...for people who want to unlock the unique power of their writing by finishing a short project, with more joy and in less time
Finding Your Voice is a self-study retreat – done at your own pace – that teaches you how to bring more of you to the page. Whether that page is a book, a personal essay, the About page of your website, teaching stories or anywhere else you share – or want to share – your voice.
Have you ever read a few sentences of a blog post or book or
magazine article and you knew immediately who wrote it?
That’s because that person has a strong and clear voice… one of the most powerful tools she owns in her writer’s toolbox. And she knows how to use it – unabashedly and unapologetically – to be unmistakable.
When you develop and use your voice you’ll…
There are a lot of words out there and a lot of writers who hope someone’ll be moved by the ones they’ve painstakingly chosen to land on the page. But here’s the deal… the words that actually have an impact are the ones shaped by a real and authentic voice.
As writers we’re very good at reading between the lines. And if you’re anything like me, you can spot inauthentic, stiff, and uncertain words from a mile away. They make you want to stop reading. On the other hand, when I read something that feels true and I can’t put it down – even if it’s a topic I feel I know all about already – it’s because I’m connecting to the writer’s voice.
No matter what you’re writing about, if you truly bring your voice to it – with vulnerability and no apologies – you will stand out.
There are thousands of books on how to write and many great teachers out there helping writers thrive. But I don’t follow all of them. I only follow the people who are writing to me.
When you’re unsure of your voice or are afraid to use it, it’s difficult to speak to your just-right reader. Because when you don’t show who you are and what you care about, you can’t connect. It’s vanilla versus Chunky Monkey Caramel Core Non-Dairy Non-GMO. And when you invite nobody in particular into your world, nobody in particular shows up.
On the other hand, the more distinct your voice, the more just-right people start showing up and finding you, giving you a way to share the work you care about most.
One of the quickest ways to burn out as a writer is to write from a place of should. When you write from a place of should, you say things the way you think you’re supposed to say them, you tell stories you think you’re supposed to tell, and you look at every piece you create as a contest where you’re locked into comparison hell with everyone you think is a better writer than you.
When you write from your core, when you pay close attention to what you obsess about, you’ll have so much more to say, the words will come more freely, and you’ll write the stories only you can tell.
“Yuppers, I sure did start to find my voice!
I’ve learned that I was both reading books and living my life with far less awareness and depth than I could be – almost as if were watching TV, just letting the scenes wash over me. I now try to pay more attention, to notice what I notice more often, and—if I can, as a moment unfolds—to also notice more. What is that guy wearing? Is it clean or stained? Does his wife look a little tired or actually bone-weary? What is it that makes me think he’s often critical of her? Jen, my deepest thanks. This experience was amazing. And glory be, it’s there for me to repeat any time I want. Woohoo!”
– Barb Romaniuk
“Jen Louden’s “Finding Your Voice” course was not at all what I expected. It was ten times more powerful and ten times more effective. I started the course thinking I would learn about writing business copy. I ended up developing an intimate, give and take relationship with my voice that has changed my life in deep, unexpected, and meaningful ways.”
– Michelle Radomski – OneVoiceCan.com
… You can connect more deeply to your readers
… You can create true fans
… You can make an impact in the way you yearn to and need to
… You can fall back in love with the writing you can’t help but do
… You can make money from the words you write
You'll Be Handed A Path
I’ve developed, through working with my writing teachers and my writing students, a path that helps you build a story while developing your voice. I make walking this path like going on a live retreat with me: safe, light-hearted, and super practical.
The path I outline in this self-guided retreat will unearth what’s already within you (but perhaps trapped under a thick layer of lack of confidence and self-doubt) and take you places you haven’t even imagined going. This path will serve you if you’re just beginning to find your groove as a writer or you’ve been at this a while but find your voice slipping, especially when you try out a new genre or to develop your business.
