The Taos Writer’s Retreat


You love to write. You like to write. You think you’d like to write. You used to love to write before you got too bound up and afraid. You wrote a book in 5th grade but you haven’t written much since.

You know that if you had time free of distractions and loving support, you would write that thing burning in you, spill it onto the page – or finish that project that needs your full attention. Or simply, powerfully, rediscover your voice.

And it would be pretty dog gone lovely if someone was serving you delicious healthy soul-food, and there was a cracker-jack writing coach on call to hold yours if you get stuck.

You know what would be extra de-light-ful?

A supportive circle of women to cackle with. (Cackling is optional but highly recommended.)

How about heart-fueling, creativity-expanding mini-writing seminars to befriend the critic and charge you up with sparkly inspiration and amazingly helpful take-home tools?

Why not add daily yoga, wild morning dance, strolls through arty Taos, a labyrinth to walk, daily writing circles and fresh baked goods (aha, the cream puffs!) plus healthy snacks and and and...

Sounds kinda perfect? Hot diggity damn because I’ve got that and more cooked up for you!

You are invited
to a truly fabulous writing retreat

Sunday, July 19 – Saturday, July 25, 2015
Sunday, July 26 – Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Mabel Dodge Luhan House
Taos, New Mexico

The 2015 retreat is currently sold out.

** Registration for the 2016 retreats will open early November 2015. **
** Make sure you are on the email list to be notified when registration opens.

“Jen masterfully creates a gentle and caring container where I found the freedom and environment to revel in the creative flow.  The week could not have been more perfect.  The energy sparked true revelation and joy as I uncovered the expression of my creative gifts.  There is magic in the light and air of New Mexico that, for me, was only amplified by surrendering to being present at the retreat.  I laughed, danced, practiced yoga, explored, created art, and yes, I wrote, because I can now say loudly and for all the world to hear: I AM A WRITER.”

The week could not have been richer or more perfect. Thank you.  You are superb at what you give to the world.”  — Ruth McCully, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

Who this retreat is for:

Taos-1This week-long play, write, laugh, learn and then write some more experience is made for you if you’ve just got to get some writing done and you need a mighty mainline dose of self-nurturing and mojo reclamation.

Could be you’ve never written much or you’ve been putting it off for years or maybe you journal all the time or maybe you’re writing your fiftieth book. This is a “fits-all-writers” retreat!

If you want and need to write, this is the retreat that was created with you in mind.

This isn’t like any other writer’s retreat out there.

Here’s what we aren’t going to do:

  • We aren’t going to critique our work. (We do have reading circles at night but no commenting – only witnessing.)
  • We aren’t going to diagram sentences (But we will talk structure!)
  • We aren’t going to network to get published (although I will answer any questions I can).

This is about you and what your creative heart truly needs.

“I came bursting with an urge to write. I felt adrift in a sea of words and ideas. Was I forcing too many words too soon onto the page? Did I need to focus more or be more free spirited? Jen’s retreat helped me to anchor my writing life. Now my critic no longer wields as much power over me. I’ve take a few (hundred) writing classes in my time and yet on this retreat I learned lots of news-I-could-use. I started and finished several new short stories and I’ve embarked on an unexpected, exciting new project.  This is one of those experiences that will stay with you and keep giving onto you for a lifetime.” –Sonja Haller, 2012

The only difference between people who create and people who don’t is the people who do don’t believe the mean voices in their heads.

“The retreat was exactly the kind of soul-nourishing experience I’ve been wanting to give myself. It was the perfect blend of guidance and open space. I loved the free dance in the morning, the writing prompts, and the small group was perfect! Being in Taos was transformational. It brought me back to myself in a new way and reminded me why I am here. It was beautiful!” — Isabel Partlett,, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

What will you actually get out of this week?

  • You’ll get writing done.
  • You’ll get to feel joy and have fun again. Really and truly.
  • You’ll feel less alone. Ever feel like a round peg in a square hole? Not at this retreat! These are your people.
  • You’ll get to rest. Really rest. To recharge and gather strength.
  • You’ll get perspective on your projects and maybe your life.
  • You’ll get a rush of creative energy and inspiration.
  • You’ll get a serious dose of creative courage.
  • Oh, and you’ll get the pleasure of knowing that you won’t have to cook, clean, or take care of anybody else for one whole week!

If you are afraid…

I understand. I can get pretty uneasy whenever I sign up for one of these creative kind of spiritual retreat things.

Whenever I think about plunking my money and precious time down, I’m sure I’ll be the only one attending with a) no talent, b) a loud obnoxious laugh, c) shyness issues, d) weird food allergies and e) did I mention no talent?

