Move your project forward.

THE WRITERS ADVANCE
One weekend. Get focused. Get encouraged. Get writing.

Next Retreat

Are you ready to move your project forward?

The biggest obstacle to your creative work is the incessant interruption of life. When you’re in the flow, you are the most creative and productive.

Invest in a weekend that will move your project ahead. No chores. No obligations. Plenty of time for writing. Optional group feedback and one-on-one coaching available.

Finish the outline you’ve been struggling with. Complete the proposal your agent asked for. Wrap up the ebook you’ve been meaning to put on your website for new subscribers. Move your manuscript forward 5 or 10 thousand words.

This is not a “sit-and-listen-to-experts” conference. It’s not a “drink-wine-and-get-backpats-for-being-a-writer” retreat. This is a working weekend, in a comfortable environment, with a small number of other writers who also came to write.

Retreat from the distractions of your life. Advance your project.

Reviews

The support and encouragement provided, amidst the beautifully relaxing environment of Mt Angel Abbey opened my heart for a flow of words to spill onto the page! If you desire a place for your writing to move forward, this retreat is a gift!

One of the best writing events I’ve ever attended. Not only did I get to engage with other writers and learn some writing insight, but I also got TONS of uninterrupted time to WRITE on my current WIP.

Marc considered every detail to make this an experience that would motivate, encourage and challenge. I enjoyed having the space to write and process the writing journey with others… The amenities were lovely, and I left feeling inspired to keep pressing on in this project that has experienced so many stops and starts over the last few years. Not any more…Onward!

This writer’s retreat was the perfect combination of open time to write, access to helpful counsel regarding my project, and great, guided conversation with other writers. The food, venue, and company were all top-notch, and Marc is an incredibly insightful and helpful coach to have around!

Venue

The St. Benedict Guesthouse & Retreat Center
Mount Angel Abby

Resting atop a hill rising beside the small Willamette Valley town of Mt. Angel, Oregon, is an ideal place for the kind of reflective work that writers do. This is the St. Benedict Guesthouse at the Mount Angel Benedictine Abbey.

Hospitality is one of the monks’ ministry. The guesthouse features private guest rooms each with their own bath, multiple meeting rooms, both conference style and more informal, as well as a many peaceful areas for sitting, reflecting, and conversation.

Accommodations

The Guest Rooms

You’ll stay in a private guest room, simple but similar to a high-quality hotel. Rooms feature queen beds, a small writing desk, and a private bathroom which includes a large shower. Quality linens, blankets, and towels are provided.

The Guesthouse is a smoke-free and pet-free building, with the exception of medically-required service animals.

Food

The Guesthouse provides high-quality meals prepared on site from local, seasonal, and as often as possible, monastery grown foods for each meal. In addition, coffee, tea, and other beverages as well as fresh fruit and cookies are available throughout the day.

After spending a couple years writing circles around a memoir idea, Marc’s writing retreat launched my project in a clear direction. I was able to gain focus and perspective through personal mentorship and constructive feedback from other writers. In addition to brainstorming, meaningful conversations, quality meals and beautiful surroundings I was able to write nearly 10,000 words over the weekend and have doubled my writing productivity since attending. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to take their creative project to the next level. I’ll be back.

Astrid Melton, WA1 Participant

What to Expect

Time to Write

Unlike many writer’s events, you won’t sit and listen to experts teach. This weekend you will write. You’ll have the opportunity for group feedback, personal coaching, and peer learning, but your main goal–and where you’ll spend the bulk of your time–is to write. Our goal is to support you so you can connect deeply with your project, make headway, and leave excited about your writing again.

A Motivational Schedule

The schedule for the weekend is built around our shared mealtimes. Everything else is optional. Each day includes meals, blocks for writing, and optional blocks for feedback or coaching. Here’s an example of the schedule from a previous weekend. The schedule will be similar to this, adapted to the venue and improvements to the process.

A Spiritual Atmosphere

The Abbey is a Benedictine monastery.  In this space of intentional spiritual community, you’ll also find yourself surrounded by spiritual art, plenty of reflective spaces, and have access to a renowned theological library. You are welcome to participate in the Liturgy of the Hours, the daily schedule of prayers conducted by the Monks. Whether your writing is religious or spiritual in nature or not, you’ll find this environment perfect for reflection and creativity.

A simple, tested process.

Many writers struggle with both time management and staying focused.  The weekend will begin with a brief tutorial on the Pomodoro technique, a simple but incredibly effective tool to overcome this. Participants who have implemented this process have seen bursts of productivity that surprised them. Weekend participants have written 5000, 8000, even as much as 15,000 words over a two-day weekend using this process.