You'll Write Stories
Nowhere does your voice shine through more than in the stories you tell. In this course you’ll not only write a story to share, you’ll be shown how to bring your stories to the surface while your voice comes along for the ride. Your voice doesn’t develop in a vacuum – it needs context and purpose. It needs work to do!
You'll Learn How To Keep Finding It
Our voices change, just as we do. In this course you’ll learn simple exercises and journal prompts you can pull out whenever a new character (a new version of you) enters the picture so you can blend the old with the new in a way that keeps you connected to your readers.
You'll Learn From The Best
In this course I share a wide range of examples from people who have very strong and distinct voices, because that’s how we learn. Then I’ll give you “retreat extenders” that’ll help you take what you just did and apply it to nurture your voice right away.
“I’ve followed Jennifer Louden for years, and have wanted to take one of her writing workshops, so when her online writing course showed up, I signed up immediately! I’m so glad I did. Her prompts are good and juicy, meaning it’s easy to begin writing, and stay with it. Jen is encouraging in the most loving way. The Facebook group was invaluable – reading other writer’s comments helped me, and Jennifer stepped in frequently and commented herself, which made the experience feel almost like an in-person retreat.
I had a topic to write about, which I continued to explore in each lesson, but was chagrined to find that the prompts as well as the topic led me into an examination of my marriage. This was not a topic I wanted to include in my piece, so I asked about it in the Facebook group. Jen answered and said that sometimes we need to write about what comes up to gain more insight into what our topic is, but that doesn’t mean we have to keep that in the finished piece. This was such a valuable insight for me! I could immediately see that continuing to explore my marriage would get me deeper into the story I wanted to tell. This little nugget has helped me in all the writing I’ve done since then. It helps me to clarify my topic – to write out what comes up even when I know I won’t be including it in my final piece. I plan to keep using the course, as the prompts are useful for many types of writing.”
– Gwen Delmore
“I thought the class would help me become a better writer for my blog and I would get a few tips. Little did I know. From the first audio exercise and writing prompts I was really shocked at what has come pouring out of my pen. I feel compelled to tell my story (from the prompt what story can you never tell?) I was sitting at Starbucks doing the work and I think I spoke out loud or gasped when I realized this. I didn’t have any idea that was in me and wanted/needed to come out. Your class has given me permission to write and also believe that what I have to say could help me and maybe also help others… Thank you so much.”
– Maria Merrill
The entire self-guided course is available the moment
you complete your registration. Get started now!
Work at Your Own Pace
This course could be used as a weekend at-home writing retreat, consumed in small bits over the course of several weeks, or enjoyed in any other format that works for you. Yet it’s lovingly designed to keep you engaged so you actually finish a story.
Mobile and Tablet Friendly
The training can be viewed online or downloaded to your device and watched on the go, 24/7.
Review as Often and as Much As You'd Like
You have lifetime access to this training so you can review, retake, and re-listen any time you please. And this retreat lends itself to being reused – it could become your annual personal writing retreat!
Finding Your Voice consists of six audio sessions that you can stream or download, and includes a pdf worksheet and suggested activities designed to help you find and use your strong and unique voice faster. We’ve also included a private Facebook group and a list of my favorite writing books and resources.
Finding your voice starts with tuning down the “default network.” That “blah blah blah” critical voice that drowns out what you most want to say or makes it feel too dangerous.
In this retreat session, you’ll connect with where your empathy for your reader intersects with your desire to create. You’ll identify your just-right reader and pen one of the most important letters for your writing you’ll ever write. You’ll also start your story while excavating your voice.
And hopefully you’ll giggle and enjoy the process – maybe more than ever before!
Sometimes the biggest barrier to writing a great story – and finding your voice – is refusing to choose what to focus on, what to write about. When you don’t choose, you step away from what you really have to say. Not choosing might feel safer and more freeing, but it’s one of the sneakiest ways we lose our voice and our momentum to express ourselves out in the world.
