fullscreen background
Skip to main content

Winter Quarter

Winter Quarter Underway
Late-Start Classes
Still Available
shopping cart icon0


« Back to Creative Writing

WSP 100 A — Creative Writing Retreat at Djerassi

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Saturday - Thursday
Course Format: Off-campus
Duration: 6 days
Date(s): Feb 24—Mar 1
Drop Deadline: Jan 19
Units: 2
Tuition: $2200
Instructor(s): Malena Watrous, Ammi Keller
Limit: 7
Status: Pre-approval required
prior to enrollment
Saturday - Thursday
Feb 24—Mar 1
6 days
Drop By
Jan 19
2 Units
Malena Watrous, Ammi Keller
Pre-approval required
prior to enrollment
The submission deadline for retreat applications has passed, and registration is now closed. If you'd like to be notified if we offer this again, click here.


Set in the beautiful Santa Cruz mountains above the town of Woodside, the Stanford Continuing Studies Creative Writing Retreat at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program offers the opportunity to recharge your creative energies, recenter your projects, and gain a head of steam for your next phase of writing. Over six nights and five days, we will begin each day with optional exercise, then breakfast, and then a good morning’s writing, with plenty of trips to the “creative library.” Students will meet again for lunch and then our shared workshop. Afternoons will feature individual conferences with an instructor, plenty of writing time, and optional activities, such as a sculpture tour and nature hikes. We will meet again as a group for a wine hour, then dinner. Evenings will host communal readings in the gorgeous natural environment.

Our workshops will focus on narrative, fiction or nonfiction, long or short. Students are welcome to submit short stories, personal essays, or excerpts of novels, memoirs, or narrative nonfiction books (maximum 7,500 words). Submissions will be made in advance, so that participants can prepare to workshop each other’s manuscripts before arriving. Though we will be workshopping these pieces with a keen eye, our focus will be not on cutting criticism, but on encouraging the writer’s creativity in the narrative. We will ask questions, and hopefully help each other to see new opportunities inherent in our work.

In addition to a carefully read manuscript and workshop, students should leave the retreat with a better understanding of the opportunities and possibilities of their current project and their writing in general.

About lodging, meals, and location:

The Djerassi Resident Artists Program is located one hour south of San Francisco, nestled in redwood trees and coastal grasslands overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There are over sixty sculptures and five miles of private hiking trails to inspire and renew you. Chef Dan Tosh prepares a locally sourced dinner every evening; other staff prepare a simple breakfast and lunch, with communal cleanup. There are eleven rooms available: In the Artists’ House, four bedrooms share two adjoining bathrooms; in the Artists’ Barn, three loft bedrooms share two ground-floor bathrooms; and each of the four Middlebrook Studios has a private bathroom. Accommodations are rustic, and the view is spectacular.

Please note: Students registered for sections A and B will all participate in the same retreat. Those enrolled in section A will have access to a shared bathroom, and those in section B will have private bathrooms.

Tuition includes room, board, and airport pickup at the San Francisco airport (SFO). Airport pickup is dependent on students arriving and departing within certain time windows on the first and last days. Otherwise, students must arrange their own transportation.

This course offers an intensive workshop experience and is designed for intermediate to advanced writing students who have completed one or more Creative Writing courses with Stanford Continuing Studies. Admission is by application only.

No tuition discounts are available.

Malena Watrous, Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford; Online Writing Lead Instructor, Stanford Continuing Studies

Malena Watrous is the author of the novel If You Follow Me, which received a Michener-Copernicus award. She frequently reviews books for such publications as The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. She received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow.

Ammi Keller, Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Ammi Keller’s work appears in American Short Fiction, Joyland, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2015. She has edited fiction, nonfiction, and poetry at Soft Skull Press and St. Martin’s Press, and has received residencies from the Norton Island Colony, the Lambda Literary Writers Retreat, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.