Writing on the Big Sur Coast with Laura
Crafting Personal Stories That Are Vivid, Compelling and True
Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California
Canceled for April 2017 due to mud slides.
Photo courtesy of Esalen Institute. Credit: Catherine Karnitis
Come write your heart out at one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. Join master teacher Laura Davis and a vibrant, supportive writing community at the Esalen Institute on the wild Pacific cliffs of Big Sur, California.
"The writing workshop I attended with Laura Davis at Esalen was my very first writing workshop. The weekend was everything I'd hoped for - and so much more. Laura's powerful exercises opened the floodgates of my subconscious - and for months afterwards, writing just flew out of me. The effects of Laura's insightful guidance went far deeper than I ever could have imagined. I found my voice - and uncovered parts of my past I had buried for decades. It was the most enlightening therapy I could imagine. A writing workshop with Laura at Esalen, perched overlooking the magnificent Big Sur coastline, makes for a truly a magical weekend."
--Myra Goodman, co-founder of Earthbound Farm, author of Earthbound Cook and Food to Live By
Many of us hold a deep dream of wanting to write. We want to write so we can understand ourselves more deeply and so that we can be seen. We sense that there are stories living inside of us that need to be told, but in our busy lives, we have not been able to create the time, space or circumstances in which to do so.
This five-day workshop will give you that time. In our days together, we will create a vibrant, supportive writing community. Through creative exercises, guided meditations, and evocative writing prompts, you will learn to transform scraps of memory into a rich written legacy. You will walk away with a myriad of strategies for writing about events that happened years ago with fresh immediacy.
Both new and seasoned writers are welcome to attend.
Is This Retreat For Me?
This retreat is for people who want to use writing as a tool for self-knowledge, growth, and deepening awareness. The focus will be on personal storytelling in a safe supportive circle.
This workshop will not be a critique group for polishing finished pieces. Rather, we will alternate periods of writing with listening to each other—not from a place of judgment or analysis—but from a place of focused attention and deep acceptance.
You will walk away from this workshop with a substantial body of writing, as well as many essential skills and exercises for generating evocative, powerful, vivid stories about your life.
I’m ready to have a deeply healing and nourishing experience.
Esalen Institute, Big Sur California
The Wonders of Esalen: Big Sur is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Four hours south of San Francisco, three hours south of San Jose, the Esalen Institute is a rocky paradise perched directly on cliffs overlooking the crashing, wild Pacific Ocean. Esalen encompasses 120 acres carved out of fertile ground full of lush gardens and pathways that weave between mountains and ocean. the property.
The world-famous Esalen baths are fed by natural hot springs that fill the baths with healing water year round. And people have come from around the world to bathe in their healing, transformative, deeply relaxing waters.
Cost and Accommodations: Esalen fees cover tuition, food and lodging and vary according to accommodations: ranging from $405 (for sleeping bag space) to $730 (and more for single or premium rooms). If you want your choice of rooms, it's good to register early. Some work-scholarship assistance is available, as well as small prepayment discounts and senior discounts.
To learn about costs and available accommodations, click here.
"I’ve always thought I’d like to write to get my ideas and visions across—to convey my dreams to people and to help them with their own dreams. I feel now, after this workshop, that this may be possible. It’s only up to me now."
--Fawaz Mourad, Lebanon
Yes, Laura, I want to meet you in Esalen next April!
Teachers and Guides
Writing Workshop Instructor:
Laura Davis is the author of seven non-fiction books, including The Courage to Heal, Becoming the Parent You Want to Be and I Thought We’d Never Speak Again. Laura’s groundbreaking books have sold more than 1.8 million copies around the world. Laura has also worked as a columnist, talk show host, radio reporter, radio producer, blogger, editor, and speaker.
She is a cancer survivor, the mother of three, the grandmother of three, and has buried both her parents. In other words, she is a well-seasoned human being.
Words have always been at the core of her work and her self-expression.
Laura has been mentoring and supporting writers for the past 20 years. It is truly the work of her heart:
“I love teaching. I love watching my students find their natural voice and their rhythm. I love it when they find their true stories and discover the courage to put them on the page. I feel like a midwife as my students birth their stories, and I feel honored to witness their bursts of creativity and pure life energy pouring out on the page. Our writing circles are safe places where skills are honed, tears and laughter are welcome, and each writer is seen, heard and deeply known.”
