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Travel Writing: Making Our Trips Through Life Glow

  • Iowa Writers' House 332 East Davenport Street Iowa City, IA, 52245 United States (map)

When: Friday, November 30th, 6:00pm-7:30pm

Saturday, December 1st, 9:30am-3:30pm (Lunch break at noon)

Sunday, December 2nd, 9:30am-3:30pm (Lunch break at noon)

Where:  Iowa Writers' House, 332 East Davenport St

Cost: $265


Our travels through life form the basis of our stories.  Wherever we go and whatever we do there—whether we’re hiking in the desert, wandering through a museum in Florence, walking on a beach in Hawaii, touring the stacks of our local library, or visiting a friend in the hospital—has the makings of a great piece of writing. And turning whatever happens in our travels into something we write about makes us pay closer attention to what’s there, while the experiences are happening or after the fact. We become more present, and that makes everything more enjoyable; even the hard stuff becomes easier.  The writing itself is a kind of journey, and at the end we have something tangible—a piece of great writing—so others can share in our travels.

In this class we’ll use fun, easy, foolproof writing exercises to turn our travel stories into writing that’s fresh, exciting, and surprising.  We’ll create a small creative community in a strictly positive environment.  And we’ll talk about how to use writing as a life tool that can turn every trip we go on, whether it’s exciting and wonderful or not so wonderful, into a transformative experience, for us and our readers, allowing us to make the most of our travels through life.  We’ll also discuss issues of craft, such creating narrative drive and using concrete details, and talk about where students can go from here.



Mary Allen is the author of a literary memoir, The Rooms of Heaven, published by Alfred A. Knopf and Vintage Books.   She received an NEA grant for another book-length memoir and has published short work in Poets & Writers, Real Simple, Library Journal, CNN On-line, Shenandoah, Tiferet Journal, The Chaos, Beloit Fiction Journal, and Spoon River Poetry Review.  She has an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and has taught at the University of Iowa.  She lives in Iowa City and is a full-time writing coach.


I’ve learned from my own experience that writing can make you more alive. Every time I sit down to write, something opens up inside me and that opening stays with me for the rest of the day, making me feel better, happier, and more awake than I would otherwise. Writing also helps me get the most out of life. I’ve learned that writing about something that happened, whether it happened in the distant past or yesterday, puts a kind of light around it that’s healing, enlightening, and transformative.  I’ve also discovered that just deciding that I could write about something wakes me up and makes me start noticing the details which makes the moment glow. Thinking I’m going to write about an experience or a trip makes everything more interesting and funny and makes me aware and mindful in the best possible way.  I try to pass this on to my students in every class I teach.


Everyone has a story to tell. If you are financially unable to attend this workshop, scholarships are available through our generous partners and donors. Apply here:


Helping another person attend a workshop is helping them achieve their dreams. Thank you for making our world a better place.


All course information is sent to participants upon registering including confirmation of workshop times, location, and materials.