The Taos Writer’s Retreat
You love to write. Or you used to love to write before you got too bound up and critical of yourself or started to wonder what other people think. Or maybe you are yearning to take your writing to a deeper level?
You know that if you had time free of distractions and filled with inspiration, you would write that thing burning inside you – or finish that project that needs your full attention. Or simply, powerfully, rediscover your voice.
And it would be fantastic if someone was serving you delicious, healthy soul-food, and there was a crackerjack writing coach on call to hold your hand if you have a question.
You know what would be extra delightful?
A smart circle of women to giggle with. How about heart-fueling, creativity-expanding mini-writing seminars to tame the critic and charge you up with inspiration and amazingly helpful take-home tools?
Why not add daily yoga, liberating morning dance, strolls through arty Taos, a labyrinth to walk, daily writing circles, and fresh baked goods (aha, the cream puffs!), healthy snacks, and and and…
Sound kinda perfect? Great!
You are invited
to a one-of-a-kind writing retreat
April 28 – May 4, 2019
– OR –
July 28 – August 3, 2019
– OR –
October 27 – November 2, 2019
The Mabel Dodge Luhan House
Taos, New Mexico
“Joining a writing retreat with Jennifer Louden was a gift: a nourishment to my creative self, to the words and the mystery on the page that was beckoning me, and to the story that I know needed to be told. One of the best parts of the experience was finally carving out enough generous space to do the writing I know I need to do in this world.
She is smart, wise, and truly an expert in not only storytelling, but in leading and guiding you through your own writer’s journey. She held the space and created a container for us to be open and honest and brave. I’m so grateful for her wisdom and skill at leading groups of people—she makes it seem easy (it’s so not!) and lets you step away from whatever life is beckoning you with to finally, for a moment, for a day, for a week: get to tell the stories that only you can tell.”
— Sarah K. Peck | Writer, Entrepreneur & Yoga Teacher | SarahKPeck.com
* * *
“This retreat is so valuable to me on a spiritual and writerly level. Being with a group of women who are sharing that focus with me for a week is immensely valuable, and there is always a connection with them for having shared this beautiful time together. I love that I am also encouraged to listen to my heart, to what I really want and need in every circumstance. I feel cared for and free at the same time.
There is no other experience I’ve ever had that allows me this time for myself. The writing that I’m able to accomplish here is deeper and more conscious than at other times and I’m able to take that with me when I go home. I’m so happy that I decided to take the plunge a couple of years ago and attend this retreat. It’s now my annual renewal time!”
— Lynn Jacobs, teacher, Taos 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018
Who this retreat is for:
This week-long write, rest, laugh, learn, and then write some more experience is made for you if you’ve got to get some writing done andyou need a strong dose of self-nurturing and mojo reclamation.
It’s made for you if you love hanging out with smart women, talking about writing and books and characters, if creativity makes your heart beat faster – and good food is a lovely plus.
It’s the retreat for you if you are ready and willing to discover just how much you can love your writing and the process of writing.
Could be you’ve been putting it off for years, or maybe you are hungry to do more with your writing, or maybe you’re writing your 10th book. Great! This is a “fits-all-writers” retreat!
If you want and need to write and be inspired to do it with more ease and joy, this is the retreat for you.
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 your 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 and what makes a good sentence.
- We aren’t going to network to get published, although I will answer any questions I can about the current state of publishing.
- We aren’t going to do therapy. This is not a therapeutic retreat; this is a retreat where we welcome our full selves in service to our writing.
This is about you and what your creative heart truly needs. This is about inviting yourself into the wonder and spaciousness that you access when the noise of the world drops away.
“For the first time in over 10 years I actually disconnected from my work, no e-mail or phone calls, no texts. I fully relaxed and enjoyed the experience, learning, writing, nature, yoga… shall I go on? I have not felt as relaxed and connected to myself as I did on the last day of the retreat, and I will never forget the three most important words you said before we left, ‘It’s not here.’ Thank you, Jen, you have truly changed my life.”
— Ann Graf, Sierra Madre, California, Taos 2015, 2016 , 2017, and 2018
The only difference between people who create and people who don’t is that 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 Parlett, soundbiteshaman.com, Taos 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018
What will you actually get out of this week?
- You’ll get writing done.
- You’ll feel joy and have fun again.
- You’ll feel less alone. Ever feel like a round peg in a square hole? Not at this retreat!
- You’ll get to rest. To recharge and gather strength.
- You’ll get perspective on your writing projects and maybe your life.
- You’ll step away from habits of body and mind that don’t support you.
- You’ll gain new insights into the craft of writing and take your writing to a new place, and yourself along with it.
- Oh, and you’ll get the pleasure of knowing that you won’t have to cook, clean, or take care of anyone else for one whole week!
If you are uncertain….
