Introducing REWILD, an immersive writing workshop for all curious writers. Come spend a weekend "on assignment" as a nature writer.
Gunflint Trail, Minnesota | 2019 | DATE TBA
Ever wonder what it'd be like to write for National Geographic?
REWILD is an experiential writing workshop. A retreat. A creative adventure. A concentrated growth opportunity. The skills you learn and friends you make will support your writing for years to come.
REWILD will take place in northern Minnesota. You'll venture out on a day trip to a hidden waterfall in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Take time to journal, swim, practice your photography, or simply relax. Immerse yourself in seminars, practicums, and creative experiences. At a comfortable lakeside lodge, a working professional writer will guide you step by step through the process of writing your own nature vignette—a miniature version of the kind of story you see featured on magazine covers.
At the end of the workshop, you’ll have a chance to give a reading and be applauded for your work. You may also choose to have your story published on the forthcoming Wildhaus Studio blog.
Before and after the in-person workshop, you'll enjoy three private mini-workshops delivered live online (and recorded for your convenience) to jumpstart your writing practice.
For curious writers of all levels, REWILD is a weekend to develop as a writer and inspire new possibilities for your creative life.
Some writing topics we'll delve into:
- Weaving descriptions that summon a vivid sense of place
- The structure of a story
- What to do--and not to do--when you run into writer's block
- How to prevent writer's block altogether (it's possible!)
- What "voice" is and how to find yours
- Crafting beginnings that grab the reader by the eyeballs
Imagine a million acres of fairytale forest filigreed with blue. That's Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Think misty mornings, loon songs, sunset swims, and nights so clear and dark you can see the Milky Way. Little wonder National Geographic named the Boundary Waters one of the world’s 50 Places of a Lifetime.
Home base for our workshop will be Menogyn--Ojibwe for “to grow fully”—a historic camp on the shore of West Bearskin Lake, on the edge of the Boundary Waters. (There won't be kids around while we're there.) YMCA Camp Menogyn dates back to 1922. We’ll stay in modern bunkhouses with electricity and dine on homestyle fare made with care by the in-house chef.
Hi there, I'm Shelby Gonzalez. Born and forged in Minnesota, I now live in the Pacific Northwest, where I’m a senior writer for REI Co-op. My background includes an adventure column (Miss Guided), hundreds of published stories, and a managing editor role at Northern Wilds magazine. My most recent feature is about volcanoes and the search for alien life.
Before the Workshop
Receive final information packet
Private mini-workshop on how to jumpstart your writing in 10 minutes a day
About eight weeks before the workshop, you'll receive an information packet with the final nuts-and-bolts details you need to enjoy the workshop, such as a packing list, emergency contact information, and detailed driving directions.
You'll also be invited to attend SURGE, a phone-based mini-workshop held exclusively for REWILD attendees. It will be recorded in case you can't make it live. There will be time on the call to introduce yourself and meet your fellow writers.
Day 1: Crossing the Water, Gathering by the Fire
Begin the workshop with a journey. Travel north along the shore of Lake Superior to the gateway town of Grand Marais, then head up the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway to meet the group at the parking area. Together, we'll cross the waters of West Bearskin Lake, symbolically leaving behind the demands and concerns of everyday life.
(Including politics. For the sake of everyone's emotional wellbeing, this weekend is a Trump-free zone.)
Take the afternoon to settle into your bunkhouse, dig into your Writing Field Kit—a goody bag of supplies and treats—and simply decompress, with towering pines and gossipy chickadees putting everything in perspective.
Evening brings us together for Introvert Happy Hour and a welcome dinner to get to know everyone and find out more about your nature writing assignment. After dinner there's a stretch of free time, followed by a campfire salon on motivation and confidence.
Day 1 culminates with a secret creative experience under the stars.
Day 2: Seeking the Falls & the Stories
Today you go on assignment. Rise early for coffee and The Silent Hour, a beautiful morning ritual that opens space for insights to emerge. A hearty breakfast fuels us for the day ahead. Learning starts with Terra Cognita, an al fresco seminar on the craft of nature writing. You'll get a jumpstart on your nature vignette here.
We then split into groups and venture out with expert guides for a waterfall adventure in the Boundary Waters. With field notebooks at hand, we journey by canoe over lake and land to a hidden waterfall, a lush little pocket of Eden where we swim and stand under the waterfall, have a picnic, practice observational techniques, do a mini field seminar on story structure, and bask in the beauty of summer in this fairytale forest—an ecological cousin to the tiger-haunted woods of Siberia.
