoe Bay for sunset with some fish and chips. A beautiful end to our special weekend.
As always, it is the women who come to these retreats that make them so much fun and a joy to run. My greatest pleasure is making new pals and watching other new writing friendships forming. Best of all is seeing a light go on for a writer who has been stuck who suddenly sees the way forward for their project, or even better, seeing a newbie start writing furiously filled with enthusiasm for a story that is pouring from them in a frenzy.
Thank you to all the wonderful wise women who made this Maggie retreat so magical. Special thanks to Kathy Ewers – repeat retreater, talented writer and brilliant photographer who took the photos you see here. You can see more of her work and book her for your event HERE.
EARLY BIRD PRICES END JUNE 30!! Only $440 for the full weekend, all yoga and writing workshops focused on self-editing, all meals and single room accommodation. YES!! Even if you haven’t written much, or you started well but now you’re stuck, come along and get unstuck!!
Every writer knows the first draft is only a small part of the work involved in bringing a story to publishable standard. As Ernest Hemingway once famously said, “All first drafts are crap!” (I may be paraphrasing a little :)).
So how do we take a crappy first draft to something publishers are going to fight over? Rewriting! Or if we’re lucky just redrafting – though let’s face it if you’re a pantster like I was, you may have to write whole new sections. Twice I’ve cut back first drafts of 100 000+ words to 30 000 then rewrote the rest!
How do you self-edit?
The first step of any rewrite is the structural edit.
This looks at how the main elements of our story are working: characters, setting, voice, genre-expectations and plot. Mainly plot!
The best place to start is with a scene list – not just chapter headings but a list of every scene within every chapter. Include which characters are involved, where it’s set, what’s happening (clue – if nothing’s happening – cut now!) and the main focus of the scene, plus whether the scene is moving us towards Hope or Fear. Go through the whole manuscript and you’ll come up with a list of potentially hundreds of scenes.
Once you have this list it’s much easier to see any repetition, or worst of all, completely unnecessary scenes that are neither developing or illustrating character or moving the plot forward. This is when we press DELETE. Or, for chickens like me, this is when we cut these scenes and paste them into another document called “Good bits I may use later.” I have a few of these documents now for various projects and mostly they remain unused, but occasionally I’ll go back in and pull out a section that has become relevant again.
Your scene list will show you where your story starts to sink in the middle or if a character who was pivotal in the first half fades away in the second. You’ll be able to tell if a character is suddenly acting completely differently to who they were earlier, of if they have taken up too much page space – this often happens when we just go with the flow and let bossy or forceful characters have their way.
A scene list makes it easier to find any plot holes or if you’re building enough suspense or just having characters repeat themselves over and over without growth or change.
What tricks do you have up your sleeve to help you tackle the dreaded, but actually fun, second draft?
Have you got a project nearing the stage when it needs a proper evaluation and an objective rethink?
This special retreat, for women and non-binary writers with a project needing attention, has workshops to help you tackle the second draft, focusing on finding the heart of your story, distilling the themes, the structural edit, and plenty of tips to help with line editing and pitch documents too.
All in a stunning location with cosy single rooms with desks, beauty and peace, like-minded folk to share your story with in feedback groups, fantastic food and lots of fun.
I never cease to be astounded by the magic of women coming together on these retreats. This last retreat up at Koojarewon Youth Camp in Highfields near Toowoomba was no different. Women from their twenties to their late seventies bonded together, laughed, wrote, stretched relaxed, shared stories and supported each other with such kindness it really did feel like magic.
For the first time we had a doggy on camp, a lovely medical alert dog who sat in on all sessions and was a sweet fluffy presence.
We started as usual with bubbles and nibblies, getting to know each other as writers and as women. So many different stories and we hadn’t even started writing.
Once we did, stories poured from people, with laughter and tears and wonder. Beautiful stories from the heart. We focused in on memoir and life writing and how to make a compelling narrative from the memories of an entire lifetime. The situation and the story, the facts and the meaning we’ve found in those facts with the benefit of hindsight. Because for many of us, the reason we write is to make sense of life, to create meaning for ourselves from the seemingly random events that make us who we are.
We did a lot of writing and learning so it was fabulous to have our talented masseuse (and writer) Jani providing excellent massages to relieve those sore spots. Lots of very relaxed women floating around after their treatments.
On Saturday night, the effervescent Jacqui Carr, retired exotic dancer and writer, once more taught us how to strut our stuff with some pretty hilarious, rather than sexy results! We had a lot of fun J Gillian helped us all calm down with some songs around the fire pit and then we hit the sack. Only to be woken at 2:30 in the morning with an alarm and all the lights going on. An electrical storm had taken down a power pole and cut power to the district so all the back up lighting went on and couldn’t be turned off. We managed to get back to sleep though and allowed ourselves a bit of a sleep in.
Yoga on Sunday and party tricks left us deeply relaxed and ready to set some writing goals and discuss publication pathways. We were lucky enough to have a few independently published authors in the group, Terese Eglington, Virginia Miranda and Sallyanne Peters who could fill us all in on the process of dealing with different scenarios. I’m always happy to use the combined wisdom of the group. Everyone has something valuable to contribute.
We got so carried away doing our traditional collages that we went overtime, but it was all worth it to see the beautiful creations that hopefully will help our dreams to come true.
Here’s our hall of fame!
May all our dreams come true!
Wonderful women, bright and beautiful days among the big trees, everything so lush and green. Great food. Big smiles and happy hearts connecting.
I love these retreats and the magic of creative women coming together. Together we can do anything!
I’ll leave you with a quote I found for my collage:
“Everybody is talented because everybody who is human has something to express.”
Take care and keep smiling. Write like a fury and I’ll see you on retreat one day soon!
The first few pages of your book, or the first few paragraphs of a short story, have a heavy load to bear. These are the pages that make or break your chances with publishers or competition judges and, most importantly, readers. It’s best not to think about it too much when you’re doing a first draft. Just start writing and then, later, once you’ve written all the way to the end, you can figure out the best place to start and whether it’s working well.
Most importantly your first pages must:
1.HOOK THE READER! Something in those first pages must intrigue the reader and compel them to continue turning the page. But how? SET UP A QUESTION. You can engage a reader with your beautiful prose but really, most of us just want to get our teeth into a riveting story that…
Is your creative spirit crying out for a little TLC? Always wanted to write but don’t know where to start? Need to reboot your writing mojo and be inspired to tackle that project you’ve been thinking about forever? Come along and regain your love of writing and life at the next Relax and Write Retreat among the beautiful big trees.
From 3pm FRIDAY 22 October – 2 pm 24 October 2021
Join like-minded women in a fun and supportive environment discovering just how much some deep relaxation can ignite your imagination and get you writing again. Relax and unwind with gentle morning yoga sessions and get writing with innovative workshops designed to help move those stories out of your head and onto the page.