I so understand. I book a retreat and then I wonder, usually right before it’s time to go, “What was I thinking??? I don’t know anybody! What if the food sucks? But I don’t want to write anymore; I want to go on a _______ retreat (fill in the blank with whatever your critic has just tossed out as a way better idea).”
But you know what happens when I go anyway – in spite of my fears and better ideas?
I rediscover what I love about writing. I learn something new – often lots of new things. I get out of rushing/pushing/business Jen and rediscover creative/fun Jen. I love myself all over again.
If you are willing to rekindle your creative spark and experience creative breakthroughs – which is going to mean loving yourself through the hard moments (you’ll have a coach on call!) – join me and 22 like-minded women in Taos.
And if you’re still not sure if this retreat is for you or not, here’s who it’s absolutely not for.
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.
- You want to be around only fiction writers or poets or published authors. The Taos Writer’s Retreat draws all kinds of writers so you must like diversity.
- If you only want to relax. I ask you to write during writing time, not go shopping.
- You can’t bear talking about writing or hearing critical thoughts others have about published writers. We will not critique our own work but we will engage in conversations about published works.
- You want a healing retreat. This is a writing retreat where healing happens.
- You can’t stop yourself from giving advice or talking during silent times. We are silent during writing time each day.
- You don’t know my work at all. Go read my blog and see if we are match. Please do not come without knowing my work.
Some of the stuff we’ll cover in this writer’s shangri la:
Carefully 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. Containers make magic possible!
Helpful, funny, chock-full-of-help petite-seminars like:
- How to get to that real, honest place in your writing
- How to befriend and stop believing the various critical voices we all have
- How to take a rough draft or journal entry and mold it 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
“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., Taos 2011, 2012, 2014
“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, Taos 2014
“The Taos Writer’s Retreat gave me so much: time and space to really sink into my next book with the expert guidance of Jen in a supportive group of kind and talented women.
Jen gives just the right amount of technical instruction (like structuring tips I had never heard of before) mixed with writing process techniques that I was able to use in my project immediately. Even more wonderful: having structured time TO WRITE without distraction every day. A perfect balance of group time and writing time.
That half of the group are “returnees”, workshop repeaters, says so much. Even though it was my first workshop with Jen, her opening circle put me completely at ease. Any sense of intimidation (she’s published so many books!) just evaporated. She makes the process of writing and workshopping so kind, so real, and so practical.
The setting is inspiration in itself. I mean, really, you’re in the company of the high New Mexican desert, Taos mountain, at Mabel Dodge Luhan’s house! The only drawback, is that you might eat too much! The food is beyond delicious with lots of healthy options and respect for all of our crazy dietary needs. Gluten-free deserts. You’ve been warned.
If you’re thinking of going, don’t think, JUST GO. As a workshop teacher myself and someone who demands a lot from the workshops I take, (I’m picky!) you’re in for a well-designed and lovingly delivered writing retreat. Jen is a true pro and it really is a gift to get to work with her.”
– Lisa Sonora | American Artist and & Creative Business Consultant
“Before I went to Taos on this Writer’s Retreat, I was drowning in shame about not writing. I was convinced I was not a writer, because otherwise, I would be writing. Instead, everything else came first. But sitting down with this group of writers, putting one word after the other onto the page, and talking about what happens as we do that has changed my life.
I learned that it doesn’t really matter what the words are (you can always change them later); what does matter is what happens, what unfolds when we become conscious of what is possible when we just trust who we are and what we want. When it is enough to breathe, move, feel, write, and then let it go. After it is over, you will take this retreat with you in your body, your heart, and your notebook. Thanks, Jen!”
— Paula Trucks-Pape, Unterlüß, Germany, Taos 2014
- Daily council to offer support and a place to be heard (many women’s favorite part)
- Daily writing warm-ups to get the writing flowing (optional)
- 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
- A Facebook page to get to know each other beforehand (share rides! save money!) and stay in touch afterward, plus meet other alums from previous 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 Writer’s Retreat.”
– Joanna Powell Colbert, gaiansoul.com, Taos 2011, 2013
The Session Specials
Week 1: April 28 – May 4, 2019
During this session, we'll be joined by Lisa Jones who will teach via her unique and highly effective method where she takes apart a great scene in literature so you can emulate it. You'll write something that will amaze you.
Lisa is the author of the acclaimed memoir Broken: A Love Story, and her journalism has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Salon, Smithsonian, and NPR. She was a staff writer for High Country News.
She’s paddled down a tributary of the Amazon in a dugout canoe, ridden an elephant through the Okavango Delta, and been bucked off a recalcitrant stallion on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Now she’s settled down in Boulder, Colorado, where she bakes truly awful paleo desserts and teaches creative writing in a unique and powerful way - which she will share with you during her class at the retreat.
On a personal note, Lisa is hysterical, incredibly kind, and deep in the middle of her second novel. Her first one almost broke her heart and now lives alone in a drawer. In other words, Lisa fully knows the writer’s life.