But you know what happens when I decide to go anyway–in spite of my fears and last minute freak outs?

I find stuff to eat without gluten (and Mabel Dodge does a good job of feeding us weird food people), I find people like me to talk to. Nobody minds my laugh. Sometimes I make a real lasting friend (or two). And most of all, my level of talent doesn’t matter because I tap into that sweet deep experience of being in the flow. (Maybe some of what I create does sucks but what happens afterwards is always wonderful as in new ideas, new flow, renewed commitment and energy.)

If you are ready to rekindle your creative spark and experience creative breakthroughs, and give up some of the struggle and dryness and push-the-river quality that creeps into all our lives, join me and 21 like-minded women in Taos.

Some of the stuff we’ll cover in our luscious, nurturing writer’s shangrila:

Taos-2Carefully designed blocks of time where your writing can flow; it’s about giving you a container that will let you access and pour out your creative juice.

Helpful, funny, chock-full-of-help petite-seminars like:

  • How to get to that real honest place in your writing
  • Create a writing collage like no other writing collage you can imagine
  • How to turn the various critical voices from hurting hecklers to helpmates
  • How to take a rough draft or journal entry and mold into a deeper richer piece of writing
  • How to start (hint: it’s not at the beginning)
  • How to leave behind time monsters and shadow comforts that may block your creative work (yes, including email)

“It was an amazing, wonderful, perfect, lovely, relaxing, informative, delicious week for me!  Jen will help show you how to nourish the writer within you no matter what stage or shape your inner writer is in. You will leave KNOWING  you are a writer! I can’t wait till next year!” — Holly R. Bullard, Ed.D., 2011, 2012, 2014

Mary-Ginnane“Heading off on this retreat I hoped to find a compatible group to spend a week with and information to shape my writing project. And it was so! Jen created a week of activities for a like-minded group of women–those interested in writing (and reading!) We wrote in circles, we talked of our writing (and other subjects) in safe small groups, we wrote in mini-workshops, we wrote during luxuriously long personal writing time. What I learned about writing is now essential to keeping myself moving forward with my project. And I must mention morning dancing, the wonderful meals, the restorative yoga, the timeless space of the Mabel Dodge Luhan House…and Jen, our deeply experienced writer-leader, who treated each participant with equal attention and equanimity. The week was totally satisfying!”
— Mary Ginnane, 2014


  • Daily council to offer support and a place to be heard (many women’s favorite part)
  • Daily writing warm-ups (optional) to get the writing flowing
  • An on-call writing coach–me–available for brief coaching if your writing hits a rough spot or your mind starts babbling that “Who do you think you are??” bullshit
  • A band of allies in the women who, like you, are willing to take a risk and make time and devote resources to their writing dreams–you’re going to make some dear new friends: you are embraced!
  • A follow up resource handout
  • All-level yoga with Anna Guest-Jelley (Week One) or Marianne Elliott (Week Two) every afternoon that will help you melt away stuck and loosen up your body
  • A Facebook page to get to know each other beforehand (share rides! save money!) and stay in touch afterward, plus other alums from other years

Click here to see tentative schedule.
Please note arrival and departure times!!!

“I had a lot of anxiety before I came, around feeling like a fraud as a writer and what if after spending this money and time I come away without having made any changes in my writing and creative practice? Those fears evaporated by the second day.

I came hoping for an ‘assignment’ from the universe for my next project, and I received it while brushing my teeth on the morning of the third day! I was thrilled beyond belief. I worked on my new idea the rest of the week and received crackerjack coaching from Jen. I also received gracious, positive feedback from other women, which made me think that there’s a market for this book. I’m no longer floundering, but have a clear direction for my next creative project.

Benefits of attending? The place. The conscious, creative women. The luscious food. The teaching. The times of solitude and socializing. The structure created by Jen that allowed so much to come forth. Being stirred in the cauldron of creativity where magic and transformation happen.

If you are serious about wanting time to yourself, do whatever you have to do to come to  the Writers’ Retreat.”   –Joanna Powell Colbert,, 2011, 2013

This retreat is NOT for you if:

  • You want to learn about getting published — you can ask me all the questions you want but this is not a writer’s conference.
  • If you want a serious intellectual event with no laughter — women work but we laugh, too.
  • You want to be only around fiction writers or poets or published authors – the Taos Writer’s Retreat draws all kinds of writers so you must like diversity.
  • If you want to only relax — I ask you to create during creating time, not go shopping and hiking.
  • If you don’t know my work at all — go read my blog or one of my books and see if we are match. Please do not come without knowing me!