Back at camp, enjoy free time to write, journal, paddle on your own, or catnap in the sunshine. Dinner will buzz with discussions of our adventures. Over dessert and tea, we'll have a rough-draft practicum, spending 30 focused minutes in directed writing to capture a deep draft of your nature story. Prepare to be amazed at how much progress you can make in half an hour with the right process and techniques.
After that, the evening is alive with choices. Will you follow the lanterns to the wood-fired lakeside sauna? Will you continue writing in the lodge? (I'll linger to answer questions.) Will you pause to listen to the otherworldly tremolo of loons calling in the dark? Earlier, under your dinner plate, you will have found a slip of paper with a curious creative dare—will you do it?
Day 3: Clarity & Possibility
If you wish, rise early to join a simple morning reflection ritual by the lake. Watch mist rise off the water, lifting the veil of the day. Then coffee. Breakfast, light and fresh. We're not done yet, not quite. There will be a revision practicum to refine your nature vignette. A quick break to pack (bittersweet) while I print your manuscripts. Now, the culmination of the weekend: The reading. Optional but highly encouraged.
This is your chance to be in the spotlight in a warm, supportive environment. Share your nature vignette and be applauded for your voice. Each individual reading will be recorded and provided to you in a private link, so you may choose to share it with friends and family.
Lunch marks our last meal together. We hold a brief closing ceremony, following a camp tradition. Each of us will share a rose (highlight), thorn (challenge or lesson), and bud (intention for the future). Then we gather our belongings and again cross the lake, back to our vehicles and the everyday world. But wait! There, on the far side of the lake, a gift will find its way into your hands, to be opened when you get home...
For now, we say farewell to each other and to this beautiful place. We depart energized and empowered by our newfound skills, connections, and possibilities.
After the Workshop
WEEK AFTER WORKSHOP: Recordings and blog posts available
The week after the workshop, you'll receive a private link to a video recording of your reading, which you may choose to make public and share with whomever you wish. Additionally, if you choose, your nature vignette will be published on the Wildhaus Studio blog, which—yes—counts as a publishing credit. You can share that link with family and friends, too.
MONTH AFTER WORKSHOP: Private creative strategy session
We'll gather by phone for a creative strategy session. This is an open forum for you and your fellow workshop attendees to get personalized support as you're back in your regular lives and heading into the holidays.
1-2 MONTHS AFTER WORKSHOP: Mini-workshop on your writing goals with Erika Sanders
After a month or two has passed, we'll convene by phone for a mini-workshop on writing goals, co-led by special guest Erika Sanders, a novelist and creative productivity strategist who works on a global program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We'll talk about the balance between dreaming big and being real; how do you set exciting goals without setting yourself up for frustration? You'll be guided through a simple process to create a strategic writing plan for the next 6 months. This workshop will set you up to have an productive, creatively fulfilling year.
Payment plan available—reserve your spot with a $97 down payment.
- All-inclusive weekend to immerse yourself in writing, make rapid progress, and hang out with fellow creative people
- Three private mini-workshops to prepare you for a fulfilling creative year
- Hands-on curriculum strategically designed to strengthen your writing skills
- Personal attention from a pro
- All meals, prepared by an in-house chef
- Rustic yet comfortable lodging at a historic summer camp on West Bearskin Lake
- Expert-guided Boundary Waters day trip, including permits and equipment
- Donation to scholarship fund that helps more kids spend time in nature
- Writing Field Kit with supplies and workshop notes you can reference in the future
- Three days of beautiful creative experiences in nature, including a wilderness picnic, night sauna, campfire salon, al fresco writing seminars, and swimming under a waterfall
Register now to experience REWILD
REWILD 2018 HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED.
2019 DATES AND TUITION TBA. PLEASE CHECK BACK SOON!
What if I'm traveling from out of state? Where do I fly into, what dates should I travel on, how do I get there... logistics help please!
Within 24 hours after you register for REWILD, I'll contact you by email to welcome you and learn more about you. If you are traveling from out of state, I will provide personalized travel guidance as needed.