Week 2: July 28 – August 3, 2019
For our July session, we'll be joined by Natalie Serber. Natalie will share from her wealth of memoir and fiction writing techniques to stretch your writing craft muscles no matter your genre!
She is the author of the memoir, Community Chest, and story collection, Shout Her Lovely Name, a New York Times Notable Book, a summer reading selection from O, the Oprah Magazine, and an Oregonian Top 10 Book of the Pacific Northwest. Her fiction has appeared in Zyzzyva Magazine, The Greensboro Review, The Bellingham Review, Gulf Coast, Inkwell, and others.
Essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian, The Rumpus, Salon, and others. Natalie has received the John Steinbeck Award, Tobias Wolff Award, and H.E. Francis Award, and has been short listed in Best American Short Stories. She received her MFA from Warren Wilson College. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
Week 3: October 27 – November 2, 2019
This session has a different focus and structure. Your experience will include all of the same wonderful food, cozy rooms, and fabulous women as the other two legendary Taos retreats explained on this page; however, during this session we’ll be working with our writing in a deeper and more focused way. To get all of the details on this special session, go here. You’ll be able to apply directly from that page.
“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, Taos 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016
“The value of this retreat went far beyond my expectations. As a person who tends a wee bit toward the cynical, before experiencing Taos I couldn’t imagine the retreat experience that magically emerges from the incredibly safe and welcoming ‘container’ Jen creates.
My week in Taos was nothing less than life-changing and all that I learned continues to create a positive impact in many areas of my life. I always knew that writing was a good thing for me, but Taos opened my eyes to the value of trusting myself and my story. I came away with new energy, strong connections with some other amazing women, and memories to nourish me until I can return. I also made significant progress on my book project and left with a clear direction where my writing is headed – that was almost like the ‘icing on the cake’ compared to other amazing gifts of the retreat. As Jen says, ‘going on retreat is not self-indulgent – it is sacred.’
— Frances Banks, Taos 2014
Your fee includes everything! All lodging and all meals, daily writing seminars, yoga classes, guest speakers, field trips, on-the-spot writing coaching, plentiful snacks, and love love love.
As this is a historic building, you will encounter a 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. The rooms vary widely in size and furnishings. Rooms will be assigned in order of registration. We cannot guarantee rooms.
Note: If you will not be happy unless you are placed in a certain room, please do not plan on attending. Of course, if you must be on the ground floor for any reason, ask and we will do our best to place you there.
Smoking is restricted to 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 that we sends you), with tea and cookies, fruit and nuts, always available. The village of Taos is a 15-minute flat walk away.
“This 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 was very inspiring. It was also very comforting and inspiring to see that Jen really walks her talk on retreating, self care, and being authentic.
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. I left transformed.”
– Tammy Roth, Best-selling Author, Therapist, Retreat Leader, Taos 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018
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 yearn to make a loving, creative commitment to yourself. In that spirit, you will find a few questions on the registration and deposit page so you and I can both be sure this is the best retreat for you.
“I 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), Taos 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
More on the Money Stuff
Double rooms with shared bath: $2205 -or- 4 payments of $575 Single room with private bath: $2605 -or- 4 payments of $675
Double rooms with shared bath: $2205 -or- 4 payments of $575
Single room with private bath: $2605 -or- 4 payments of $675
Double rooms with shared bath: $2255 -or- 4 payments of $590 Single room with private bath: $2655 -or- 4 payments of $690 Single with shared bath: $2555 - or - 4 payments of $665
Week 1: April 28 – May 4, 2019
Single – 1 Payment
Single – 4 Payments
Double – 1 Payment
Double – 4 Payments
Week 2: July 28 – August 3, 2019
Single – 1 Payment
Single – 4 Payments
Double – 1 Payment
Double – 4 Payments
Week 3: October 28 – November 2, 2019
This session has a different focus and structure. Your experience will include all of the same wonderful food, cozy rooms, and fabulous women as the other two legendary Taos retreats explained on this page; however, during this session we’ll be working with our writing in a deeper and more focused way. To get all of the details on this special session, go here.
Single – 1 Payment
Single – 4 Payments
Double – 1 Payment
Double – 4 Payments
Need to cancel after paying in full? If you cancel more than 90 days before the retreat begins, we will return your payment minus the non-refundable deposit. The non-refundable deposit is equivalent to the first payment of the 4-pay option for the retreat spot you selected. If you cancel within 90 days of the retreat, we will not refund any monies, but you are welcome to sell or give away your spot, contingent upon the writer filling out the questionnaire and/or having a short conversation with Jen first.
“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, author and women’s leadership expert, taramohr.com, Taos 2011
Who Is Jen?
