August 2018 Writing Retreat

We Are All Apprentices 

A 5-day writing retreat with

Janelle Hanchett


August 29 – September 2, 2018

Pescadero, California


In 2015, I held my first writing retreat with 8 women I had been writing with online for a year. In a word, it was magic.

And you know how I feel about expressions like “it was magic.”

Only it was, in fact, magic.

Last year, I held my first retreat with 12 people who weren’t in that writing group, and it was, again, don’t make me say it.

We spent mornings on a sunny deck drinking coffee under the coastal redwoods, then headed off to the yurt with a roaring wood-stove to discuss various aspects of the craft of writing. We ate lunch together on a big wooden table, enjoying food prepared by one of my best friends, Sarah, who also happens to be a chef.

In the afternoons, we spread out around the retreat center and wrote or read or napped, sat in the hot tub or took a dip in the pool. One day, we went to the ocean and watched the waves crash on my beloved, jagged northern California shoreline.

In the evenings, we (well, they, since I don’t drink) sipped wine on the deck and after dinner, gathered around the enormous fireplace in the main ranch house to workshop one another’s writing.

We left friends, and better writers. And we possibly left crying.

The experience was transformative, and for that reason, I am doing it again this year.

Join me this August for a 5-day writing retreat on the north coast of California, just outside the town of Pescadero.

Here’s a sample daily schedule: 

This workshop is for the writer looking to improve her craft.

While we will talk about creative work generally, and focus some on fear and the thought processes that block us from writing, our main focus is on improving our skill in writing. That said, this is not a lecture/school course. This is a dynamic, fun, interactive time for you to hone your craft and learning how the doing often affects the thinking.

In other words, the act of writing often systematically deconstructs our fears about writing. I will explain this more, but for now, you’ll have to trust me.

This is why I focus the retreat on craft.

Because if we focus on becoming the best writers we can become, a lot of the mental bullshit will fall away. Or, perhaps better said, it simply becomes irrelevant.

Goddess Ursula K. Le Guin said it best: “Craft enables art.” 

What’s the venue? 

Oh my god. Let me tell you about this place. First of all, it is NOT fancy. If you want fancy, you gotta go somewhere else. It’s rustic. It’s funky. It’s so full of creative beauty it makes me want to cry, right now, sitting in my damn office.

It’s an old ranch house from the 1850s set outside the quaint coastal town of Pescadero, about 5 miles from the ocean. In the 60s, it became a nudist colony for artists, and since then, it has been a place for artists and other creative people.

Creativity is in the air.

Joan Baez had a reunion of her hippie colony here. You can still feel the music. She used to cook and sing with her friends here. You can still hear her voice.

There are redwood trees and a hot tub under the stars. There’s a big old pool from the 60s. There’s a huge stone fireplace and wood floors. There’s a fire pit. There’s a huge deck and incredible energy.

But I have to repeat: It is not fancy. It’s clean and comfortable and rustic, but it’s not flashy and it’s not “new.” It is run by a nonprofit devoted to keeping it open for artists, so it doesn’t have a corporate investor backing it. This equals “not fancy,” and some things could use updating.

But we’re here for the energy, for the natural beauty, for the comfort of relaxed, warm, friendly environment. This, to me, is the “real” northern California. I’ve lived my whole life here. This place is the real deal.

 Sleeping Arrangements:

This retreat is open to 12 people. There are four large rooms that will each be shared by 3 writers. There is one single occupancy room just behind the main house. There are 2.5 bathrooms we will share.

As I say, rustic! Shared! Not fancy!

But look. This is the place.

I truly hope you join us. 

the ranch house

this hot tub at night under the stars.

the yurt where we hold morning workshops

the beach nearby, where we will spend one afternoon together

Sarah and my husband Mac, who comes to help. Why are cooks always assholes?

the main room where we will hold evening writing roundtables, and hang out.


Dates: August 29 – September 2, 2018

Cost: $1,550*. Here’s what you get:

        • Four-night accommodations in the world-famous (and I’m not kidding) coastal San Francisco area
        • All of your meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, all prepared by Sarah, a professional chef. Healthy, expansive, and largely organic and locally sourced.
        • Three hours of writing craft instruction each morning (Note: If you attended last year, don’t worry, content will be NEW.)
        • Two hours of evening writing workshopping, where you will receive feedback on your work if you’d like, and offer feedback to others. I will comment on all writing submitted.
        • Optional morning yoga.
        • Optional hikes in the redwoods, bike rides, and trips into the idyllic little town of Pescadero.
        • Evening bonfires built by my lovely, bearded husband, Mac. Maybe he’ll play guitar for us. He and Sarah will definitely sing.

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    • *REFUND POLICY: The $300 deposit is non-refundable. The full retreat amount will be due July 15, 2018. If for some reason you cannot attend the retreat, I cannot offer a refund on the remaining balance unless, again, there is a waitlist.