The 2017 Hawai’i Writers’ Retreat

A week of writing and island living. This event is past. Registration is open for our 2018 retreat.

17_haw_q4Dates: December 10-16, 2017
Location: Puako, Hawai’i
Faculty: Sheila Bender; Brenda Miller
Housing and workshop sessions take place in private three-bedroom condos at Fairway Villas Waikoloa.
Tuition & Villa: private room: $1,200
Tuition & Villa: shared room: $600
Contact: [email protected]

The Hawai’i Writers’ Retreat is designed to get you to a completed new prose piece in just one week–while enjoying one of the most beautiful, inspirational places in the world.

Mornings at the Hawai’i Writers’ Retreat feature intensive craft lectures, as well as generative-writing workshops. In three intensive days Monday through Wednesday we’ll discuss:

Sunset at Anaeho'omalu Beach is one of the most famous in the world.
Sunset at Anaeho’omalu Beach is one of the most famous in the world.

1. Voice, language, tone, color, imagery, and feel
2. Character, story, conflict, tension, and dialogue; and
3. Scene-building, crisis, and resolution, as well as dramatic movement.

All this is will give us the fuel and inspiration to complete one new piece. On Friday, we’ll do a full discussion on this new raw draft: you’ll leave the workshop with a finished and workshopped piece ready for advanced revision or submission; with new craft tools, connections, and community as a writer; and with writing inspiration to last deep into the new year.

Afternoons at the retreat present all the time and space to read, write, relax, swim, and enjoy everything the Big Island has to offer.

Villa interior
Villa living rooms


Sunday, December 10
4 pm onward: Arrivals, getting settled. Welcome gathering in condo J-32 from 7 pm to 9 pm.
Monday, December 11
9 am-10 am: craft lecture by Sheila Bender: “Write Short to Write Deep.”
10 am-1 pm: morning workshop with Sheila and Brenda: voice, language, tone, color, imagery, and feel.
Tuesday, December 12
9 am-10 am: Craft lecture by Brenda Miller: “The Hermit Crab: Using Adopted Forms to Tell Your Story.”
10 am-1 pm: morning workshop with Sheila and Brenda: character, story, conflict, tension, and dialogue.
Wednesday, December 13kauai-snorkeling-green-sea-turtle
10 am-1 pm: morning workshop with Sheila and Brenda: dramatic movement: scene-building, crisis, resolution.
Thursday, December 14
Writing day/island day.
Friday, December 15
9 am-1 pm: workshop sessions.
2-4 pm: workshop sessions.
Saturday, December 16
Departure by 10 am.


unnamedSheila Bender’s passion is helping writers break out into new forms, revise effectively, generate more writing and facilitate the writing of others. In the last three decades, she has worked with hundreds of people helping them write personal essays, poetry, fiction, and more meaningful writer’s journals, in addition to book-length memoir, how-to books and novels. She is the author of the memoir, A New Theology: Turning to Poetry in a Time of Griefthe poetry collection Behind Us the Way Grows Wider, and the instructional book Creative Writing Demystifiedavailable in e-book format. More of her instructional work includes Sorrow’s Words: Writing Exercises to Heal Grief, and Writing In a Convertible with the Top Down, co-authored with Christi Glover. She has taught at colleges, universities and community centers and presented at national writers’ programs and conferences. In 2013, she served as Seattle University’s Distinguished Guest Lecturer in Poetry.

millerBrenda Miller teaches in the MFA program in Creative Writing and the MA program in English Studies at Western Washington University. She is the author of An Earlier Life,  Who You Will BecomeListening Against the StoneBlessing of the Animals, and Season of the Body. She co-authored, with poet Holly J. Hughes, The Pen and the Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World. She is also the co-author of Tell it Slant: Creating, Refining, and Publishing Creative Nonfiction, now in its second edition. Her work has received six Pushcart Prizes and essays have appeared in many journals, including Creative Nonfiction, The Sun, Utne Reader, The Georgia Review, and The Missouri Review. Brenda lives in Bellingham, Washington, with her dog Abbe.

Puako is located on the sunny northwestern shore of the Big Island of Hawai’i, about 45 minutes from the airport at Kona. Featuring leafy parks and beach parks, and with the convenience of several amenities located right nearby–including great restaurants, tiki bars, and coffee shops–Waikoloa is only ten minutes away from Hapuna Beach, one of the best white sand beaches on the island. Your tuition includes airport pickup and dropoff, if desired!

The Big Island of Hawai’i. Our workshop takes place on the northwestern coast.

Workshop sessions are intensive, inspiring, and designed to get you to a new, advanced short-short piece in one week. A plethora of readings from a wide variety of writers helps to fuel our discussion and freewriting.

In one of the most beautiful and inspiring locations on earth, spend your afternoons enjoying the best of what Big Island has to offer, including enjoying the beach or water, hiking, golf, discovering the history and culture of Hawai’i, or simply reading and writing at good restaurants and cafes.

Contact: [email protected]


$50 is nonrefundable upon registration. The rest of your tuition and housing is fully refundable up through September 10, 2017, and nonrefundable after that date.