We are convinced that writing is a path to the creative genius in all of us. Whether you call yourself a writer or not, we know the transformational power of putting yourself in a nurturing environment with permission to notice what you notice and then write about it. Wide Open Writing offers residential retreats, online classes, individual coaching, weekend workshops and private writing getaways.
We take time to get to know you and your needs and together we develop a pathway toward your goals. We create a safe space, whether virtual or actual, inviting you to be present with whatever emerges. Whether it’s an obstacle or a beautiful flow we work with you to be present with what shows up for you, embracing uncertainty and engaging the inner critic.
What you experience with Wide Open Writing
GROWTH AS A WRITER
MOVING FORWARD with curiosity
HAving fun WITH KINDRED SPIRITS
DEEPENING YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF YOURSELF
Simply put, making art is chancy -- it doesn't mix well with predictability. Uncertainty is the essential, inevitable and all-pervasive companion to your desire to make art. And tolerance for uncertainty is the prerequisite to succeeding. -- "Art & Fear, Observations on the Rewards (and Perils) of Artmaking" by David Bayles and Ted Orland
We believe that getting away and connecting to nature and ourselves is central to the creative process. In this place of respite we find our deeper truths.
We purposely choose evocative settings where your adventurous spirit can come out to play with curiosity and wonder. Whether it's desert or mountains, tropics or tundra there's always something sparkly to be discovered.
Because writing comes from our bodies, it's important to foster the connection between body and place, spirit and physical presence. Our retreats always include energy and body work such as massage, yoga and Reiki.
For more information about this year's retreats visit our Retreats 2016 page.
"Anybody who travels knows that you're not really doing so in order to move around but in order to be moved. Really what you're seeing is not just the Grand Canyon or The Great Wall but some moods or intimations or places inside yourself that you never ordinarily see when you're sleepwalking through your daily life."
Our online courses are designed to guide you further into the writer that you already are. Each class centers around a theme with various prompts that inspire new work. You will be more aware of who you are as a creative writer and set a framework which helps you center, strengthen and stay connected to your writing practice.
While writing is ultimately a solitary endeavor, the process is one that requires trusted support and encouragement. Whether you want feedback for a project, further commitment to your craft or to simply begin writing, one on one work can be extremely effective. By spending time together either in person or via the web we get to know your needs and then together we sculpt a plan to achieve your goals. We use writing prompts and exercises to stimulate the flow of words and then provide written feedback to help you identify the energy of your work and further develop your strengths. The result is both deeper satisfaction with your writing and a desire to write more.
If you fancy getting away and working remotely from a specific location, we also organize tailored private writing retreats.
Dulcie's Writing Group in Topsham, Maine
Starting March 9th, 2016 Dulcie Witman will currently be hosting a bi-weekly writing group in Topsham, Maine from 6:30 - 8:30pm. Cost is $30-40 per session, a sliding scale of sorts. Coffee, tea and writing chocolate and prompts provided.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in joining.
Virtual Writing Groups
For those of you who don't live in Maine but would still like to be part of a writing group, write to us. Tell us a little bit about yourself, like what you're working on and where in the world you're located. Let us know what you're interested in and how you feel you might benefit from a virtual writing group.
As a Creative Community
We are exuberant, spiritual, playful, raucous, serious, centered, intense, brave, feral, explorers. We are creative, compassionate, introverts and extroverts, truth-seekers and truth-sayers, badasses with good taste. We're moody, needy, high-maintenance noise-makers; nature and animal lovers, tree-huggers, cooks, painters, gardeners, singer-songwriters, dancers, Reiki masters, body workers, therapists and world travelers. We are mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sons that used to be daughters, sisters, sexpots, crackpots and former addicts. We meditate, we write and we're not even all writers.
We're also so much more which is why we invite you to join us. You'll belong.
As Facilitators and Teachers
Dulcie Witman, MFA, LADC
Co-Founder, Facilitator & writer
Dulcie's a truth-teller even if or especially when she's writing fiction. She cuts through straight to the point and to the heart of whatever she's saying. Witty, heartbreaking, searingly true, Dulcie's flare is as unique as she is -- read her and you'll scratch an itch you might not know you had. Get to know her and be prepared to crave her forevermore.
