May 16-19, 2019


A Yogini Teaches Creative Writing

with Dawn Raffel


Take a deep breath and join us for a weekend of creative writing craft sessions, one-on-one coaching, and small group discussion, plus morning meditation, yoga breathwork,  and sunset walks on the beach.



Dawn Raffel is a Columbia creative writing professor, founding editor of O, The Oprah Magazine and critically acclaimed author of The Strange Case of Dr. Couney and The Secret Life of Objects. Her short stories, essays and articles have appeared in national magazines, literary quarterlies, and collections. Her stellar career as a fiction editor includes senior and at large editorial positions at O, the Oprah Magazine, Readers Digest, More, and the Center for Fiction. She's taught in Columbia University's MFA program, and at summer seminars in Russia and Lithuania. In the midst of writing her fifth book, Dawn earned her certification as a Bhakti yoga instructor. 

"I was in a class full of beautiful 20 and 30-something yoginis," says Dawn, "and I'm kind of a klutz. But I wanted to integrate yoga with creative writing in a way I haven't seen before. Not just do some yoga and barf your thoughts into a journal; I'm talking about integrating yoga philosophy into a writing practice that is precise, sustainable, embodied, meaningful, challenging, and ultimately joyful."

Joni Rodgers is the cofounder of Westport Lighthouse Writers Retreat. She's the bestselling author of Bald in the Land of Big Hair, The Hurricane Love and Sugarland. As a ghostwriter, story consultant, and developmental editor, she's collaborated on 16 NYT bestsellers and an Oscar nominated screenplay. 

We limit every group to six writers so we can spend more one-on-one time and make the most of small group discussions. Dawn and Joni will each read and critique 10 pages in advance of your one-on-one sessions, and we'll gather Saturday evening to share short pieces you've created over the weekend.


  • Beginnings (defining the most potent point of entry)

  • Getting to the Truth (in fiction and nonfiction)

  • Sustainable Writing (as a living or a way of life)

  • 7 Secret Weapons to Transform Your Writing Life

  • Q&A Open House

  • Morning yoga, breath work, and guided meditation with Dawn

  • Sunset walk-and-talk with Joni


  • A full weekend of creative writing workshops

  • Submit pages in advance for two one-on-one coaching/critique sessions

  • Beach condo lodging with private room and bathroom

  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options

  • Free time to write, read, and enjoy the beach

  • Extras including a 10% discount on editorial services from Dawn Raffel and alumni discount of 15% on all future WLWR events

  • Welcome swag including books, locally sourced treats, sweet new yoga mat, and more



The beginning of a work contains its DNA—voice, tone, pace, and authority. It must also signify what is at stake. It’s the place where you make an unspoken contract with your reader, and it’s here that the “gatekeepers”—agents, editors, admissions committees, prize committees, and most importantly readers themselves—will decide whether to engage with the work, or not. It’s a matter of precision (of both language and thought) and of “putting your pencil in the right place.” We will look at specific examples in an interactive way and consider techniques used by fiction and nonfiction writers we love. In this age of information overload, presence on the page is more important than ever. At the end of this session, Dawn will give you a brief writing assignment to bring to our final meeting.


Getting to the Truth

As writers of fiction, nonfiction, or some combination, our task is to get to the truth—but how? Information can be elusive, and memory is stretchy and subjective. Our eyes fall on different things, and we tend to see what we are conditioned to look for in the first place. What comes first? What gets left out? How is the narrative framed? What is our responsibility as tellers of truth? During this session, we’ll do some exercises to help us acknowledge the subjectivity inherent in all truth-telling; look at ways to unpeel a deeper truth; and discuss strategies for dealing with our fear of truth (which underlies a great deal of what we commonly call writer’s block).


Sustainable Writing

Failure is an inevitable component of any creative career. As literary artists at any stage, we can’t grow without taking risks. The marketplace can be harsh, and comparison is truly the thief of happiness. We’ll explore some strategies for nurturing creativity and staying in the game for the long haul.


7 Secret Weapons to Transform Your Writing Life

Joni will share her favorite creative and technical tricks of the trade, developed over 20+ books and two decades in the publishing industry. As a ghostwriter, Joni’s brand is a top quality manuscript delivered on deadline. How does she consistently turn out bestsellers on the tight schedule of a ghostwriter? You’re about to find out.


Is it the right retreat for me? 

This retreat is appropriate for writers of all levels and genres: word-seekers, working writers, and seasoned authors. Our goal is to give you new tools for exploring and elevating your skills, no matter where you're starting from. The yoga component will focus on breathwork and guided meditation. This is about clearing the mind, tapping into embodied writing, and getting into a deeper truth, not Instagrammable poses. We encourage you to take this opportunity for self-care, work where you're comfortable, and make the experience your own.

Will you edit my work?

Yes! Participants are welcome to send Joni and Dawn 10 double-spaced pages in advance of the retreat so we can discuss developmental and line edits during one-on-one office hours. 

Where will I stay?

We work exclusively with Vacations by the Sea to provide the luxury condo accommodations included in your retreat tuition. Each visiting writer will have her own private room and private bathroom. Condos feature flexible work spaces, ocean view balconies, fully outfitted kitchens, and other amenities.


Should I bring a yoga mat?

We'll provide a fresh new mat in your welcome swag. You're welcome to take it home as a gift. :)

Got anything to eat?

We're all about options. Be our guest for family-style meals, visit one of the walkable local eateries, or cook for yourself in your fully equipped kitchen. We end each day with a sunset stroll followed by Dimming of the Day, dessert and port or chamomile at Joni and Gary's. The kitchen vibe for this retreat is delicious, healthy, and low/no gluten.

What's this I hear about a swag bag?

We always welcome our visiting writers with a handmade tote stuffed with books by guest faculty, locally sourced treats, and pleasant surprises.

How much does it cost?

Early bird registration is $1695. Regular registration (after March 10, 2019) is $1895.


Are scholarships available?

No full scholarships are available for this event, but we will offer a limited number of partial scholarships. Contact us to apply. 

Is there really a lighthouse or is that just a metaphor?

Oh, it's real. Grays Harbor Light, the tallest lighthouse in WA is a three-minute walk from Joni and Gary's. Climb to the top (139 steps) for a stunning view of the state park and Pacific Ocean. 

What you seek is seeking you.



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ZEN & INK: A Yogini Teaches Creative Writing

with Dawn Raffel

View daily schedule


Thursday through Sunday

May 16-19, 2019


Westport Lighthouse Writers Retreat is located on the Pacific Coast in Washington State, adjacent to Westport Light State Park.


Dawn Raffel, author/editor and certified yoga instructor

Joni Rodgers, NYT bestselling author/ghostwriter


Lodging and most meals are included in retreat tuition. Visiting writers will stay at Westport by the Sea, a luxury condo resort on the beach adjacent to the state park.

More about that here  


$1895 includes lodging, most meals, and many extras

WLWR retreat alumni receive a 15% discount on all services.


This retreat is limited to a maximum of six writers. CONTACT US for info on scholarships and wait list.


© 2017 JONI RODGERS All rights reserved. Design by FUdog Book Bling ~ Photography by Gary Rodgers