In this session, you’ll learn three tools to help you think of choosing in a new way. You’ll also learn the roles characters play in helping you find and use your voice as you continue to build out your story.
You need to tap into your rebel, your inner spunk-meister, the part of you that is sick and tired of hiding in order to liberate the full range of your voice and the specifics of your story. You also need to heed the advice of Ira Glass, as told by Jessica Abel, and start paying attention – but in a very particular way. Once you do all that – and have a blast doing it – then you pour your insights into scenes.
In this session, you’ll hear three very different examples and then use your spunk-miester and scenes to move your story forward in a big way.
Wait, but what is ‘voice’ exactly? Do I have it in me or do I create it?
You shall find out the answer to that and other perennial writing conundrums in this session. Not just for the sake of debate but to discover how to always find a way to your voice, especially when we venture into the great unknown together, leaving behind the stale, trite, and dull.
Finally, we’ll flirt with the hero’s journey all in service of getting your story out on paper!
When I learned about structure, it changed my life as a writer. I’m not exaggerating. So many people think that great writing becomes great by accident or talent alone. Ha!
In this session, I teach you how to use structure to stop circling the same thoughts and ideas, to dramatically improve your stories, to make writing them faster, and to make it easy for your reader to engage with your voice.
You’ll also learn how to produce unique and creative work by modeling what’s been done before, but not in the way they taught you in school. Structure liberates you when it’s used the way we’ll do together in this session. You’ll watch your story start to take a real and just-right shape!
Many of us learned how to “revise” in school, but what we learned wasn’t really revising at all. And that old practice doesn’t lead to more honest, compelling, effective writing – in fact, it often leads us away from writing great stories and from developing our unique voice.
In this retreat session, I share a super fun way to revise that will lead you into fresh territory and better stories while helping you identify whether or not you’ve expressed your voice. I’ll also show you exactly what to do to bring this story to a conclusion, to a place where you can share it with the world – and I’ll give you ideas to do just that.
Part of becoming a better writer involves making yourself accountable and sharing your work with others… in a safe place. That’s why I’ve put together a private Facebook group for you to connect with others and allow your work to be witnessed. Many of my students find that sharing their process makes their writing goals and dreams far more real and because we stress a no-feedback-zone, it’s a place where you can share your process without fear of being judged or feeling like you have to measure up… two things that often paralyze writers. This group is for straight up support, encouragement and sharing.
Alison Luterman is a brilliant personal story teller and writing teacher. She’s also one of the kindest people. Jen asked and Alison answered in a pre-recorded interview:
In this special one-hour recording you’ll hear my brand new interview with personal essayist, playwright, poet, and writing teacher Alison Luterman. Alison’s books include three poetry collections and a collection of essays. Luterman has also written five plays and a musical! Her writings have been published in The Sun, The New York Times, The Boston Phoenix, Rattle, The Brooklyn Review, Oberon, Tattoo Highway, Ping Pong, Kalliope, Poetry East, Poet Lore, Poetry 180, Slipstream, and lots of other places. Alison has taught at The Writing Salon in Berkeley, the Esalen Institute, and the Omega Institute, as well as at high schools, juvenile halls, and poetry festivals. You will love this chat!
The About page of your website is one of the most difficult pages to write. How do you keep people’s attention? Is the page about you or what you do? Should you tell a story or keep it short and sweet? Personal and unrelated fun facts or just stick to what’s relevant?
In this brand NEW recorded Masterclass I’ll be sharing with you the do’s and don’ts of writing your about page and how to use your newfound storytelling skills to connect with your readers and leave them wanting more.
A comprehensive list of resources Jen has used – and uses! – to learn to write, to publish, to revise, to stay in the game. Covers a variety of genres and links to excellent resources.
I’ve been writing ever since I can remember. I’ve also avoided writing for as long as I can remember! It’s rarely been easy for me and for years I didn’t know why. I thought maybe I wasn’t supposed to be a writer, even though I kept writing books (8), publishing a monthly column in one of Martha Stewart’s magazines, writing my weekly newsletter (for 16 years now), and writing first drafts of two novels and now a memoir.