What’s important to me as a person is what’s important to me as an artist. I need to be true to myself and I need to make a contribution to others. Connecting to other people and connecting to what’s around me is how I feel what is true and how I make sense of who I am. Sharing creative space gives power and life to that connection. That’s what the creative process is -- it gives life to something that wasn’t there before. So more than anything, I live for moments of connection and creation, whether that’s to another person or to a sense of purpose or to the natural world in which I yearn to know my place.
Regina Tingle, MFA
co-founder, facilitator & writer
Regina writes like Frieda Kahlo paints, florid in her strokes. You have been taken somewhere when you get in Regina's car. She's both complex in terms of what she attempts and yet she speaks in a language that is everyone's language so that even if you haven't had the particular experience Regina has had you can imagine having it.
Mostly I don’t think of myself as an artist. What I know is that I’m captured by making meaning of the big and the little things that happen in our lives whether it’s the fleeting synchronistic moments that would otherwise be forgotten if not recorded or the catastrophic traumas that set us reeling and lead us down other pathways. I believe it’s in the making of the meaning that pulls me back time and time again to pen and page. I believe that when I have an urge to write, it's because there's a need for whatever that is to be heard. It's the disembodied connection that happens between the creator and her audience that compels me most. It’s magic to be able to share from this deep place in order that it might have value for others to use and keep in whatever way serves them.
Nancy Coleman, PhD
yoga facilitator & writer
Nancy is a connecting presence between the heavens and the earth. Being in her yoga class is not unlike listening to her read something she just wrote, it comes alive with the ingredients of ocean and wind and hard scrabble earth, and yet so connected to what it is to be a human, in a body, right here, right now. We are as likely to have tears doing child's pose in her class as we are listening to her read her work.
I practice yoga. The body stretches toward its fullest expression. The yoke of body and soul, the body feeling its way to what is whole, what is holy. I practice psychotherapy. I stand on the bridge and hold a light for others to cross. It is, for each, their own light, I am mirror and fellow traveler. Sometimes I see in the dark. I write toward something I do not recognize until I arrive. Every word matters, and yet the word is not the path. I follow phosphorescence and prayer. Nothing matters more.
Nikki Kallio, MFA
Troi Boulanger, LCSW
Jo McAllister, LMT
Dulcie Witman, MFA, LADC
Dulcie Witman started writing young; self-illustrated poems about snow monkeys and Memorial Day and dead people. Poetry eventually gave way to journaling and journaling gave way to becoming a therapist. Dulcie got her BA in Psychology from The College of William and Mary and trained in counseling at The Caron Foundation and Mercy Hospital Recovery Center. She has been in private practice in the state of Maine for the past twenty-five years.
Many years later, the snow monkey and the dead people came back to haunt her. She earned her MFA from Goddard College in Creative Writing and certification as a Gateless Writing Teacher. Her teachers have been many - Natalie Goldberg, Julia Cameron, Grace Paley, Monica Woods, Darrah Cloud, Aimee Liu, Bea Gates, Joan Hunter, Suzanne Kingsbury and more – some of whom she worked with directly and others she soaked up through their writing. She carries them all with her in gratitude and admiration.
Dulcie writes fiction and non-fiction and has been known to have an online advice column. Dulcie is a founding editor of Minerva Rising and has had pieces published in The Pitkin Review and Rawboned. She completed a novel, Crooked Love, and is currently working on a professional memoir, Confessions of a Therapist.
Regina Tingle, MFA
JoAnn McAllister, LMT
Troi Boulanger, LCSW
Nikki Kallio*, MFA
Nancy Coleman, PhD
Regina’s memory has a strange retention factor; she can’t remember jokes, the rules of card games or whether or not the napkin goes on the left or the right with the fork or the knife. But that hasn’t stopped her. Much to her family’s dismay, she sets the table anyway. And, she writes memoir.
At eighteen, her curiosity and love of language took her to Spain and beyond. After earning her Bachelors of Science in Journalism from the University of North Texas, she immediately moved to Italy where she spent her twenties. In Italy she fell into her career in international higher education where she's since spent the last fifteen years of planning, facilitating and leading groups on journeys all over the world.
While receiving her Master’s in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Goddard College, Regina studied under the tutelage of poets Elena Georgiou and Beatrix Gates as well as memoirist and novelist Aimee Liu. She is also a 2014 scholarship recipient of Gateless Writing Teacher Training founded by critically-acclaimed author, Suzanne Kingsbury. Regina's favourites include Rebecca Solnit, Nick Flynn, Mary Karr, David Sedaris, Tracey Emin, Maria Popova, the teachings of Baron Baptiste and Julia Cameron. Her favorite podcast is “On Being” with Krista Tippett. Currently, she lives in London.
