The Writers Advance

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

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 a phenomenal experience, and the best gift I’ve given myself professionally or personally in a long time. With Marc’s wise input and support, I made some important decisions about current projects, and then made critical forward progress on more than one of them! 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.

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.

Two Great Locations

PNW – Mt. Angel Abbey

Mt. Angel Abbey in beautiful Mt. Angel Oregon, has been home to the Writers Advance for several years. The St. Benedict Guesthouse is the ideal place for the kind of reflective work that writers do.

NWA – Subiaco Abbey

This year we’re excited to be planning our first ever Writers Advance outside the Pacific Northwest. We’re meeting at the lovely Coury House at Subiaco Abbey in Northwest Arkansas. The 2023 Spring retreat will be taking place here.

No Stress

The Writers Advance is all about getting you out of the space where you have to worry about details. 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.

Time to Write

Unlike so many Writer’s events, we don’t overwhelm you with a firehose of information or an overfull schedule. 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.


The only thing required at the Writers Advance is that you write, but we do provide some options for support and encouragement. You can take advantage of 1-on-1 coaching sessions with writing coaches. You can run your ideas past the group in group feedback sessions. You can also take advantage of 2 carefully chosen Toolbox Training sessions, focusing on important elements of a writers workflow.

Here's What Participants Say

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 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.

A Spiritual Atmosphere

We host the Writers Advance weekend at the guesthouse of a Benedictine monastery.  In this space of intentional spiritual community, you’ll also find yourself surrounded by spiritual art, plenty of reflective spaces, and an intentionally slow and quiet pace of life. 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.


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?

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, and the Writers Advance itself is not designed as a religious retreat.

Is this only for 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.

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 7 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 7-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

Reserve Your Spot

Pacific Northwest

Mt. Angel, Oregon

Mt. Angel
Northwest Arkansas

Subiaco, Arkansas