Devotion: Cultivating a daily writing practice.

This week-long writing workshop and retreat in the ancient hill town of Orvieto, Italy, to designed to help you cultivate a daily writing practice, access your creative abundance, and ‘do work’ on the language and images imprisoned within you which infuse your writing with vitality, beauty, and authenticity.

I have been writing for thirty years.  But only in the last 10 have I found joy and connection through writing, and ultimately writing success.  It is no mystery how and why this has happened–when I devoted myself to writing daily, a practice akin to devotion, the gifts began.

But writing everyday is its own challenge.  In response, I developed prompts, readings, inspirations to keep me writing, and to keep opening me to more writing.  This unique approach borrows concepts and principles found in monastic teachings throughout the world and applies them to the act of writing.

I’ve developed this workshop to share my experiences and ideas with other writers.  It is a way to give back to others what I stumbled upon as an act of grace. I want to help others find their own writing ‘abundance’, a place where you are writing, and emptying, only to find there you have more, and more that is given for you to express and to write about.

“I’ve tried several times to sit down and articulate what my time with [Justen] meant to me. The silence I felt is a sign of what a profound experience it was.  I took that trip with an open heart. But I received much more than I expected.  I didn’t expect to be so changed.”  –Gwen S.

Where: Orvieto, Italy

Orvieto_Italy_Writing Workshop and Retreat


The workshop takes place in the beautiful Umbrian hill town of Orvieto, with its many Etruscan, Roman and Medieval cultural sites, churches, and caves.  Loaded with fine restaurants serving Umbrian cuisine, markets with local goods, and shops selling everything from ceramics to Orvieto’s famous white wine, Orvieto has something for everyone and is sure to please and inspire.

Our home for the week, is the family-run Hotel Duomo, just steps from the main Piazza and Orvieto’s famous Duomo (Cathedral).  Orvieto is just 11/2 hours north of Rome and the same distance south of Florence.  It is easily reached by car or train.

Immerse yourself in Italian village and cultural life, and join a nurturing workshop community that will take your writing to a new level.

Instructor: Justen Ahren

Justin Ahren | Devotion to writing workshop | Noepe Centre | Martha's Vineyard

Justen Ahren is West Tisbury Emeritus Poet Laureate and author of the poetry collection, A Strange Catechism. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals including, most recently, Cafe Review, Comstock Review and BorderSenses. A graduate of Emerson College’s MFA Program, Justen has been teaching for many years in Italy, Mexico, and on Martha’s Vineyard, where he lives with his family. He is the founder and Director of Noepe Martha’s Vineyard Center for Literary Arts, and Martha’s Vineyard Writers Residency.

“How is it that someone can take 10 people (strangers on the surface only), and lead them through their fears, into a pool of light and color?  And you did it with such gentle grace.   Amazing.                    –Leigh C., Chestnut Hill, Ma.


Justen, what can I say? Thank you for believing in us.

Rose C., NYC


10 spaces available

Devotion: Cultivating a Daily Writing Practice
Nov 5th – 11th, 2017
All Genres/All Levels
$1495.00 with 6 nights accommodations in Orvieto.
Fees do not include transportation to and from Orvieto or meals. Please plan to arrive on Sunday and depart Saturday.  For an additional fee, it is possible to arrange a longer stay at Hotel Duomo.

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I make a list for Thanksgiving of things I am grateful for, and the Italy Retreat was one of the things on it. I got so much out of it both for my writing and for deepening my life, it was certainly worth it.

Kate M., Los Angeles

Course description

Applying concepts such as devotion, gratitude and surrender to the act of writing, this workshop explores how principles often associated with spiritual pursuits, can help us to cultivate a daily writing practice.  In class prompts and discussions have been are crafted to help get you to the page and keep you writing deeply, and with more curiosity, joy and purpose than ever before.

Each day is devoted to the exploration of a concept–gratitude for example.  We write around and discuss the idea in order to experience how it might help us write creatively, deeply and freely.

Workshops are held from 10-1 each day.  Afternoons are free to allow you time to explore Orvieto.  We reconvene in the evening for dinner and readings.



This workshop is for those who:

–love to write but experience writer’s block, fear, and self-judgement.

–for those who sometimes become frustrated with writing, and wish to write more consistently, more deeply.

–for those who want to access the abundant images, experiences, and memories that supply our writing with richness and surprise.

–for those who feel stuck and can’t find anything to write about.

–for those seeking inspiration and momentum in their work.

–for those who want a daily writing practice and the deeper connection to the world and its mysteries which a devoted practice can bring.

What can we learn from their adherence to ritual practices and concepts such as gratitude, surrender, trust, and devotion?

How do spiritual devotees (monks) nurture their connection to the divine mystery?

How, as writers, artists, creators can we develop a practice that will bring us abundance and connection with the creative energy of the universe which is always waiting to assist us?

NOTE: This workshop does not promote any set religious beliefs, or concepts.  One does not need to be religious nor spiritual to benefit from this workshop.  Participants do not need to believe in God, or belong to any religious denomination. We talk generally about principles found across all belief systems, as well as practices which successful writers and artists have used to help them to create abundantly.

You provided such a safe place in which to share my writing. I am forever grateful.Christina V., Toronto

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