May your heart be filled with loving kindness.
May you be well in body and mind.
This is the beginning of a prayer of loving kindness I silently invoke over every person I meet through massage. I see the body as a landscape, each an environment inhabited by an exquisitely defined individual consciousness; and my work as a sacred invitation to enter your landscape, to act as a fellow sojourner and guide on the journey. Together we discover and make our way through blocks and barriers toward ease and comfort, freeing the flow of creative energy in the process.
Technicalities: I trained at The Swedish Institute and sat for the New York State Boards in 1990. Soon after certification I lived and worked at Omega Institute for three years. While at Omega I met and studied with a wide range of practitioners and healers from all over the world. I now practice in my home office by the river in Topsham, Maine.
I've been in the social work field for over twenty-five years and graduated from New Mexico State University in 1997 with my Master's degree. It was there that I was introduced to holistic health practices by Professor Jerry Vest. Professor Vest developed the 15 Minute Stressout Program, which I helped introduce into the elder community and he continues to offer to returning soldiers and their families. Since that time, I've continued my own development and so my work with others has evolved as well. In my practice I utilize Energy Psychology, Psychotherapeutic Reiki, and mindfulness as well as more traditional "talk therapy." In my experience, combining these approaches helps people connect to themselves in a deep way. This way of connecting allows us an awareness of our truths, our unique gifts, as well as obstacles that can thwart our efforts to bring forward or develop these gifts. Energy work is especially helpful in moving through any barriers to live and express your highest potential. I believe we all have purpose and talent to share and have made a lifelong commitment to supporting this development in each of us!
When recently asked for my "artist statement," being a non-writer and non-artist, I went into panic. My mind diverted to what I should use as my dating profile caption, Flawfully Designed. Why I decided to use it here (and not there) is because it fits into how I see us as human beings and this understanding can lead to our growth and potential. Writing is one of many ways to open and express our creative process. Where our pain and desire and fear and shame and vulnerability and love and anger and bliss can come through. Energy work is my way of making space for all that arises within us: To explore, to release, to heal and put it all back together with greater insight and deep compassion. I love being part of these retreats where the opening is happening and I have the honor of adding my bit of magic to ease you on your journey. I hope to see you there!
I adore maps, atlases and globes – for me, they represent mystery, adventure and discovery, which means writing and travel are natural companions. My passion is building authentic stories, whether they’re set in a backyard or outer space. Fantastical elements remove us from “reality” while dropping us squarely in the center of common human dilemmas. I’m fascinated by idea generation. I was never a Prom Queen but have been called a "Prompt Queen." I adore the conjuring process, watching magic happen from just a few simple words or phrases, being enchanted by the beauty in the different ways stories manifest themselves.
*Nikki's creative work has appeared in several lit journals including Minerva Rising and Midwestern Gothic. She is the winner of the 2014 Mill Prize for Fiction and the 2015 Wisconsin People and Ideas fiction prize from the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters.
Nancy’s first writing was plagiary. She wrote what she liked, and it often happened to be a fairy tale about an orphan girl or a lost princess; it also often happened to be something someone else had already written.
And then there was life. Her grandfather died, her boyfriend left, she discovered poetry, in her own small voice; and eventually that voice wanted to say more, and still more. Today she is a writer of songs, poetry, essays, creative non-fiction, and now with a full-length fiction manuscript, Everything I Want, in consideration for publication. She’s had pieces published in The Sun, Minerva Rising, and in the compilation, Maine Voices. She’s attended conferences, workshops and retreats with some wonderful writers, read the books and soaked in the words of many others, and studied in depth with Joan Lee Hunter and Suzanne Kingsbury.
Nancy has been a practicing psychologist and psychotherapist for over thirty years (Ph.D, Columbia University, 1983), and she continues to study, practice, and teach at the growing edges of the field, particularly what Maslow called the “further reaches of human nature”. She’s studied mindfulness, body-mind integrative practices such as Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing, healing in trauma and recovery, bioenergetics, and EMDR. She’s fascinated by how new discoveries in the science of psychology weave together with ancient Eastern wisdom to inform our journeys to health.
