The Writers Advance

Get Inspired. Get Focused. Get Writing.
Move Your Project Forward.

It is rare, even as a professional communicator, that I give myself dedicated writing time, time to be creative, to plan and dream and think. The Writer’s Advance Retreat was. . .the best gift I’ve given myself professionally or personally in a long time. . .The accommodations are beautiful, the experience well-managed, and I am grateful for every minute.

Tara Rolstad, 4 time participant

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.

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.


Spend your time writing. If you want, you can also take advantage of one-on-one coaching, group readings, toolbox training sessions and more.

Time to Write

No crammed schedule of sessions here. A loose schedule is built around mealtimes and conversation, leaving large blocks of uninterrupted time for writing. We provide optional support activities, but your main job while you’re with us is to write — so we try to keep everything distracting out of your way.

No Stress

We take care of everything. Great food, well prepared. Comfortable private rooms with private bath. Beautiful, quiet, introspective settings. Plus ample encouragement and gentle accountability to keep you moving forward.

Here's What Participants Say

This was my third time attending The Writers Advance! The weekend provided the space and feedback to move my novel forward. I am thrilled with the support I received and progress I made! The participants are always amazing and the environment supportive. -Andrea

I came to Writer’s Advance to be productive and reach a writing goal – and I managed to write more words than ever before during this brief retreat. Every aspect of retreat was geared toward providing me and my fellow participants with focused writing time and support as a writer. I feel like I got more than I paid for, to be honest. The space was beautiful and inspiring. I had time and space to work. I got coaching that is helping me forge a writing career. And I connected with new, delightful friends. I cannot thank Marc enough for his hard work in putting this invaluable retreat together.

For most of my life I have thought I had a story that wanted to be written. However, although I had written a great many words, I had a lot of difficulty getting traction. Having two excellent coaches…allowed me to find a work flow that gave me the confidence that I can do this. It was especially helpful to have the time to do the work as we talked about sculpting the methodology. I would not have found the right balance between structure and intuition if I hadn’t been able to see how it worked in practice and then come back and talk to my coaches yet again to refine it…

Going into the writer’s advance weekend, my project had fallen to the back burner. I felt stalled out and unfocused. This weekend helped me refocus, prioritize, and get moving again. I moved through some personal hurdles and some project blocks and ended up with an additional 8000 words when it was all done. I love the environment Marc creates and will be back again.

Marc creates a space in which writers can create and collaborate. He provides meaningful feedback to support the writing process and individual pieces. I have participated twice now. Both times I have grown as a human and writer!

What a joy and gift to experience a pastor’s heart through Marc & The Writers Advance Weekend. I’ve never experienced anything like it in its unique and gifted delivery of wisdom, nurture & sacred space.

The event was a gift to myself. I needed the focused time, and also found direction from the coaching. I came away with a renewed passion for the stories I am writing for my family and some concrete ways to move forward.

A beautiful, spacious environment for words to find their way to the page. The wisdom, encouragement and experiences of all those who gathered were truly inspiring!

This Writers Advance was just what I needed to move a project forward that has been in the making for over a decade. The coaching I received helped me really overcome some major emotional barriers to progress, the practical guidance from Marc helped me really have a clear path forward and the emotional support of the group provided a thoroughly safe and enjoyable weekend. As an introvert, I wondered if having a retreat would lead me to feel I had to be interacting with people too much and take away from my writing time, but it was the perfect balance of connection and utter freedom to just write. The setting of the Abbey is serene and the food is delicious.

I’ve come to see Writer’s Advance as a gift I can’t afford NOT to give myself. I got more work done this weekend than I have in months, and to do it in a gorgeous, peaceful, comfortable location in the company and support of smart, quality people like Marc attracts? Invaluable. I’m deeply grateful.

This weekend re-energized my commitment to my writing craft. It was an excellent blend of accountability, flexibility, creativity, and guidance. I felt supported as a human and writer throughout the whole time there.

I came to the event unsure of whether or not my idea was worth pursuing, and not only did I get enough feedback and encouragement to move forward but I got some key ideas that helped me reorganize my structure and bolster the strength of my premise. Overall it was a huge jumpstart for a project that felt like it was on life-support coming into the weekend.