It took me a lot of years to suss out why writing is hard for me: I wasn’t fully claiming my voice and I was being lazy.
The voice difficulty came out of fear and “shoulds” – what should I write? And it got worse when my first book, The Woman’s Comfort Book, became a bestseller. I started to think I needed to sound like an “expert.” So draining!
The lazy bit was because I thought writing was more of a mystery than a science. I wanted to just apply my fingers to the keyboard and voilà! A fully developed piece would spring forth. Go ahead and laugh. It’s funny. I was totally ignoring the craft of writing.
But slowly, through success and failure, I learned how vital the craft of writing is. And how critical it was in helping me inhabit and express my true voice.
These days I teach hundreds of women every year through my retreats and one of the biggest things they struggle with is finding their voice. They know they need to “find” it. They’ve read a thousand times that it’s the holy grail of writing, but knowing and doing are very different things – and there is so much bad info out there on this subject! I wanted to create a safe yet super practical self-guided retreat that would teach you how to find your voice through writing your story – because the two work together so powerfully that it’s kinda magic. Then you can begin sharing your most powerful work with everybody who needs what you have to say.
“Ok, so… wow. I’m not even sure what to say here right now. I just finished Session 1. I will pick up session 2 tomorrow. I cannot believe I wrote as much as I did. I *really* struggled with the very last block of writing. All the rest really felt like pure magic to me. I’m not sure what else to say! I want to laugh. I want to cry. I’m so grateful that I took the plunge & signed up for this because I feel like some part of me that’s been locked up inside now has the key to get out & be FREE!.”
– Angel Sullivan
“Wow. I just finished session one and am surprised by the new, deep stuff that came out of me… Writing is coming from places I didn’t know existed… I was especially touched by what I wrote in my letter to my reader. It helped me helped me understand more about why I do what I do and, why I want to do more of it. This is extremely helpful in understanding my motivation for writing about personal topics.”
– Jalene Case
“What a magical and beautiful process! I just finished session one and I cried. I am so grateful to be here. I write a blog for homeschooling Moms & offer coaching, and I loved writing the letter to my readers. And the poem about our fears taking us into ourselves, and blessing us…I am embracing that.”
– Jean Miller
“I finished session two a few minutes ago… Wow, powerful, demanding, challenging… When I subscribed I thought “finding your voice ” meant “finding your creativity,” but now I think it means “finding out who you are”… Thank you, Jen…”
– Laura Maga
“Ok first celebration, retreat session one is done! Awesome, I feel like I touched upon a depth I even didn’t know I had! These are powerful tools…”
– Anka Hoerster
“This was an unusual self-guided course. Although its name seems to indicate that you are doing it alone, that is completely not the case. I felt like Jen was with me the whole way. Her audio sessions led me through a process in which I learned more about my writing self and how to create new material. Through the prompts, I was able to rethink and re-imagine the chapter I had been struggling with. And the Facebook page allowed me to post and interact with others who were also listening to each of the sessions, as well as to get responses from Jen and her staff. Jen has again created magic, but she has done it through a carefully planned, well thought out series of prompts and talks that are rich in important writing and life lessons. I am so glad I decided to sign up and consider the entire course as a resource I intend to go back to in the future.”
– Anne Corey
Over the years of teaching thousands of women how to write and fully own their work as a writer, I’ve listened to many of them struggle with finding, and more importantly, using their voice and witnessed how much it blocks not only their creativity, but their ability to make a living as a writer or creative. I created this self-guided retreat to help writers like you overcome those struggles.
This course will be helpful to you if you’ve ever had thoughts like:
“If I show my true self, how will I be judged? Either positively or negatively, I don’t like to be judged.”
“I’m treading well-worn ground. Nothing new here.”