One-on-one Coaching

You’ll have the option of one-on-one coaching with me or another qualified coach. We’ll help you connect dots, fine-tune your premise, iron out your logical and narrative flow, or work through any obstacle to your project or writing process.

Group Feedback

Each mealtime we’ll discuss our project and current hurdles. You’ll also be able to request a group session where any of the participants who want to join in can support you in a “mastermind style” feedback session.

Great Food

You’ll be served fantastic scratch-cooked meals for breakfast, lunch & dinner. In addition, coffee, tea as well as other beverages and snacks will be available throughout the day. If you need a little boost to keep the creative juice flowing, you’re covered. The Guesthouse can accommodate vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dietary needs, as well as some food allergies.

Comfortable Rooms

The Guesthouse rooms are similar to small, high-quality hotel rooms. Each room has a queen bed with two side tables, a side chair, a writing desk with a chair, a small closet, and a private bathroom including a large shower. Pillows, linens, blankets, and towels are provided. A limited number of rooms have two twin beds for friends who want to share a room. Email for details about this.

Questions

What are the COVID-19 precautions for this event?

The monks at Mt. Angel have taken COVID seriously and have put in place the following measures, which would apply to us in our time at the guesthouse. First, they have limited themselves to 30% of normal capacity. Additionally, they encourage 6’ social distancing and require masks in all public spaces where this distancing can’t be maintained. There are hand sanitizing stations almost everywhere. They have also removed all self-service food and beverage options. At mealtimes, they observe a new serving protocol. Tables are sterilized before meals with a clear indicator, so you won’t sit at a table that has been used without being cleaned. Food is served by servers, with no guests touching anything, and all beverages and condiments are in single-serving containers. Even seating in the large Abbey church has been marked out for social distancing, with every other pew closed, and clear indications of where to sit. In addition to the above measures, our “home base” is a meeting room large enough to accommodate our group with whatever level of social distancing each person is comfortable with. We’ve have changed the schedule so that we won’t be doing much talking or feedback over meals, a time when of necessity masks are removed. Due to the nature of the event and the Abbey itself, it’s quite possible to be by yourself for most of the day, in spaces where there is no risk of interacting closely with another person.

Where is the Guesthouse? What is the Abbey?

St. Benedicts Guesthouse at the Mount Angel Abbey, in Mount Angel, Oregon. Mount Angel Abbey is a Benedictine monastery that houses both a community of Benedictine monks as well as a small seminary. The guesthouse is a part of the monastery.

You can learn more about the Abbey at their website: www.mountangelabbey.org

The abbey is about an hour south of Portland, Oregon, and about an 80-minute drive from Portland International Airport.

What’s included in the cost?

This is an all-inclusive retreat. Registration includes a private room with a personal bathroom and shower, linens and towels, delicious natural meals made from scratch on-site for every meal, all the coffee, tea, and snacks you need to sustain you. Optional one-on-one coaching and group feedback will be available, and you’ll find the environment encouraging and supportive with gentle accountability to focus on your writing.

The retreat includes Friday dinner, Saturday all three meals, and Sunday breakfast and lunch. If you add on Thursday as an additional writing day, you’ll also get all the additional meals necessary from when you arrive through lunch on Friday.

What’s this about adding another day?

The main retreat is Friday 1 PM – Sunday after lunch, but you can add a whole day to your retreat by registering for the add-on day. Think of all the extra time for writing! The add-on day fee includes an additional night of accommodations, all the added meals for your extra day, and more time to access one-on-one coaching. You can check into your room at 3 PM on Thursday, but you can arrive as early as you like and make use of the quiet and focus of the Abbey to get started writing.

Is this a religious retreat?

The short answer is no.

The long answer? It can be if you want it to be. Hosting the Writers Advance weekend is a way that I use my gifts and experience to encourage and empower writers. For me, that’s a ministry, but the retreat itself is not a religious retreat. The aim of the weekend is to help you take tangible steps forward on your writing project.

If you want a more spiritual focus for your time, you may choose to participate in the available spiritual practices at the Abbey like observing the Hours with the monks, sitting with a Monk for spiritual direction, or walking the Stations of the Cross meditation, but those are all optional activities. I am also a pastor, and able and willing to sit with you in that capacity, if that’s something that would serve you.

If you are not a spiritual or religious person, you will find the Abbey to be a peaceful and reflective environment, but you will not be obligated to participate in any religious activities.

