Thursday, April 29, 2010

Zaraha Heckscher's Writing Staycation: A Week Long Writing Retreat at The Writer’s Center

Our guest today is Zaraha Heckscher, a new workshop leader and co-author of the book How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Overseas. She has also written numerous articles that have appeared in books and the online travel magazine, where she serves as Contributing Editor. Heckscher teaches professional writing at the University of Maryland at College Park. She is a breast cancer survivor who prefers to be known as a "cancer thriver." She blogs at

This winter, while editing the manuscript for my novel, I had a vision: A quiet space where I could spend a week focusing on nothing but my writing. Preferably in the company of other writers to help me stay focused. With a few workshops and other treats. In other words, a writing retreat.

Then I checked into writing retreats and discovered that most are two week residential programs that require expensive travel and have no accommodations for families. That doesn’t fit my budget or my busy schedule as a working mom.

So I called The Writer’s Center. Sunil and Charlie agreed with me that there must be many people out there looking for a practical, affordable in-town writing retreat.

With their help, I’ve created a Writing Staycation – a retreat for all of you who crave more time to write, want the structure of a retreat, but just can’t get out of town.

The Writing Staycation will take place at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Monday through Friday, June 7-11, from 10 am to 5 pm with optional evening activities.

My goal for the Writing Staycation is to create an atmosphere that feels like we’re in the cabin in the woods. A sacred space, in the middle of busy Bethesda. Sacred time in the middle of your busy life, for you to write, write, write.

Each day will be organized around writing time, with optional activities including lunch-time speakers, dinner events, and a daily neighborhood walk.

I’m thrilled that I have been able to secure some wonderful lunch speakers for the retreat, all successful writers with different perspectives on the writing life. The guest speakers will stay after their presentations for one-on-one sessions with participants who want some extra advice and support – for example, ideas on poetry workshops from NPR commentator Reuben Jackson or personalized tips on finding an agent from Shannon O'Neill of the Sagalyn Literary Agency.

Our other speakers will include Charles Jensen, poet and Director of The Writer's Center, and James Mathews, author of Last Known Position, a winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Short Fiction.

I’ll be at your disposal all week as well. Whether you want help getting started with a new writing project, feedback on a draft manuscript, or strategies for getting published, I will be there. I’ll also create a packet for each participant with writings, resources, and worksheets to help you stay on track with your writing project.

I’ll also pamper you a bit with free coffee, specialty teas, and healthy snacks.

For those who can stay in the evening, we’ll have dinner events that build community, develop skills, and provide more time for writing.

And my own writing? My manuscript is almost complete thanks to other Writer's Center classes. But if there is a spare moment at the retreat, I’ll have pen and paper available to jot down ideas for my next project.

Sign up for the Writing Staycation or learn more at The Writer's Center's Web site.


johnny said...

I'm not a writer, but a wannabe. Do you think Staycation would be worth the money for me (as $575 is a bit steep for me)?

Zahara said...

Hi Johnny, We have reduced the price of the Staycation retreat to $360 with a further discount for Writer's Center members. Feel free to contact me if you want to chat about the Staycation to see if it meets your needs. Writer wannabes are welcome! Best, Zahara Heckscher