What They Said About Their Workshop Experiences



A Women’s Reflective Writing Retreat
Siena Retreat Center, Racine, WI
February 2018
Mary Kay Shanley & Diane Douiyssi


Thirty women gathered for four days in February on the shores of Lake Michigan to discover, discuss, then experience the gift of reflective writing. With this approach, you don’t seek what’s in your mind, but rather what’s within you but is not apparent to you. When you begin, you don’t know what you’re going to write about. So first you reflect, then write, based on what emerges from that reflection. This approach reveals what you’re writing about and where you’re going with your writing. Writing reflectively becomes a journey that takes you to that place where your spiritual self, your soul, the essence of who you are resides.


Participant Comments


Wow! This technique is new to me, and I think it will be a helpful tool in my life
The progress of techniques from internal to outward expression of self was most helpful
the days were arduous, but worth it; I wouldn’t want it any other way
much more than I ever expected
I’m glad for the stretch these days have been. For being totally inexperienced, some great words came out of me
the most important thing I learned was that to create an inner dialogue, one needs first to wait (and wait and wait)
it takes me a bit of blather to get to the real story, the real emotion
the teaching, the tools, the sharing with others, and the clear essence of spirit shown through our writing and conversations
as the presentations built from one to the next, I felt the importance of reflective writing build in my mind and weave into my work
this was a valuable, insightful experience; I feel renewed and reaffirmed
plus the Social on Saturday night was wonderful!



Iowa City, IA
Mary Kay Shanley


People, Emotion , Dialogue, Place, the Senses: Basic Tools in All Genres

Participant Comments


Iowa City is a magical place, an oasis for literary arts
even the sidewalks are adorned with brass plaques celebrating the words of authors
surround yourself with writers and receive instruction by the best in the country
I learned essential tools to strengthen my work in an honest, yet supportive atmosphere
my husband said what I brought home was my best writing
the class not only improved my writing skills, it was a blast
I gained a lot of practical hands experience, leaving with a deeper appreciation and understand of the craft
Mary Kay provided the best instruction and supervision I could have hoped for


The Why and How of Reflective Writing

Participant Comments


We were what seemed a variety of students, bringing much life experience to the workshop and certainly the gift of writing
not surprisingly from past Iowa Workshops, we as a group were wonderfully open to each