Currently, Laura leads weekly writing groups and retreats in the Santa Cruz, CA region, as well as retreats internationally. She has taken writers to Bali and Scotland, Greece, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. She documents these trips to the delight of many readers in her blog, The Virtual Vacation. You can read a wonderful interview with Laura here.
Praise for Laura
Laura has such an open heart and gives particular care to each person at the retreat. The manner and comfort with which she teaches encourages me to write—and not be afraid of sharing. Attending her retreats has provided me with a balance I didn’t know I needed until I began to attend.
What did Laura bring to the retreat? She brought herself, which is all anyone would ever need.
Laura is organized, articulate and extremely caring. She is an amazing listener and guides the retreat effortlessly. I came thinking I might not stay and I’m so grateful I stayed. I feel safe with Laura.
Laura creates a safe and sacred environment that gave me permission to move beyond my edges, jump-starting my process and nudging me forward into the next level of my writing.
Laura brought herself to the retreat through the many readings she chose. Each touched me deeply. Thank you Laura.
Laura continues to amaze me with her ability to organize and lead. Each workshop I have attended with her has had a different focus, yet all of them have let me to a new opening up of my inner thoughts, always rekindling my desire to write more in my life.
As a teacher, Laura gets to the heart of every matter with kindness and knowledge. Her openness is always appreciated. What Laura brought to this retreat was herself and her caring is always heartfelt.
In just a brief period of time, Laura brings a sense of inclusion and safety that enables people to share what may be difficult.
Laura has such a wonderful down to earth way of leading and teaching. She has an authenticity about her that makes it special to be in her presence.
--Amy White, Author, Coach and Advocate
A gift of time, space, quiet and restoration.
Laura’s patience, wisdom and organization moved this retreat along as smooth as silk, as she filled it to the brim with advice through poetry and writing prompts.
Photo courtesy of Esalen Institute. Credit: Daniel Bianchetta
Yes, sign me up for a creative, deeply restorative retreat.
Endorsements for Laura’s Workshop at Esalen
Laura Davis is a highly successful, published author who also knows how to create and hold a space for you to grow into the writer you want to become. She’s a warm, open person and an encouraging yet honest teacher.
--Gayle Yamauchi-Gleason, Santa Cruz, CA
Heartfelt gratitude to you for offering a place where I could be BRAVE and INVINCIBLE!
--Alexandra Morgan, Orinda, CA
Laura Davis provides an open, welcoming environment to explore your writing and your self. The class is both beautifully curated and is supportive of both creativity and personal journey. Laura’s workshop created a framework in which I could connect to vivid memories and build my practice of writing.
--Sarah Van Aven, Philadelphia
Under Laura's wise and expert tutelage, what was once a solitary endeavour became a group activity where the synergy of like-minded others and a safe space allowed me to hone my voice and markedly improve my skill as a writer. The writing exercises, camaraderie, and feedback energized my writing process and enhanced my self-confidence. I would wholeheartedly recommend a writing retreat with Laura Davis.
I would definitely recommend this workshop to anyone, even if they don’t consider themselves writers—or are new to the process. Laura Davis is a wonderful teacher and it was an honor to spend the weekend with her.
--Alissa Ferranto, San Rafael, CA
This fun event with Laura Davis at Esalen brought a joy of discovery into my long time (49 years) fantasy of learning to write so I could share some incredible mind-blowing highlights of my highly adventurous life. To present my stories in a manner that is appealing, empowering and beneficial has been a lifetime goal. Laura Davis was a huge help in seeing the way THERE!
--Pierre Pulling, Napa, Oakland, France, India
Laura Davis’ writing workshop will draw ideas and stories from you that you didn’t even know were there. The workshop’s well thought-out method encourages making connections and putting new order into familiar experiences.
--Marianne Huber, Dixon, Illinois
Laura Davis, teamed with Esalen, is an experience that will open your heart to deeper levels. The culture of Esalen and Laura’s gentle writing instruction were the perfect combination for the rejuvenation of my mind, body and spirit.
--Shannon LaGrandier, Santa Cruz, CA
Baths overlooking the ocean and supportive environment in which to write—what more can you ask for?
--Iris Kachuck, Watsonville CA
I was unsure what to expect when I signed up for Laura’s retreat at Esalen. Would I leave exhausted, disappointed or feel as if I was coming up short? Instead, Laura guided me in a calm way to explore myself in a more authentic and intimate manner than in other workshops. I recommend Laura’s style and caring, gentle approach to anyone who asks, ‘Can I really dare to think I might have something inside to write and maybe even share?’