“Jennifer has a magical way of creating a container for anyone to find their inner writer. If you’re ready to step deeply into your writerly self, do yourself a favor and sign up.”

— Christine Frei, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014



Sherold-Barr“I came away from this retreat feeling so grounded and centered. The location is deeply spiritual and the food was healthy and delicious. I experienced a deep sense of peace spending time with the women and Jen. The best part is that I learned writing techniques and came home with the real concept for a memoir, and that feels remarkable. I loved the writing prompts and how Jen taught us how to bring all the senses into our writing. And I loved the coaching time Jen gave us in the pagoda. I will definitely be back!”

– Sherold Barr, 2014

The Place

Taos-6Your fee includes everything! All lodging and all meals, daily writing seminars, daily yoga classes, on-the-spot writing coaching, plentiful snacks, and love love love.

As this is a historic building, you will encounter a good degree of “funkiness” you wouldn’t find at the Ritz but if you love stepping back in history and feeling like you are walking in Mabel’s shoes (or Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams, or even Dennis Hopper who once owned the place), you’ll love it. Rooms will be assigned in order of registration and alums register before general registration. We cannot guarantee rooms.

Smoking only in designated areas outdoors. Also, keep in mind that Taos is a high-elevation destination. It can take a little time to adjust, so you may wish to come to the area a day or two early if you know you are affected by altitude. (If you do come early, you must book directly with Mable Dodge and while we will do our best to keep you in your same room, we cannot promise.)

Mabel Dodge Luhan House

The Mabel Dodge Luhan House is a famous gathering spot for writers, painters, and geniuses. The house and Mabel’s hospitality inspired everyone from Georgia O’Keeffe to Carl Jung to Martha Graham to D.H. Lawrence. The food is sublime and plentiful with veggie and gluten free options when requested (via a handy form Amber sends you), with tea and cookies, fruit and nuts, always available. There are numerous nooks and crannies to write in including a magical garden across the street. The village of Taos is a 15-minute flat walk away.

Tammy-Roth-Writers-RetreatThis was hands down the best retreat I’ve ever been on. It starts with the absolute sacred and inspiring space of Mabel Dodge Luhan and then blend in the incredibly skilled facilitation of Jen.  As a retreat junkie and leader, watching/experiencing how Jen held space and boundaries in such a gentle, loving way was very inspiring. I’ve always been a firm believer in no cross talk or fixing but I never connected that it created SAFETY (duh!). It was also very comforting and inspiring to see that Jen really walks her talk on retreating, self care and being authentic.

Her loving, open presence and gentle boundaries create a safe container to dive deeper into personal exploration of self and writing. The focus on the body through morning dance and afternoon yoga was also key to opening me up to deeper realms. It was a beautiful blend of true personal retreat combined with exploring writing. I learned a lot about the craft of writing but I didn’t feel beat over the head with teaching. I left transformed.

– Tammy Roth, Best-selling Author, Therapist, Retreat Leader, 2014

Registration Requirements

This writer’s retreat is open to women writers of all levels, from beginner to professional. How do you know if you’re “a writer”? Because you write. You do not need to be published to join us! You do not need to be working on a particular project or want to “do” anything with your writing or you might be getting away to finish something big–there is room for it all.

However, I only want you to come if you really want to write–if you’re ready to make a loving creative commitment to yourself. Therefore, please send me 3-5 pages of any kind of writing (fiction, non-fiction, journal, poetry, journalism, essay, links to blog posts, etc.) that demonstrates you are willing to put pen to paper. Trust me, I’ll love it and I’ll love you! This is not about being accepted but about making a commitment.

Note: If this seems impossible, just think of it as the workshop beginning now! Allow yourself to sit with pen and paper and begin to write.

Write down what comes to mind, despite what your inner critic may be screaming! Consider this a fun chance to fool around with your writing–it does not have to be award winning, deathless prose! There will be a place to submit your writing at the time you pay your deposit.

Sunday, July 19 – Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sunday, July 26 – Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Mabel Dodge Luhan House
Taos, New Mexico

The 2015 retreat is currently sold out.

** Registration for the 2016 retreats will open early November 2015. **
** Make sure you are on the email list to be notified when registration opens.


Sharon-DowneyI was so nourished by Jen’s Taos retreat.  This is a magical place, full of the spirits of those who walked through the Mabel Dodge house.  Jen creates a container, a safe and grounded space, where women of all backgrounds and ages come together to share and learn from one another.  Writing? Yes, we did — and I was constantly blown away by the beauty of the words from my fellow retreatants.  But we also stirred our souls, looked deep within, harvested what we’ve sown in our lives and saved seeds for the future. In the glorious light and air of the mountains of New Mexico, we birthed new dreams.  Thank you for making this possible.