“When I read my own writing, I don’t ‘hear’ a distinctive voice – I feel like I sound like anyone else. And then, if I write something that felt really raw and emotional and genuine, it sometimes feels fake and manipulative when I re-read it, so I don’t trust that it’s a genuine ‘voice.’”
“I feel like being authentic is about spilling my guts and I don’t want to do that.”
“I fear I won’t come across as intelligent enough if I write in my real voice, like what I want to say is just too obvious and therefore dumb.”
“I’ll never have as strong a voice as so and so… so, you know, what’s the point?”
“People will know what it’s really like inside my head, and they’ll back away in slow, measured steps so they can get away before they catch my crazy.”
“It’s hard to break down the wall between what I think and feel and how much of that I choose to share with others.”
“In my head – or when I talk to friends – I feel like I have a really strong voice. I’ve even been told I do. But once I start dropping the words on the paper, I sound all stiff and unremarkable.”
… Express what ONLY you can the way ONLY you can
… Stand out when you need to
… Attract your just-right readers/clients/gigs
… Craft better stories
… Liberate energy, joy, and verve!
Over the past 25 years I’ve watched writers go from being burnt out, uninspired, and sure that they’ll never “make their mark” to being so strong and secure in their voice that every single piece of their writing gets better.
So powerful is finding your voice that when you do find it and use it, benefits you never even dreamed may show up, such as invitations to write columns, book deals, speaking gigs, and new ways of seeing yourself as a creative… Finding your voice can even send ripples of change into your personal life, helping you take a stand for your deepest desires.
The really great news about this finding your voice business is that there is a process. It’s not some airy fairy idea that you have to have faith in. The sessions in this retreat walk you through how to write a story and then use that process to find, nurture, and use your voice.
With 33 writing prompts, over 6 hours of audio lessons, and one of the most useful lessons I’ve ever taught on using structure to tell better stories, you’ll walk away from this self-guided retreat knowing more about who you are, what drives you, and how to use that information to share your unmistakable voice with the world.
Even if you’ve been writing for years, maybe even decades, and still haven’t found your voice.
Even if right now you think you and your voice are about as special as a Bic pen.
Even if you’ve read a thousand and one posts or books about finding your voice and nothing has clicked.
There’s no magic needed to find your voice. It isn’t complicated or about talent. Persistence, safety, a reason to express yourself, and a process designed to unpack and unearth what’s already within you is what you need. Simple, straight-forward, even exciting.
I wanted this course to be accessible to anyone who wants to become a better writer or needs to come out of hiding and show up for their mission in the world to thrive. Because I believe writers, solopreneurs and healers are a total gift and that when they share their work honestly, the world benefits greatly. So…
As soon as you register, you’ll be sent an email that includes your password to the protected page where you’ll find a welcome video from me and all of the retreat sessions and accompanying resources so you can dive in right away. Simple. Clean. And uncomplicated. Just like finding and using your voice!
I so hope to see you on the other side! I so want you to thrive as a writer!
“The last time I showed up at Jen’s proverbial door, I was a writer who’d lost her mojo. Everything had begun to feel dry and crusty and I didn’t know how to get my creative juices flowing again. However, after working with Jen, the creative spigot opened up. With Jen I always felt honored, respected and heard and because of that I was able to let it all out. Jen’s experience as a writer allows her to anticipate all of the struggles you’re going to come up against, and provide you with the tools you need to get past them so you can feel confident sharing your work with the world. From answering basic writing questions to addressing the complex emotional waves that writers ride, Jen knows how to hold a space for you to express yourself in your most clear and authentic voice.”
– Pascale Kavanagh, Writer
“I’ve worked with Jen many times over the years and every time I experience such a beautiful sense of learning and support when it comes to my writing. She really knows how to honor and nurture a writing practice and she teaches you how to do it too. And though Jen provides a wealth of resources and so much support to each writer she works with, it never intrudes on your own decisions and feelings about who you are as a writer and what you want to accomplish.