--Susan Wedow, Santa Barbara, CA
Laura’s retreat will provide you with an amazing excavation into your own life experiences. It will help you rediscover your own creativity if it has been lost or forgotten.
--Alissa Ferranto, San Rafael, CA
Writing can be scary because it often takes you right to all the places that still need to be healed. Laura’s workshop was very helpful because she created a safe place to explore, tools to get out of my own way, and exercises that helped me go to places I couldn’t go my own. Laura offers just the right perspective and guidance—and the safe container a writer needs to develop or continue a writing practice.
--Delana Gardner, Big Sur CA
Writing to Laura’s prompts and then sharing what we wrote was an amazing, powerful deeply transformative experience. I feel like seeds have been planted for me to begin to really develop as a writer.
--Alissa Ferranto, Alissa Ferranto, San Rafael, CA
For years I’ve wanted to write to experience my own voice and deepen the listening I might have with the Truth of my life. One of the obstacles to my engaging with writing has been feeling isolated. In Laura’s workshops, I feel connected and privileged as a writer in community. Being in her workshop has been a gift to dissolve the other obstacles—that of feeling exposed.
--Emmah Smyth, Santa Clara
Laura Davis has revolutionized my relationship to writing. She has shown me that writing can be free and fun. I do not have to face a blank page and wonder how to tell my story. Her prompts lead the way into my soul.
--Shannon LaGrandier, Santa Cruz, CA
Inclusions & Travel
- Room, board and three delicious meals a day.
- All writing instruction for a life-changing retreat.
- The services of your capable, compassionate leader.
- 24-hour access to the world-famous Esalen baths
- Stunning gardens to wander in
- Incredible vistas of the wild Pacific coast
- An outdoor swimming pool
- Access to the Esalen art barn and special all-community classes
- An amazing community that will lead to deep connections and new friends.
What's not included:
- Transportation to and from the Esalen Institute.
- Travel insurance to protect your investment in this retreat. (To be purchased on your own).
TRAVEL TO THE RETREAT
Arrival and Departure Times: You can arrive at Esalen beginning at 2 PM on Sunday, April 9th on our arrival day. Room keys will be available by 2:30. You can stay until 2 PM on our departure day, Friday, April 14th. Our final session will take place before lunch and our retreat will end with a group lunch together.
Please arrange your travel so you can be at the retreat for the entire time.
Esalen is approximately three hours from San Francisco International Airport (SFO), 2 and a half hours from San Jose Airport (SJC), and an hour and 15 minutes from Monterey Airport (MRY).
Shuttle van service is available from all three of these airports on Fridays and Sundays. For shuttle schedules and pricing, please click here.
Need More Travel Info?
For all other information about getting to the Esalen Institute, you can find all the relevant information on their website.
Yes, I want to craft personal stories that are vivid, compelling and true!
Esalen fees cover tuition, food and lodging and vary according to accommodations: ranging from $650 (for sleeping bag space) to $1315 (and more for single or premium rooms).
If you want your choice of rooms, it's good to register early. Some work-scholarship assistance is available, as well as small prepayment discounts and senior discounts for those 65 and older.
To learn about costs and available accommodations, click here.
ESALEN'S CANCELLATION POLICY:
If you cancel or change any part of your reservation at least seven full days before the start of your workshop(s), your non-refundable deposit, less a $75-per-workshop, per-person processing fee, will be transferred to an Esalen non-refundable credit account to be used within one year.
If you cancel a workshop with less than seven days notice, you forfeit your entire deposit. If you have prepaid your entire reservation fee, we will retain the fees as stated above and return the balance to you.
"Twisting along Highway 1 with the crashing ocean waves as your symphony, it’s easy to leave your life behind and fully arrive at Esalen. From the outside tubs under a starry sky, hawks that perch close by and are as curious about you and you about them, Esalen offers a space to open, explore, rejuvenate and heal. Combine writing while looking at the salmon sunset while Laura teaches you how to pull things out of your psyche that you may have forgotten. And the magic abounds. If you appreciate words on a page like air in your lungs, this retreat is the perfect combination for you."
--Julie Sheehan, Livermore CA
Want To Be Informed When This Retreat Is Rescheduled?
If you would like to be informed when the retreat is rescheduled, please complete the form below.