Jennifer Louden is a personal growth pioneer who helped launch the concept of self-care with her first best-selling book The Woman’s Comfort Book. She’s the author of 6 additional books on well-being and whole living: The Couple’s Comfort Book, The Pregnant Woman’s Comfort Book, The Woman’s Retreat Book, Comfort Secrets for Busy Women (The Comfort Queen’s Guide to Life in hardcover), The Life Organizer, and A Year of Daily Joy. There are about a million copies of her books in print in 9 languages.
Jennifer has spoken around the U.S., Canada and Europe, written a national magazine column for a Martha Stewart magazine, been profiled or quoted in dozens of major magazines, and appeared on hundreds of TV and radio shows, even on Oprah. Jennifer has been teaching retreats and leading workshops since 1992, and creating vibrant on-line communities and innovative learning experiences since 2000. She married the love of her life at 50, and is the very proud mom of Lillian and very proud bonus mom to Aidan.
Jen’s superpower is… moving you from thinking and talking to DOING. Past retreat participants have self-published books, written national columns, gotten book deals, created and taught in-person and online courses, began full-time writing careers, and learned they are in fact, writers! Nothing would make Jen happier than to help you start and most importantly, FINISH some aspect of your writing project. Her belief is that we all have scary sh*t we want to get done and we’re more likely to do it when we’ve got a coach in our corner and a community of doers surrounding us.
I know you will cherish your week with us – it truly is magical.
More Love from Our Retreat Alumni
“Whether you are a seasoned author or a newbie, Jen Louden’s retreats provide a perfect blend of structure and spaciousness to allow for your creative muse to emerge. I felt unfettered by fear of criticism, enriched by the writing exercises and group discussions, and nourished by the emphasis on deep listening to my own voice. This was a true gift in my life, and I would recommend it to all who yearn to inspire the writer within them.”
— Elise Miller
“This retreat with Jen and the community of women who came together was more than a week of writing. Her approach, center in self-love and motivation, reminded me that doing my work is centered in believing in my own capabilities, honoring myself– and in that honoring giving birth to my thoughts and experiences through writing.”
— Walker Thornton | Speaker, Author, Educator | WalkerThornton.com
“Jen’s retreat is so complete and satisfying. She really considers everything when designing this retreat. Comfort, fun, nutrition and lots of writing time and support. You’ll be glad you attended!”
— Lynn Jacobs, Taos 2017
“A week with Jen and company nurtures the body, mind and spirit. We leave well fed and rested, with a handful of writing prompts and tools. If only life beyond the retreat was just that. Today, I will write. But first, I will do this, this and this. And then I will write. Remember, conditions of enoughness. and structure. And drink lots of water. Peace out.”
— Susan Sawyers
“On retreat I learned I can sit down and write 1000 words a day, a task that seemed so daunting before. My inner critic took a form and personality, and I learned to befriend her so she can help me, not shy away from submitting pieces and receiving rejections. I couldn’t be more grateful for 22 new sister-writers to encourage each other!”
— Jem Jebbia
“The Taos Writers Retreat shifted the lens on not just my writing but also myself. I have finally been given permission to see the writing process through a compassionate and creative lens which gives me more freedom on the page. Jen’s capacity to hold space for us while we understood our inner critic and bravely brought pen to paper is a key piece of the week, and our relationships to ourselves and with each other is stronger because of it. The magic of Taos does not remain contained in the mountains but travels with us and through us as we create more magic in our stories. I am forever grateful for this experience.”
— Lara C.C. Pence, PsyD, MBA | Licensed Clinical Psychologist | DrLaraPence.com
“I came away from the Retreat knowing where I was going with my writing project. Prior to that, much frustration! I feel I changed as a writer because I value my voice in my writing now, I learned about Enoughness which really seems to bring more production in my writing than if I hadn’t experienced what it means. So much encouragement from Jen and the other writers. A time of awakening!”
— Cherie Lang
“Of course I loved the experience this year in Taos. Every morning I participated in Jen’s “dance yourself awake” which I absolutely loved! The group of women this year was phenomenal! I felt that we were “in this together” and no one was trying to out intellectualize the other. As far as the writing piece goes, I felt this year that all levels of experience and expertise were accepted, honored and celebrated. I am excited to hear about the fall offering in Taos for next year!”
— Melanie Rinn Martinek
“This was my first writer’s retreat and, while I accomplished my personal goals of writing a certain number of pages and accepting (finally) that I was indeed a writer, there were so many other benefits. The early morning dance sessions and afternoon yoga helped to stimulate creativity and literally shake loose old habits and routines. This enabled me to approach my work from different perspectives. The small and large group sessions provided invaluable support and a safe and nurturing environment for all. Jen Louden is an outstanding facilitator – knowledgeable, kind, enthusiastic and approachable. I cannot recommend Jen Louden and any enterprise she is involved with enough!”
— Dr. Joanna Kafarowski