An online course for writers ready to finish their novel without losing steam, hating life, or giving up.
Earlier this year, I got stuck. I couldn’t write. I had deadlines—usually a great motivator—but I was still wasting time tweeting dumb observations about Wikipedia articles instead of putting stuff on the page. I told myself that I’d be way more productive and jazzed about writing if I could just get six weeks off to really focus—you know, as is totally possible when you work full time and have a life and occasionally indulge in six-hour Property Brothers marathons.
But writing is just too dang important for me to shrug off and let fade. So I decided that I was going to create my own retreat, an at-home studio that would inspire me and get my writerly butt in gear without me having to leave my living room (or change out of my sweatshirt). I found new points of entry into the stories I was working on, planned some projects for the future I was genuinely excited about, and even uncovered the creative mission I wanted to follow for the rest of my career. (I also wrote, like, a ton of words. Not too shabby.)
If you’re an ambitious writer who just wants to get the dang book finished, or if you want a stronger, more enticing vision for the projects you want to write in the future, or if you want to really understand why your work matters, Writing Retreat in a Box is for you! You’ll learn how to write more, better, and more fulfilling work; how to put your writing time to good use—whether it’s 10 minutes or 10 hours; how to uncover what truly moves and inspires you, and connect it to everything you write; and even how to stab a sword into the black heart of anxiety and imposter syndrome.
Music by Scott Holmes
So what makes Writing Retreat in a Box so exciting? Lots!
- It’s perfect for writers at any career stage, from unpublished to multi-published. We got everything!
- It’s self-paced, so you can go at your own speed, and take as many snack breaks as you need.
- No genre discrimination! WRiaB is here for writers of all types of fiction, from YA sci-fi to literary epics.
- It’s modular and flexible. You can complete lessons in any order you like, and choose the form (video or mp3) that best suits your learning style.
- It’s not demanding or prescriptive. There’s no “write 10 squillion words a day by following this strict formula” kind of nonsense.
- It’s got guaranteed admission—no snobby committees or literary juries here. Come as you are!
- It’s affordable, costing less than just the application fees for many writers’ residencies and much less than a trip away from home for a conference or retreat.
- If you select the optional 20-minute career consultation, it’s a great opportunity to get an expert opinion on your query, your publishing path, or your professional options
The WRiaB (okay, not the catchiest acronym) Program
The program is made up of nine sessions, each on a key craft or writing lifestyle topic. Each session discussion comes as a video and mp3, so you can watch at your own pace on your computer or listen on the go, and includes as notes, guided journal pages, and worksheets, tailored to each topic as PDFs.
An overview of the writing life, why taking the time to examine the way you work and the projects you’ve worked on can help you, and how to get started on the program:
- What we’re going to do, learn, and talk about
- How to proceed in the course (hint: it’s extremely flexible!!)
- How to use the workbook
2. Defining Your Author Identity + Creative Mission
How to get at what makes you tick as a writer, articulate your motivation as an artist, brainstorm everywhere your work could take you, and distill into a clear mission for you to follow with everything you write:
- What is author identity and creative mission, and why does it matter?
- Discovering the themes, motifs, and influences on your work
- Pinpointing ~emotions~ and connecting with your readership
- Finding where you are now and plotting where you’ll go in the future
3. Finding Your Writing Routine
How to write regularly, whether that’s every day, every week, or every month, by figuring out your own style, working with the time you have, and using science (!) to be motivated and efficient:
- Which routine advice is worth taking?
- How to create lasting writing habits that get you working
- The flow state and how to enter it quickly
- Eliminating distractions and making use of your time
- Tracking your progress
4. Beginning Your Novel
How to get over the fear of the blank page (it’s very real), get over perfectionism about “getting work done,” and stop planning and start writing:
- How to go from idea to novel
- Developing character, situation, form, and genre
- To outline or not to outline?
- Where should you start?
5. The Middle of Your Novel: Unsticking and Keeping the Pace
How to unstick yourself from plot problems, light a fire under you to keep writing, revise your book into something meaningful and coherent, and figure out exactly what your project is trying—and needs!—to be:
- Three common middle-of-book writing problems and how to get past them
- Exercises for when you’re blocked or stuck on plot
- Making up titles for inspiration
6. Getting to the End and Starting Revision
How to wrap up what you’ve started, harness some ending momentum, and figure out a battle plan for the Great Revision:
- How to write your own edit letter
- How to line-edit without going nuts
- How to understand the theme and big picture of your book
7. Using Your Writing Community
How to find your people, create meaningful work together, learn from each other, and use your fellow writers to boost—not destroy—your confidence and enthusiasm:
- How to find other like-minded writers
- How to use your friends for motivation and accountability
- Creating a sense of belonging among your fellow writers without feeling imposter-y
8. The Future! Your Next Book and Your Writing Career
How to map out your career and creative goals, figure out pacing, and break everything down into small, achievable steps:
- Mapping a plan for your career in weeks, months, and years ahead
- Storing future ideas to revisit without forgetting
- Professional goals, craft goals, project goals, and lifestyle goals
9. Bringing It All Together
Final thoughts and tips for going forward into the world as a writer, how to be of good courage, and how to take what you’ve learned with you:
- Why does this stuff even matter?