This was an amazing weekend. The hosting was on target, the venue was peaceful and offered more than I expected. I loved the pacing. Often retreats such as these are nice getaways with lots of listening to people speak, I really appreciated the time to write and wind down with points of contact along the way. Marc is a great host and guide and provides just the right amount of encouragement and accountability. So looking forward to the next one!

The Writers Advance is a unique experience for those with a call to write! The beautiful environment of the Abbey provides ample places to release the words and focus on your project.

This is the most useful writer’s retreat because I had all the space and time I wanted to actually write. Beautiful venue, no distractions, no obligations, and tons of encouragement from other writers.

The Writers’ Advance weekend was well planned, carefully structured and provided time and space to do some very productive work, either to continue on a project or start an entirely new project. The cost was quite reasonable and my plans include attending another weekend. I was more than pleased.

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!

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 Flexible 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. Rest, imagine, outline, write, edit. You’ll have the time and encouragement to attend to your creative work in the way that you need to.

A Creative & Spiritual Atmosphere

We host the Writers Advance weekend at venues specifically chosen because they provide a rich atmosphere for focus, creativity, and deep work like monastery guesthouses and forest retreat centers. In these spaces you’ll often find spiritual art, reflective spaces, and a commitment to the intentionally slow and quiet pace of life. A perfect environment 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 support focus and creativity. With this process, participants have seen bursts of productivity that surprised them.

One-on-One Coaching

You’ll have the option of one-on-one coaching with one of our on-site writing coaches, who are working writers, editors, and creatives who bring a depth of experience and insight to the conversation. They can 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.

Great Food

Our venues are chosen because they offer excellent food and can accommodate various dietary needs. 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.

Comfortable On-Site Accomodations

All our venues have comfortable on-site accommodations so you can give your full focus and attention to your work. All venues have single-occupancy rooms with private bath. Some offer double occupancy at a lower cost. See the details for each retreat location.


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!

Is this a religious retreat?

This question usually comes up like this: “Wait, I know you! You’re a pastor.” They’ve seen me posting online, or read one of my books, or in some other way, know that I’m a Christian pastor. So the question is a reasonable one.

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 designed as a religious retreat, and there is no religious content or programming. The aim of the weekend is to help you take tangible steps forward on your writing project.

Is this only for Christian authors?

No. Most of the authors I personally know and work with are Christians, and many of them write 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. We’ve even had people working on theater scripts! The environment is positive and encouraging, and any writer who wants to focus on their writing with our support is welcome.

What is the refund policy?

Plans change. Life happens. That’s all understandable. You’re considering putting down a hefty deposit on an event, and undoubtedly you want to know what happens if you can’t attend. So, here’s the policy and options.

1. Due to the nature of events like this, deposits are not refundable.

2. If your plans change, you can move your reservation to a future event or transfer the deposit to someone else. You can request this change up to 30 days before the event. There is no charge for this change. After that point, your deposit goes to reserve your room and pay for catering. Even if you can’t come, it is no longer an option to move your registration to a future event.

3. If an unexpected family or health emergency comes up within that 30-day window and you cannot attend, I can roll your registration forward if you or I can find someone else to take your spot. There are two options for this. First, you could donate your deposit toward their cost with them agreeing to pay the balance. In this case, your deposit goes to them, and you are no longer registered for the event. Alternatively, if they are willing to pay the same price you paid for the event (Deposit+Balance Due), I will roll your deposit & registration forward to a future event. If I have people on a waiting list, I may be able to provide this service, but I can’t guarantee that I’ll have a waiting list. If you need to do this email me at to get the process started. This option does not apply if you forget to attend or miss the event for other non-emergency reasons.

4. If something happens outside of my control that forces the event to be canceled, I will notify you as soon as possible and give you the option to roll your registration & deposit forward to any future event at the current rate.

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, 2019 Spring Participant

Learn More or Reserve Your Spot

Pacific Northwest

Alton Collins Center, Oregon

Fall 2023