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Do you have a novel draft currently living in a dresser drawer? Or a collection of short stories that never became long enough to be a collection? Do you have a million little pieces of a memoir hiding under your bed, or in the back of your mind, or in a giant ball right behind your heart just begging you to dig in and put all the pieces together? Do you have a book pressing on you, niggling at you, suggesting to you in the early hours of the morning that if you don’t write it, it might be the one thing for which you cannot forgive yourself? Do you have an idea so big and hard and beautiful you suspect that writing it will set you free or heal your heart or save your life? At Writing By Writers DRAFT, we know exactly what that feels like, and we want to provide a space, a nudge, and a structure in which you can get that book written. You only have to make the commitment to yourself. Join us, for two unforgettable years of writing, fellowship, constructive compassionate critique and community.

Writing By Writers DRAFT is an intensive program for 15 writers who are committed to completing a novel, memoir, short story, or essay collection over the course of two years. Whether starting a first draft, or working through a new revision, this program is appropriate for writers who want a rigorous and supportive community throughout their process.  If you already have a completed manuscript you want to workshop over a long weekend, check out our Manuscript Boot Camp.

Key Dates:  Application Deadline, January 15, 2023; Acceptance Notification, February 1, 2023; Registration Deadline, February 15, 2023; Program Kick Off, February 28, 2023.

Curriculum & Format:  The heart and soul of Writing By Writers DRAFT are four in-person retreats where writers will workshop their draft-in-progress, as well as attend craft talks, panels and readings. Over the two year program, we will focus consecutively on the three stages of writing --- inspiration, execution and revision. Our final retreat will be a pre-publication bootcamp, where your faculty and fellow writers will read your entire draft. At each retreat, five writers will work closely with one faculty member, rotating each retreat so that by the end of a year and a half, all writers will have studied with Sam Dunn, Pam Houston and Josh Mohr. For the final retreat, writers will select who they would like to work with a second time. Before each retreat, writers will submit their cumulative pages to their faculty and four peers to be critiqued at the in-person workshop (up to 75 pages first retreat, 150 pages second retreat, 225 pages third retreat, 300 pages fourth retreat). Whether in person, or writing furiously at home, DRAFT members will be part of a supportive, encouraging and tight-knit writing community.

What you can expect from the program:

  • 4 in-person retreats (lodging and group meals included)

  • faculty panels focused on the stages of writing – inspiration, execution and revision

  • faculty craft talks specific to elements of writing a book-length manuscript

  • faculty one-on-ones to help shape and guide your process

  • reading and critique of 750 pages in total of your draft-in-progress by faculty members and four of your peers

  • the opportunity to work with three different faculty members who are accomplished novel, memoir and short-story writers

  • faculty and student readings

  • resources on the ins and outs of the publishing world

  • a monthly on-line book chat focused on the craft of writing

  • an on-line forum to connect with fellow program members to share encouragement, inspiration and support

  • an intimate and tight-knit community of 15 writers and 3 faculty committed to the same goal

Tuition:  Tuition is $6,250 per year (payable $3,125 per retreat) and includes four days of workshop, one-on-ones, admittance to all craft talks, panels and readings, group meals and lodging for three nights.  

Tentative In-Person Retreats:  August 24 - 27, 2023 (Boulder, CO), February 22 - 25, 2024 (Mill Valley, CA), August 22 - 25, 2024 (Boulder, CO) and February 20 - 23, 2025 (Mill Valley, CA).  

Faculty:  Samantha Dunn, Pam Houston and Joshua Mohr.




Samantha Dunn

Samantha Dunn is the author of Failing Paris, a finalist for the PEN West Fiction Award in 2000, and the memoirs Not By Accident: Reconstructing a Careless Life (Henry Holt & Co.), a BookSense 76 pick, and Faith in Carlos Gomez: A Memoir of Salsa, Sex and Salvation.  Samantha’s work is anthologized in a number of places, including the short story anthology, Women on the Edge: Writing from Los Angeles, which she co-edited with writer Julianne Ortale. Other recent collections showcasing her work include the Seal Press releases Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the Stories That Kept Us Small and Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up.  Samantha’s essays have appeared in numerous national publications including the Los Angeles Times, O (Oprah) Magazine, Ms., and Shape. In 2000 she received the Maggie Award for Best Personal Essay in a Consumer Publication. A widely published journalist, her bylines are regularly featured in InStyle, Glamour, SELF, Men’s Health and a variety of other consumer magazines. She has also written for the stage, as a co-creator of the show “American Ese,” and has taken a few turns screenwriting as a member of the Writers Guild of America. Samantha teaches in the UCLA Extension Writers Program and at the Idyllwild Arts Center in California, and was a longtime writer-in-residence at the New York State Summer Writers Institute.  A former specialty features writer for The Orange County Register, Samantha lives in Orange, California, with her husband, musician/politico Jimmy Camp, and their son, Ben.


Pam Houston

Pam Houston is the author of the memoir, Deep Creek: Finding Hope In The High Country, as well as two novels, Contents May Have Shifted and Sight Hound, two collections of short stories, Cowboys Are My Weakness and Waltzing the Cat, and a collection of essays, A Little More About Me, all published by W.W. Norton. Her stories have been selected for volumes of The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize, Best American Travel Writing, and Best American Short Stories of the Century among other anthologies. She is the winner of the Western States Book Award, the WILLA Award for contemporary fiction, the Evil Companions Literary Award and several teaching awards.  She teaches in the Low Rez MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, is Professor of English at UC Davis, and co-founder and creative director of the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers, which puts on between seven and ten writers gatherings per year in places as diverse as Boulder, Colorado, Tomales Bay, California and Chamonix, France. She lives at 9,000 feet above sea level on a 120-acre homestead near the headwaters of the Rio Grande. A book of letters between Pam and environmental activist Amy Irvine will be published by Torrey House Press in October of 2020.


Josh Mohr

Joshua Mohr is the author of the memoirs “Model Citizen” (2021) and "Sirens", as well as five novels including "Damascus", which The New York Times called "Beat-poet cool." He’s also written "Fight Song" and "Some Things that Meant the World to Me," one of O Magazine’s Top 10 reads of 2009 and a San Francisco Chronicle best-seller, as well as "Termite Parade," an Editors’ Choice in The New York Times. His novel "All This Life" won the Northern California Book Award. He is the founder of Decant Editorial.


Application Details

The application period opens July 15, 2024 and the application submission deadline is January 15, 2025.  Acceptance notifications will be made by February 1, 2025.  The program will kick off, February 28, 2025. The next application period will open July 15, 2026 and the application deadline will be January 15, 2027.

Acceptance to the two-year DRAFT program is based upon review of a writing sample of up to 30 pages (double-spaced, Times New Roman or similar font), ideally from the draft you plan to complete during the program, a project synopsis and a short bio. An application fee of $25 is required.  If you are accepted to the program, your application fee of $25 will be applied to your tuition. Once you apply you will receive an immediate email confirmation of your application. Sometimes these go into your junk or bulk mail folder. If this happens, please add to your safe senders list to make sure you get our acceptance notification!

If you are accepted, you will be notified via email and asked to register by submitting the first session payment of $3,125 by Feb 15, 2025.

Cancellation Policy:  Refunds for cancellations made after registration are contingent upon filling your place and will be made only if your place is filled. In the unlikely event that we must cancel this program and you do not wish to transfer to another workshop, you will receive a full refund.

Applications Closed
(opens July 15, 2024)

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