Still Water

Release Your Inner Writer 

June 7-9, 2024

at the Loretto Maryholme Retreat Centre

on Lake Simcoe at Roches Point, Ontario

Do you long to write more easily? To calm the anxiety and perfectionism or other difficult feelings that get in the way? To step out of the constant rush of modern life and quietly focus on your inner creative voice? 

Maybe you loved scribbling stories as a kid but the pressure of ‘adulting’ has you blocked. 

Maybe you feel a strong need to tell your stories but get overwhelmed when you face the blank page (if you can even get to the desk).

Meanwhile, time keeps ticking on. And if not now, then when?

This retreat is for you if

  • you are a blocked writer or you have a strong desire to write
  • you are struggling to make the time and space to create
  • your anxiety around writing is stopping you from approaching the page or staying with the work once you start 
  • you’re writing creative non-fiction, memoir, or fiction or want to try it out 
  • you’re ready to figure out how to ‘let go and lean in’ to your stories 
 
We get it!
 
We have been facing our own creative anxiety, imposter syndrome, perfectionism, and fear for a long time-and have published, won awards, and persisted despite it. Now, we’re ready to share what helps us in order to help you fulfil your important desire to tell your stories! 
 
Join us (Lauren and Anita) at a lush, lakeside estate in Central Ontario for a full weekend of community, creativity, and connection. 

Go home with the tools and ongoing support that you need to be the writer you know deep down that you are. What are you waiting for? 
Beautiful Edgar House
Stop and smell the wild roses
Rest by the water...

Relax in century-old Edgar House’s sunroom as you write within a circle of co-regulating support. Consider your story ideas while gazing out at the lake or walking the forest labyrinth. 

Take part in playful, profound writing workshops focused on fiction and creative non-fiction. Laugh with new like-minded friends around the dining room table during delicious meals. 

Spend the weekend slowing down, understanding how to support an activated nervous system, and  nourishing feelings of safety so you can write with freedom, depth, and, yes, even joy!  

By the end of the weekend, you will return home feeling grounded, in touch with your creative self, connected with others who GET IT, continuing support, and with solid tools to help you cozy up to the page again and again! 

Want to know more? Scroll down to find out about us, what we’ll be doing, the retreat centre, and more… 

Who We Are

Lauren says:

During the process of writing my first novel, Swarm, I reached a point of stress and fear that pushed me to google ‘anxiety’ and ‘writing.’ 

Through this initial search, I began a path of in-depth learning of methods and techniques to help me normalize, address, and manage the difficulties of writing practice, from the uncertainty of the blank page to the gripping fear of reading what I had written. 

Since then, with a desire to share this empowering awareness, I’ve studied creativity coaching with Dr. Eric Maisel through the Creativity Coaching Association and trauma-informed care through Klinic Community Health. I  regularly teach methods to normalize and manage anxiety in order to find more freedom within writing practice, and have written four additional books through difficult life circumstances with the use of these methods. 

I find deep satisfaction in my life’s work helping writers (and those longing to write) acknowledge their fears, grow their self-confidence, and let go and lean in to their deepest stories. I hope that you can join us! 

Anita says:

Although neurotypical, I am part of a vibrant neurodiverse family, a trait shared by at least one of the family pets. My writing explores the intersection of neurodiversity and mental health, intergenerational trauma and breaking cycles. I have been offering writing workshops and retreats for the past six years, merging my passions for wellness and creativity. In 2023 I won second place in the Creative Non-Fiction Collective-Humber Literary Review Contest.

I am a Physiotherapist, Certified Coach, Co-Founder of Ignite Your Write, an Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) facilitator and graduate of The Humber School for Writers, The Sarah Selecky Writing School, and Spark Your Story Intensive, where I received mentorship from award-winning Canadian creative non-fiction authors Rowan McCandless and Nicole Breit.

In my spare time, I do laundry, procrasti-knit, and enjoy doggy cuddles.

What People Say About Lauren and Anita

Lauren’s calm manner and respectful words create safe spaces for all. She says, ”if you write, you are a writer!"
Hands holding open a journal and writing in it
C.C.
Anita will listen with integrity, question to gain insight, challenge gently to support, and share wisdom gained through deeply meaningful, personal experiences. She will help open up your mind to new possibilities and help you see strengths.
Hands holding open a journal and writing in it
L.D.
The balance of useful instruction, expert advice, and hands-on writing was perfect. Lauren created an inspiring space where I felt safe sharing my work.
Hand writing in a blank book with a pen and a nearby cup of coffee
Retreat Participant
[Anita] provides room for all characters at the table and a soft landing for all our messy, troubled, shadowy lives.
A woman holding an open book in front of a lake
Retreat Participant
Wondering if this retreat is for you? 
Book a video or phone call with Lauren to find out more about the space, the content, the facilitators or just to see if you connect. 