Sharon Downey (CrowsFoxes), 2012, 2013, 2014

More on the Money Stuff

Double rooms with shared bath: $2080
Single room with private bath: $2380


Register and pay in full by February 14, 2015 and save $100 — as my thank you for planning ahead!

Register and pay your deposit by February 14, 2015, you save $50.

IF YOU HAVE TO CANCEL (please don’t, you don’t want to miss this!)

If you cancel before April 1, 2015, I will refund all but $250 of your deposit or balance paid in full.

If you cancel after April 1, 2015 AND after paying the balance in full, and we can fill your place, we will refund everything minus $250. If we cannot fill your spot, we cannot refund any monies due to our contract with the Mable Dodge Luhan house.

All monies are due April 15, 2015. If you need a payment plan, we can do that.

Please note: Any registrations three weeks prior to start date of the retreat must pay in full at time of registration.

Sunday, July 19 – Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sunday, July 26 – Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Mabel Dodge Luhan House
Taos, New Mexico

The 2015 retreat is currently sold out.

** Registration for the 2016 retreats will open early November 2015. **
** Make sure you are on the email list to be notified when registration opens.


“I chose to give myself the gift of Jen’s writing retreat because I thought I would be nurtured by southwest skies, the loving community of other remarkable women, and Jen’s wise guidance and facilitation. I was right. Jen’s deep experience facilitating retreats is evident in every graceful, moving moment of the experience. When I met a friend for dinner the day I got back she said, “Oh my God, I have never seen you look like this. You are GLOWING.” I got great writing done, learned a lot, but most of all, fed my soul.” –Tara Sophia Mohr,, 2011

About Jen

JenLouden_2013-5-croppedJen Louden is a personal growth pioneer who help launch the self-care movement with her first book The Woman’s Comfort Book. She’s the author of six more books on well-being and personal wisdom that have inspired more than a million women in 9 languages. Her newest book will be out this December from National Geographic. Jen has been a regular columnist for Whole Living magazine, a radio show host on Martha Stewart’s network, and a spokeswoman for companies like Real Networks and SC Johnson. She even sat on Oprah’s couch. She’s a trained ontological coach, a mess-making artist, a mother of an amazing college junior and the bonus mom of a high school senior. She got married last year to Bob. Her newest project is writing about letting go.

About Marianne

MarianneSeatedSM-300x300Marianne Elliot is a best-selling author, human rights advocate, former UN Peacekeeper, and yoga teacher. She believes kindness, joy, and an openness of body, mind, and spirit are essential to our creativity. So that’s what she teaches yoga that is kind and joyful, designed to help open your creative flow and to support you in writing and every area of your life. She attended the retreat as a participant and then taught our yoga the last three years to great acclaim. She’s also an amazing friend and soul.

More information about her teaching style at

About Anna

Anna Guest-JelleyAnna Guest-Jelley came as a guest two years ago and is coming back to teach yoga this year! The founder of Curvy Yoga, a training and inspiration portal for yogis of all shapes and sizes, she is also the author of Permission to Curve: Inspiring Poses for Curvy Yogis and Their Teachers and the co-editor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery and Loving Your Body. She’s a beloved teacher, wonderful writer, and all around fantastic gal.

You can find more on Anna at

Questions? Concerns?

More questions? Please email I’m happy to talk about whatever you need to be sure this is the right retreat for you. Really, no question is too weird or personal.

I know you will cherish your week with us–it truly is magical.

With love,

P.S. The retreat is full every year. Just saying so you won’t be disappointed.


Do you give in depth critiques?
Nope but I do read what you send in.

Is this an alcohol free retreat?
You are welcome to have alcohol in your room but starting this year, all events at the retreat will be alcohol free. I want to preserve the sacred container through the final morning. Thanks for your understanding.

Why yoga and dance at a writing retreat?
I believe, because of extensive personal and teaching experience, movement frees our self-trust and helps our creativity shine. And it’s all optional.

All the singles are taken every year but I don’t want to share a room.
I’m sorry, I know that’s frustrating. I am not a room sharer in general and I share a room every year because I have come to love the chance to hang out with other women for a week. Close and long time friendships have formed because of sharing rooms at this retreat so you might make an exception.

I heard everybody reads the same book. Why?
I haven’t picked the book for 2015 yet but I do it so that we can have craft discussions. It’s fun and optional and really worthwhile.

I’ve helped a million+ people plumb the question: How do you shape & live your truest life?

No pat answers, just imperfection you can use.

I’ve helped a million+ people plumb the question: How do you shape & live your truest life?

No pat answers, just imperfection you can use.