The last time I was with Jen I showed up with an empty journal and a bunch of pens. I left with the shape of a book that I knew I was going to finish. Jen teaches you how to work into even the most difficult material and she pushes you – very gently and kindly – to do more than you think you can. Jen helps you change how you see yourself, which in turns help you become the most creative and confident writer you can be.”
– Paula Trucks-Pape, Writer
“I recently spent four wonderful days with Jen during a writing intensive. I arrived looking for inspiration and direction in my writing. I came home identifying myself as a writer. I now feel a much deeper commitment to my own stories. I have a much bigger sense that they’re not just separate little vignettes, that there’s a structure emerging, and that they WILL become cohesive. I have a new desire to write and write and write; to do the work because now I know at a more fundamental level, that my voice matters, that my story is valuable. As long as I learn to trust my voice and leave an opening when I pause my writing, I always have the space to write what’s next.
Truly, I have so many good words for Jen and the “events” she leads that it makes it hard to focus on what to say unless I start with, ‘Got a minute?’ and then spout wondrous praise for about 15 minutes!”
– Laurie Sanders-Cannon, Writer
“I had arrived at a place in my life where I was struggling with whether I could still write, debating whether I honestly wanted to write, and questioning whether I had anything to say that anyone wanted to hear. After working with Jen, I departed with the strong desire to tell my story, a novel idea for the structure in which to do it, and a dash of sarcasm and humor to relate what might otherwise be too painful to tell. I might liken the experience of working with Jen to an artful counseling session: She provides a bit of instruction and a series of thoughtful questions for me to explore and find my own truth. Jen the writer, along with Jen the gifted teacher, created a safe place for me to discover my voice again. For that, I am deeply grateful.”
– Kim Voss, Disability Rights Advocate, Speaker, and Writer
“Jen created a freedom for writing, permission to write (if you will) at her retreat, for me! Giving me a time and place and generating an energy inside me, and that I needed to find my voice again. Allowing me to listen to myself, let my words flow, and create what was deeper inside that hadn’t been able to express itself, myself, my words, my soul, my heart. with prompts, heartfelt meditative moments and movements, with the gathering of amazing women all on their own journeys but there to support each of us. My voice flew, cried, laughed, poured through my fingertips with such an ease and in an amazingly powerful way. I was able to stand up and say that yes, in fact, I am a poet and a writer and share my heart with myself first, and then my sisters, too.”
– Paulette Rees-Denis, Movement Teacher, Author, and Coach
“As a teenager, and just coming into the awareness that I loved writing, I learned the importance of having a teacher that comes from the heart vs. the head, by having painful experiences with the latter. Over the years I have found one teacher that truly comes from the heart, and more so from a place of such transparent vulnerability that I actually just kept my eye on her for a couple of years when I first found her blog because I needed to be sure she was the real deal. Then I started taking baby steps by signing up for her smaller offerings. Then I signed up to go to on retreat with her in 2014, only to cancel as it got closer, out of fear of ‘not really being a writer’ because I am not published. Then I signed up for Teach Now and really knew that I wanted to keep company with this teacher in person and learn all that I could. So in 2016 I went to Taos and my life will never be the same. Even the feel of my fingers on my keyboard is a different experience.
Jennifer is the perfect teacher for me because she is so crystal clear and committed to creating a safe, nurturing, wise, supportive space that these are the types of students she attracts to her classes, so the safe environment and loving support is compounded. Jennifer is not only experienced in the techniques, tools, and yes, sometimes tricks of the writer’s trade but more importantly she has this passionate heart that is always willing to tell it like it is and share the challenges that come with this life.
I left Jen’s retreat feeling like I had not only found my writing voice, but that I also found a loving teacher that is here for me as the pages unfold. And to be quite honest, Jen’s is the only blog I read top to bottom with excitement when I see her name in my inbox.”
– Gail Miller, Writer
FINDING YOUR VOICE
THROUGH TELLING STORIES