Ready to discover the way in 

to your writing?  

Space is limited so register today and save $200! (Early bird ends April 10)

Single $1129; Double $929

Securable with a $200 deposit

(After early bird: $1329, double; $1129, single. Grab your spot today!)

About the Loretto Maryholme Centre

Lined with fragrant flowering hedges, the curving driveway into this Ontario Retreat Centre arrives at a historic estate overlooking Lake Simcoe. During our three days at this beautiful place, we will enjoy: 

  •  easy accessibility from Toronto (just one hour’s drive!) 
  • single or double accommodations in rambling Edgar House, built in the 1880s, and the adjacent “servants’ quarters,” constructed in the 1920s
  • eight bathrooms between the two houses
  • twelve acres of lake-front property, with a wildflower meadow, contemplative cedar forest walk, labyrinth, lush spring gardens, and amazing views 
 
  • lots of peaceful areas for writing, including benches, lawnchairs, the sunroom and library, and living rooms with fireplaces in case it’s cool (plus there’s A/C in case it’s blistering) 
  • optional activities, including paddling (a canoe is available), swimming, visiting the nearby beach and nature preserve, or just having a soak in a clawfoot tub 
  • family-style dining (all meals are provided) plus a full kitchen accessible for snacks, coffee, and tea 

 

The Centre is a ministry of the Canadian Loretto Sisters with a special focus on the areas of justice, education, and spirituality and a mission to “encourage individuals and groups to explore and restore the energies needed for personal, communal, and world transformation.” 

Welcoming guests and visitors of all faiths and backgrounds, the Centre is located on the traditional territories of the Chippewa and Mississauga and the First Peoples of the Williams Treaties First Nations. 

About Our Time Together

Friday: Settle In & Breathe Deep 

Arrive early, at 2 p.m., to settle in, receive your gift bag, and walk the labyrinth or write in the sunroom to set your intentions

Saturday: Connect & Calm

Gather to learn about grounding, getting calm, and how this can help you enter your writing… Wander the wildflower gardens, lounge on the lawn, take a swim, sit on the dock… Write some more, and indulge in delicious food and creative conversation.  

Sunday: Create & Co-Regulate 

Expand your creativity with collage for writers or settle into deep silent writing… 

Reflect on your weekend learning and create intentions… 

Go home with new like-minded friends, skills to maintain a deep writing practice, and ongoing support for your writing self…

We can’t wait to write with you and help you be the writer you know you are! What are you waiting for? 

About the Sessions

Introvert-Friendly Connect and Contain with Lauren and Anita (Fri evening)

So many of us HATE the go-around-the-room-and-introduce-yourself thing. After dinner on Friday night, we’ll skip the dry mouth and rapid heartbeat and engage in casual prompted conversations to connect, create community, and ignite our imaginations for the writing to come.

Writing with the Body with Anita and Lauren (Sat morning) 

Sometimes entering our imagination can trigger a nervous system response–especially when writing the hard stuff. Learn ways to work with your body to find safety, flow, and connection within creative work. (Note: this session will respect individual relationships with the body, as per trauma-informed facilitation).  

The Lie that Tells the Truth with Lauren (Sat aft)

Tell all the truth but tell it slant, Emily Dickinson famously said. In this workshop we will talk about how using our imaginations and the creative impulses of fiction can help us write our difficult stories–and do lots of playful and curiosity-focused writing to see what emerges. 

Playing with Outlier Forms with Anita (Sat aft)

In this workshop we will bring all our senses into a grounding pre-writing activity. From there we will experiment with some outlier forms as containers to hold our words. We’ll talk about how to use these and other CNF forms as building blocks for projects or publication.

Writer’s Collage with Anita (Sun morning)

Sometimes the way into new work is through the back door. Making space for the subconscious
to express itself through imagery and collage can unlock new perspectives and connections that elude us when writing solely from the intellect.

Pick-A-Prompt Silent Co-Regulating Write-In with Lauren (Sun morning)

Lean into the silence of a group of working writers during this relaxing Sunday morning writing circle. Grab a prompt when you arrive, settle in, and write for an hour. When the silent time is up, we’ll talk about how it went. 

Come for the Learning, Stay for the...

