Professional Development and Writing Retreats

Registration for our upcoming online retreat is open now! Click below to learn more.


An opportunity to reconnect to your passion as an AWA facilitator, take your skills to the next level, invest further in your business, and renew as a writer among a supportive community of experienced leaders.

Every year, AWA hosts a retreat to bring our large network of trained writing workshop leaders together. Join us if you’ve ever taken an AWA training, whether it was in 1999 or 2019!

Participants bring their unique perspectives on this work to a long weekend of panel discussions, facilitated writing sessions, presentations and workshops. We co-create each program based on the interests and assets of each person coming. You will be invited to share your knowledge and questions with fellow workshop leaders as you all lead different sessions. You’ll get to know one another on a deep level as each person takes their turn in the spotlight.

If you prefer to relax and let others take charge, we understand. We have designed this retreat to be a restorative break, too. No one is required to lead a session. Let go of holding the creative space and AWA practices in place. Sink deeply into your own work as a writer.

The location of the retreat changes year to year, rotating around the US and Canada to make it easier for all to attend. Past events have taken place in New Mexico and Ontario in 2018, Nevada and Ontario in 2019. In 2020, gathered in the virtual world via Zoom from October 2–4. This year, we’ll return to Zoom from October 1–3, 2021. We’ll open registration for that event this summer.

To help you with planning, we’ve roughed out our forthcoming schedule several years out.  Mark your calendars!

  • 2021 – Online via Zoom – October 1–3
  • 2022 – Western US – first weekend in October
  • 2023 – Canada– summer, dates TBA
  • 2024 – Mid-US or Southern-US – first weekend in October
  • 2025 – Canada – summer, dates TBA
  • 2026 – Eastern US  – first weekend in October
  • 2027 – Canada  – summer, dates TBA

I loved the 2018 retreat. My fellow leaders and the super-positive vibe of the retreat center facilitated a lot of deep writing, probably the deepest I’ve done in 15+ years. Other highlights included getting to know AWA folks from all over the country; brainstorming what turned into a new mini-workshop (“Playwright for a Day”) at one of the marketing sessions; and setting the wheels in motion for the May 2019 “Write Around the World” gathering of AWA Northeast colleagues in Salem, MA.

—Marian Calabro

Curious about what you can look forward to?

Support your own writing practice

You hold space for others all the time. Let this be an opportunity to relax the part of your brain that focuses on leadership. Take time to write with others as a participant, totally focused on your craft. Receive feedback on your writing from facilitators who know the AWA practices and will hold that safe space for you.

Grow as a facilitator and develop your writing facilitation services

Have you been thinking about expanding into offering an online workshop? Want to help your workshop participants get published or get more of your own work published? Want to work with a particular population?  Need to build your email list for promotion?  Want to offer a workshop with a particular focus—memoir or poetry?  Short story or plays? Learn from your colleagues who are already doing what you want to do!

Plus, consider what can you share from your own practice. Are you working with a specific population? Are you delivering workshops in a unique environment or with a particular focus?

When you register, you will be asked if you are interested in leading a writing session or presenting on a topic. You don’t have to be an expert! Maybe you’ve always wanted to lead a group for writing about grief. Come prepared to offer what you already know and facilitate a discussion and resource sharing session with your peers.

You’ll learn best practices and the solutions other leaders have tried and tested.  There will be hands-on work time and guidance, from writing marketing copy and to developing new offerings. Curious about a sample schedule from past years? Here’s what we did in 2019.

Strengthen your AWA community and resource network

Face-to-face time with other affiliates is priceless! This kind of experience allows you to make friends with your AWA colleagues. Going home, you’ll have more folks to turn to for workshop advice, writing support, and more. Members of the AWA board will be in attendance, too.  Connect more to the organization as a whole and learn new ways AWA can be here for you.

I enjoyed the different topics, the sharing, and especially the writing. It was wonderful to write in the company of other AWA facilitators. There was an immediate sense of safety and community. I also liked the retreat center, which was welcoming and comfortable. I appreciated the group leadership and facilitation. The business-related discussions were helpful. The organizers did a great job of scheduling interesting and varied topics, and were quite generous in their time and spirit. I’ll always remember hearing/seeing Pat Schneider and her good wishes for all of us via video. Overall, for me, the structure, amount of time, balance between scheduled and unscheduled time, etc. worked really well and I would love to attend another conference in the future.

—Ruth Q. Leibowitz, Ph.D.