- Why is it worth making a priority?
- Why do YOU deserve to be a writer? (Hint: you already are)
- How can you stay sane and productive when criticism and self-doubt creeps in?
And cool bonus stuff!
- A collection of writing prompts for any time you feel stuck
- A mega-list of time-saving apps, websites, and software to help you focus
- First dibs on live chats and webinars on drafting, revising, and the writing life
- Optional 20-minute career consultation phone call to discuss querying, revisions, long-term planning, or any other aspect of writing
I’m Blair Thornburgh, YA and children’s author. My first book, Who’s That Girl, comes out in July from HarperTeen, with a few more secret projects (!) on the way, too. I’ve just completed my work for my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University, where I’ve learned a lot about creating a professional, consistent writing routine, using exercises to further my work, and going deep on what my writing means. I’m a big believer in writing for writing’s sake, without looking over your shoulder at what other folks are doing (or what the industry is telling you is hot!)
What writers are saying
“Blair brings industry, academic, and practical experience to her lessons. She knows what she’s talking about, and plus, her videos are super funny! She’s super encouraging and wants to do everything she can so that YOU, yes you, can write the book! Her advice is practical and easy to follow, which is great for beginning and experienced writers alike. (In her lesson on starting the book, she gave worldbuilding advice, which I’ve found useful on a work in progress!) If nothing else, get this course for the cheerleader that is Blair throughout the modules, because she really makes you feel like you can do this thing. I love these lessons and take everything Blair says to heart!”
—Naseem Jamnia, journalist and novelist
“Not only is Blair an incredible writer and teacher, she also manages to create an extraordinary amount of content while holding down a full time job. I can think of no one more qualified to teach this course!”
—Aimee Lucido, Young Adult, Middle Grade, and picture book author
Writing Retreat in a Box is inspiring, insightful, and focused. I was planning on taking notes while I watched the videos, but Blair’s advice had me pulling out my notebook and writing. In about fifteen minutes I had a concept for my sequel after struggling with it for weeks. This course is an excellent place to start for new writers, and a great crystallization for established writers. Everyone can take their writing process and their writing itself to the next level with Writing Retreat in a Box.
—Kate Brauning, YA author and editor at Entangled Publishing
Blair’s videos are so insightful they’re almost addictive—from what sets you apart as an author to revision techniques, she’ll not only help you level up your craft but also give you useful tips to sculpt your daily habits to accommodate a more productive creative lifestyle. Writing Retreat in a Box truly lives up to its name: it’s like talking shop with your industry insider writer pal over a fun weekend, and it’ll leave you feeling prepared and inspired to tackle that giant project you’ve been dreaming of.
—Alex Yuschik, YA author
Wait, so…what exactly is this?
It’s an online course about craft, finding inspiration, and keeping motivation high for writers, taught by me, Blair!
How much does it cost?
The nine course videos + mp3s, workbook, and bonus material are available for $149. All that material PLUS a 20-minute career consultation by phone is $189.
Okay, I can dig it. How do I enroll?
Follow the link at the bottom of the page to sign up. Once you’ve enrolled, you’ll get the course materials delivered through Gumroad, a nifty indie platform for content delivery.
When will I get my material?
As soon as your payment is processed! Gumroad will provide the videos, mp3s, and PDFs as a download.
How do I watch the videos/listen to the mp3s?
The videos can be watched in any standard media player, such as Windows Media Player or Quicktime. (I also recommend VLC.) The mp3s can be imported directly to your phone or device, or played from your computer. You can also use the Gumroad app to watch and listen right on your phone!
How do I schedule my phone consultation?
If you’ve opted for the phone consultation, you’ll receive an email with instructions for setting up a time for the call after you purchase. It’ll happen on your schedule (meaning evenings and weekends are in!), so don’t worry about timing!
What if I’m not satisfied with Writing Retreat in a Box?
I definitely don’t want anyone to be unhappy with the program! If it’s not for you, you can unenroll for a full refund within 15 days of signing up.
Does this come with an actual box?
Tragically, no. The box is but a metaphor.
Got a question you don’t see above? Email me!
Ready to dive in? Come sit on the ol’ window seat with me and let’s get writing.
I know it’s easy not to feel like a “real writer,” or that whatever you’ve written is the last good idea you’ll ever have and that’s it, dunzo, your writing career is over. (Is that just me? I feel that way all the time.) Doing retreats like this have helped me so much when it comes to shutting down jealousy and comparison (even comparison to my own work!) and just getting back to writing like I love it more than life itself (even when I don’t have time). You’re already a real writer—you just need to give your writing the focus and commitment it needs to rock. Want to figure out more? Download a free worksheet to help you define your identity as a writer and hone your creative mission.