  • Accommodations in gorgeous 19th and early 20th century houses, on a historic natural acreage
  • New friendships with like-minded writers who understand the challenges you face
  • Gift bag filled with carefully selected swag to nurture the tender-hearted writer in you
  • Delicious family-style meals from Friday dinner to Sunday lunch, accommodating all dietary needs, and self-serve coffee/tea 
  • Methods to connect with your writing and yourself in supportive and healthy ways which you can use forever
  • Time to immerse  in beautiful and peaceful natural surroundings–wander the labyrinth, swim in the lake, listen to the birds…
  • A closing giveaway raffle featuring some special handknit garments (by Anita and Lauren!) and other treats 

Ready to discover the way in 

to your writing? 

Space is limited so register today and save $200! (Early bird ends April 10)

Single $1129; Double $929

Securable with a $200 deposit

(After early bird: $1329, double; $1129, single. Grab your spot today!)

Have Questions? Read our FAQ

The retreat fee includes accommodations, meals from Friday’s dinner to Sunday’s lunch, and all programming. 

What isn’t included: transportation to Loretto Maryholme, alcoholic beverages, and any special snacks and beverages you want to bring. 

Like any writing retreat, we will be writing a lot, using prompts and creative approaches. 

We’ll also be talking about the totally normal connection between anxiety and creativity and how to manage it so it doesn’t block you. We’ll be practicing methods to use to help you ‘let go and lean in’ to your writing. 

You will be invited to share your writing when invited or not share at all. It is totally up to you! All work will be treated as fiction, as per the Amherst Writers Method (an approach that Anita is trained in).

And we’ll be eating delicious meals, enjoying the beautiful landscape, and relaxing. 

Not at all! You can write whatever comes out. We will offer guidance on getting calm and going deeper with the work but what you write depends on where your magical subconscious takes you! Any prompts that we provide are always just suggestions. The most important thing is to follow your own flow and instincts. Our exercises, suggestions, and facilitation might help you connect with more emotional material but you might also simply not want to go there. All results are welcome! Plus, we’ll have lots of fun! 

You are free to participant in the retreat in whatever way works for you. If this means sitting on the dock reading and joining us only for meals, that is fine. So is writing with us as much as you can but staying silent about what you produce. It’s up to you! You always have the option to voice your preferences or any concerns and decide what you need to support yourself. Having said that, if we can provide support or customization to help you take part, please do let us know on the registration form.

You bet! Anita is a trained facilitator in the Amherst Method which supports the discovery of your unique voice and proclaims that if you write, you’re a writer (like if you bake, you’re a baker). I also appreciate and utilize the Amherst principles, so together we’ll be focusing on creative expansion and exploration rather than critique or formal lessons. That said, if you have any questions, we are happy to discuss craft, publication, or other aspects of the writing world. 

Yes, please! On the registration form, tell us your dietary requirements and we’ll clearly communicate your needs to the caterer. 

You can do either! We have rates for both single and double accommodation. Edgar House has 8 Bedrooms (4 singles, 4 doubles with ensuite bathrooms) and 6 full washrooms while Fensom Cottage has 1 double bedroom available (Anita and Lauren will be taking the other one), with 2 washrooms (one full, with a shower). 

Both Edgar House and Fulsom Cottage are accessible immediately off the front drive. 

The parking area is about a 400 metre walk away (we are available to offer help!). 

Edgar has four wide stone stairs up to the entrance (with banisters on either side) and a ramp. There’s a small lip at the door. 

There are five bedrooms on the main floor which you can request on the registration form as well as main floor bathrooms. 

Fensom Cottage (next door to Edgar) is one story. It has one step at the entrance and all the bedrooms/bathrooms are on the main floor. 

All programming will take place on the main floor of either house. 

The water and dock is accessible via a flight of stairs down the bluff. There is a beach a short drive away. 

The grounds immediately surrounding the house are lawn and paved driveway. Both houses have decks available for use. 

If you have any questions/concerns/needs, please connect with us

Great question! Here’s the nitty-gritty: 

We can issue you a refund of your deposit if you cancel by May 10 (giving us enough time to book someone else into your space) because we have to pay for accommodation and food up front. You can also transfer your reservation to someone else. 

After May 10, the deposit and/or full payment is non-refundable. If you’re registering after May 10, we require the full amount. If you depart early during a program, full tuition and room charges will still apply. 

Should we have to cancel the retreat for any reason, including low registration, you’ll receive a minimum of two weeks’ notice and receive a 100% refund. 

If you have questions, please send us a message at lauren@wildgroundwriting.com

The retreat centre’s website has thorough directions to help you find your way. If you’re coming from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, visit this page for information about your options.  

You can check in at 2 p.m. on Friday, June 7th, and enjoy the afternoon before we come together for a labyrinth walk, then dinner. A full itinerary will be e-mailed to you a few days before the retreat. Check out is Sunday afternoon by 3 p.m.