Recently, the Writers’ Program hosted its third annual Writing Retreat at Lake Arrowhead. This week of dedicated writing time in a beautiful mountain setting saw returning students and newcomers become part of the largest group we’ve had to date. Each student brought with them a project in which they were determined to make considerable progress. The schedule, left largely unstructured to facilitate each student’s personal creativity, offered some opportunities to connect in an afternoon “craft talk,” where students could discuss writing questions and issues together, and an evening open mic, dubbed “The Speakeasy,” where they shared their in-progress work.

Program Director Charles Jensen says of the week, “My favorite part about the retreat is watching the change in people from the first day to the last. Some folks get to the retreat and they’re nervous and unsure of themselves, but by the end of it, they feel confident calling themselves “a writer.” And they realize there’s a community of writers around them who are full of support and enthusiasm for their work. It’s such a critical realization for every writer to experience.”

Student feedback for the experience was very positive, with some highlighted remarks below:

“Having space away from “normal” life was extremely valuable. It allowed me the time and mental space to focus solely on my writing.”

“I finished my novel. I went up at about 38,000 words and came down at 72,000. I reached my goal. I am astounded, and sated, and so grateful for this retreat, to Charlie and Carrie, and the staff at the Conference Center.”

“The whole experience was organized so well, with plenty of time to write, plenty of time to gather together, and beautiful spaces indoors and out to relax, think, concentrate, exercise, and EAT! No retreat I’ve ever been to matches the experience of the UCLA Extension Writing Retreat at Lake Arrowhead.”

In addition to our Program Director, another staff member also attends to assist with facilitating and organizing the week. This year our Creative Writing Program Representative Carrie attended and says of the experience, “I loved how the writing retreat gave us an opportunity to truly dive into our work in the midst of a beautiful setting filled with inspiration, unfettered by the clutter of day-to-day life and responsibility, where our only devotion was to the work itself and the task at hand.”

We’re already planning for next year, slated for September 13-18, 2020. For more information on the Writing Retreat, visit

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