From her yoga practice of over twenty years and upwards of 5000 hours of practice, she felt called to take the training to become a teacher, with the intention of deepening her understanding, integrating all these wisdom paths, and sharing the powerful ancient teachings, as we embody them in the present moment.
Dulcie’s so real and so raw that her workshops can’t help cracking open places you thought were out of reach. --Sylvie Kurtz
Regina inspires me to go further into my writing than I would otherwise. Her presence is skillful and insightful. Her relaxed approach to facilitating helps me be more of myself in my writing after sitting with her. Her workshops rock!—Minton Sparks, spoken word artist, singer, songwriter and teacher of writing and performing arts from Nashville, Tennessee.
I'm reluctant to share what a life-changing experience my week at Wide Open Writing was because you'll want to come, and another person, and another until it's too big and my spot is taken, or the spot of one of my new best friends I made in Tuscany. Yes, I'm greedy with my love for this retreat, these women, and Italy. But I'm also sympathetic to the lonely job of writing and the lack of support and validation out there for what we do. The week of writing and reading our work cracked open that firewall we tend to put between our words and the outside world. Voices sang to the Tuscan sky from writers from around the world. Separate when we arrived, connected by a thread of love when we left, Wide Open Writing formed the circle we all felt safe to share in, thanks in large part to the wonderful facilitators and the beautiful setting. I came to the retreat expecting a similar experience I've had at other writing retreats, the classic workshop style of sharing work and critiquing, but this retreat allowed participants to open up their imaginations to new work, new ideas, all with the support of other writers urging you on. It was dream-like. It was special. I'll be back. --Robin Gaines, fiction writer and author of "Invincible Summers"
“I got a group experience that I craved, with fabulous women, some of whom I know and love very much, and others that I wanted to meet very much.” --Curry Ander, South Freeport, Maine
Want to wake up that gypsy soul savant? Crash through those creative barriers? Escape on retreat to some far flung beautiful place? Change your life? Regina Tingle is your girl. An edifying editor with strong connections and creative grace, Regina is a sassy, fun workshop leader who knows how to cry and laugh as you hit that bedrock of your own truth. Being with Regina is about strength, beauty, creativity and dream weaving. Walk alongside Regina? And anything is possible: deep, abiding love; that next book you want to write; the 4.5 million house on the beach. She holds it all with her wide smile, her breadth of experience and her depth.
—Suzanne Kingsbury, critically-acclaimed novelist and founder of Gateless Gate Writing. Currently, she resides in Brattleboro, Vermont
I can’t express the depth of my gratitude to you for providing such a safe and stimulating place for me to finally believe I am a writer. The charisma, energy and positive atmosphere… Amazing leadership, the combination of wonderful participants have made me proud to say for the first time in my life I am a writer here now and always. This is part of the unblocking that came from the trip, and during the workshops, a lovely combination of everything you offered to us. It’s like you know what’s important to you, but it gets buried under a daily barrage of nonsensical stress and doubt and other people’s “reality.” I’m owning my own reality. --Anonymous
Dulcie brings both firm ground and the possibility to reach the moon to her teaching. She penetrates the surface and plumbs the depth until you’re not sure what hit you, but you know she got you. She is a warrior for the written word and the hungry heart. --Jodi Paloni
Regina knocks you out with a radiant beauty that is way more than skin deep. Her vibe is friendly and laid back but her writing is down right fierce. Both a warrior and a goddess, a sentinel and a sage – this girl can anchor down and hold a safe place for your deepest truths and if flights of fancy are your thing, she can help you to fly! Regina’s an enthusiastic gypsy, a wise world traveler and an accomplished dream maker whose warm, vibrant smile is like a bright beacon welcoming you back home – to yourself and the stories that have gathered in the temples of your sweet, vulnerable heart. – Karen Kenney
Want to crack it wide open? Laugh your ass off? Feel truly seen for the first time in your life? Dulcie Witman is the key to all those portals. Sage soul with a twist of the wild child, Dulcie has the powerhouse ability to help you understand yourself in a brand new way. We do all sorts of things to find the truth we are so desperately seeking: twist ourselves like pretzels on our yoga mats, walk on hot coals and read a thousand books, but there’s one thing that really works: step into a class/retreat/one-on-one with Dulcie Witman and find how beautiful that truth that’s been knocking can really look.-Suzanne Kingsbury, Brattleboro, Vermont, critically-acclaimed novelist and founder of Gateless Gate Writing.