Is this only for Christians or Christian authors?

No. Most of the authors I personally know and work with are Christians, and many of them write books specifically for Christians, but the focus of the weekend is to help you–whoever you are–take concrete steps forward in completing your project. The process we use will work for any genre, style or audience. Past participants have included both Christians and authors of other faiths, or no faith at all, writing memoir, fiction, religious non-fiction, and self-help. The environment is positive and encouraging, and any writer who wants to focus on their writing with our support is welcome.

Is there Homework?

Just a little to get things rolling. You’ll be asked to provide (about a month ahead of time) a bio and a statement of your writing goals for the weekend. If you’re working on a project like a book, you’ll also be asked to share your working title and a summary of the project. You’ll also receive some optional prompts to encourage you to get the ball rolling before you arrive.

What if I’m flying in?

That’s exciting! Here’s the information you need. The venue is located in a small town (Mt. Angel, Oregon) a little more than an hour south of Portland, Oregon. Fly into Portland International Airport (PDX). It’s very easy to get a cab, Uber or Lyft from the Airport. It’s about a 70-minute drive to the Abbey.

What about carpooling? That’s a possibility. People will be arriving at different times, especially since some will be adding on the extra early day, but everyone will be leaving near the same time, and since some participants are from the Portland area, getting a ride back to the airport should not be a problem. If you are flying in and would prefer to car pool, make sure you email me and let me know. We’ll see what we can arrange.

Why not book a hotel and do this on your own?

That’s a great idea! You should do it. Seriously. But you know what? Most of us don’t. Maybe it seems self-indulgent. Maybe because we’re not famous writers we don’t feel like we’ve earned it. I don’t know why but most of us don’t do it. So, if that idea works for you, please do it. It will be an incredible investment in your writing life.

But there is something the Writers Advance offers that going to a hotel on your own can’t. The Writers Advance is a writer retreat with a small group of other writers. You won’t be alone. You’ll be with people who get the struggle. You’ll be able to get feedback on your work. You’ll be able to get one-on-one coaching. And best of all, you’ll be handed a simple structure that can help you keep moving forward, and gentle accountability to spend your time writing.  No hotel room can give you that!

What is the refund policy?

Due to the nature of events like this, deposits are not refundable. However, if your plans change, you can move your reservation to a future event or transfer the deposit to someone else. If you are transferring the reservation to someone else, please send me their name and email so I can set up their reservation. In either case, email me with that request.

Reserve Your Space

2021 Spring Retreat

Spring Retreat

$419
April 23-25, 2021
The 2021 Spring Writers Advance Mt. Angel Abbey
  • April 23-25. 2020
  • 2 nights, 3 days writers weekend
  • 5 meals (Options for vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, & allergies)
  • Snacks, coffee, tea, juice, and fresh fruit available all day.
  • Private room (Queen bed and private bathroom).
  • Hours and hours for writing.
  • Optional Private coaching and group feedback.
Want to add an extra writing Day?
  • $159 adds a full day. Arrive anytime on Thursday, the 22nd.
  • Includes up to 3 add'l meals & another night in your room
  • One-on-one coaching to help you get your goals for the weekend on track.
  • Add this on during registration.
Payment Options
  • Pay in full or make a deposit to hold your space.
  • Retreat is $419 in full, or a $200 deposit, with the balance due 30 days prior to the event.
  • Retreat + Extra Day is $578 in full, or a $300 deposit, with balance due 30 days prior to the event.
2020 Fall Retreat

Fall Retreat

$419
Nov. 12-14, 2020
The 2021 Fall Writers Advance Mt. Angel Abbey
  • November 12-14. 2021
  • 2 nights, 3 days writers weekend
  • 5 meals (Options for vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, & allergies)
  • Snacks, coffee, tea, juice, and fresh fruit available all day.
  • Private room (Queen bed and private bathroom).
  • Hours and hours for writing.
  • Optional Private coaching and group feedback.
Want to add an extra writing Day?
  • $159 adds a full day. Arrive anytime on Thursday, the 22nd.
  • Includes up to 3 add'l meals & another night in your room
  • One-on-one coaching to help you get your goals for the weekend on track.
  • Add this on during registration.
Payment Options
  • Pay in full or make a deposit to hold your space.
  • Retreat is $419 in full, or a $200 deposit, with the balance due 30 days prior to the event.
  • Retreat + Extra Day is $578 in full, or a $300 deposit, with balance due 30 days prior to the event.