Airport: Minneapolis (MSP) or Duluth (DLH)
Minneapolis has an abundance of artistic attractions, including the Guthrie Theatre and The Bakken, formerly the Bakken Library of Electricity in Life (!), a museum of science and technology housed in a historic Tudor Mansion. I grew up in Minneapolis. It's great.
Duluth, closer to the workshop location, was named "Best Town Ever" by Outside Magazine in 2014. I thoroughly agree. Duluth is a inland-coastal city on the north shore of Lake Superior and is a perfect place for people who love to experience a sense of place. Watch the waves, stroll the Lakewalk, explore the Maritime Musem and the sprawling lakeside grounds of historic, maybe-haunted Glensheen Mansion, and listen to signal horns echo across the water as ore boats pass beneath the Aerial Lift Bridge (skip to 2:00).
Travel dates: Fly in no later than the day before the workshop begins, fly out no sooner than the day after.
Hotel: If flying on the above dates, you'll need hotel or other accommodations from Thurs-Fri and Sun-Mon. I can provide unbiased recommendations for lodging, just let me know.
Travel to REWILD location: If you plan to rent a car and drive, you'll be provided detailed directions and travel tips as part of the pre-workshop information packet. I'm also happy to facilitate carpooling.
How much writing experience do I need in order to attend REWILD? How advanced do I need to be? There is no required skill level to attend REWILD--you only need to be interested in writing. The curriculum is structured to benefit writers of all levels with a blend of theory, strategy and technique. There will also be lots of chances for you to ask questions and pick my brain if you want to go deeper on something.
Will I have to read my writing out loud? No. I will lovingly encourage you to give a reading, though, because it is a rush to share your words (and very good practice, too) and this will be a very safe, supportive space where you can be assured of an enthusiastic audience response.
Will there be critiques? Nope. Not formal critiques, anyway. But if you have a question about craft, phrasing, etc, there will be ample opportunity for discussion.
Do I need outdoor/wilderness experience in order to attend REWILD? Nope.
How strenuous is the canoeing day trip? If you are moderately active in your regular life, you'll do just fine. You also have the option to skip the canoe trip and take more time to yourself for writing, sketching, hanging out by the lake, etc.
Are we camping? Do I have to sleep in a tent on the ground? No and no. You'll sleep in a recently built wood-clad bunkhouse with electricity and mattresses. It's not the Ritz-Carlton, but it's not the Shackleton expedition either.
How far is the location from the Twin Cities? It's a little over 2 hours from the Twin Cities to Duluth and 3 hours from Duluth to Menogyn, following the beautiful North Shore National Scenic Byway, aka Highway 61. It's a lovely mini-road trip. You'll pass Split Rock Lighthouse, Tettegouche State Park, Temperance State Park, Lutsen, Grand Marais... I recommend leaving early in the morning and making a leisurely day of it. Detailed directions and travel tips will be included in your info packet.
Is the location accessible/barrier-free? If you have mobility or other considerations, please contact me directly--I will want to check with Menogyn staff to ensure you will be comfortable. The rugged setting can pose challenges and your safety and comfort are my highest concerns. If REWILD isn't a good fit, please know that I will be offering other workshops in the future that are in barrier-free environments.
Are there real bathrooms? Yes :) There are real bathrooms and there is electricity. That said, this is a rustic environment. There's no wi-fi. If you are super-uncomfortable being in nature, this might not be the workshop for you.
HOLD ON. There's no wi-fi? Nope. I mean, okay, it's possible a stray bar or two will waft by occasionally. But do not count on having reception.
But what if there's an emergency and my family needs to get ahold of me? There's a land line with an emergency contact number staffed 24/7. You'll be provided that number in a pre-workshop info packet.
Can I bring my family? What's the minimum age? The minimum age to attend REWILD is 18. In the future, I'll look at opening it up to advanced teenagers, or potentially adding a session specifically for teens, but for this first year we're sticking to adults.
Can I bring my dog / cat / squirrel / well-trained orangutan, Percy? For the sake of the wildlife as well as other workshop attendees who may have allergies or phobias, no pets may be brought to the workshop.
But Percy is better-behaved than most human toddlers! Can you make an exception? I'm afraid not. Orangutans kind of freak me out, sorry.
How much fun are you having writing this FAQ? I think you know the answer to that question.
I have another question that isn't answered here. Email me. I'll get back to you within 24 hours.
"Don't let them tame you."