Cultivating play and rest

If we want to live a Wholehearted life, we have to become intentional about cultivating rest and play, and we must let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self worth.’

Brené Brown

Write a 7,000 word short story in 7 days

NEXT Retreat Date TBA - express interest here

Join Shelley McNamara (that's me) for this CREATIVE WRITING 8 day, 7 night retreat in the luxury of Tallow Beach Cottages Byron Bay. This is your opportunity to relax, renew, restore and connect to your creativity while writing a 7,000 word short story.

Take some time out to write that short story that's been bubbling away inside you. This is your chance to finish a short story and get it ready to submit to competitions , or if you are a little more adventurous, a publisher. We will focus on aspects of narrative writing including characterisation, setting, plot, structure and writing style as well as the process of writing and finishing a short story. We will also explore more experimental types of narrative writing, including fictocritical writing, nature writing and intergeneric writing. 

The creative writing process allows you to explore hitherto unknown parts of the self, develop skills in narrative writing, connect with others and share your stories in a safe and supportive environment. In the morning, we will practice yoga, where the postures will focus on aiding creative writing, clarity, peace and a connection to self. 

It is my intention to hold sacred space and nurture you as you engage in this process of creative writing.


The retreat is open to writers of all levels and experience, including experienced writers, emerging writers and aspiring writers who have always desired to write, but never got around to it. This is an opportunity for you to take time out to explore your unique life story, delve into your subconscious or merely experiment with the writing process.


Shelley McNamara

Shelley is an experienced writer and teacher who has been teaching Secondary English for the past 20 years. She has also written and co-authored numerous English textbook for Macmillan and Pascal Press. Shelley has created a number of creative writing ebooks that guide writing to write in various genres such as humour, horror and picture books writing. She has recently published HSC Standard English: a workbook for senior students and HSC Area of Study: Discovery a workbook for senior students. These are published on her website She also writes for 2 blogs - and

Shelley uses a number of creative writing techniques including stream of conscious writing, free writing, word association, fictocritical writing to explore traditional narrative elements such as characterisation, setting, plot and structure. She guides the writer to play with language and explore the subconscious in order to surprise and delight. 

She mentors young people in creative and analytical writing and runs the Brunswick Heads Writers' Group. Shelley has completed a MA in Creative Writing, MA in Egyptology and Bachelor of Education in English and History. Currently, she is co-authoring a contemporary novel with Katherine Pratt and undertaking a Masters in Publishing at Sydney University.

Shelley’s intention is to inspire people to write their own unique stories by drawing on individual experience and imagination. She believes in holding space for the voices within to emerge and flourish.



A generous breakfast will be served after the morning walk/reflection.


Lunch will be served also in the hall. 


Below is an outline of the amenities available for you at Tallow Beach Cottages. 

  • Direct access to Tallows Beach and the lake
  • Hall access where writing workshops will be conducted and meals served
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Tea and Coffee making facilities
  • Self contained cottages


Day 1

5pm - Welcome non-alcoholic drink and community dinner with retreat participants at Tallows Beach Cottages

Days 2 – 7

7:00am - 8:30am Lighthouse walk and journal reflection

8:30am - 10:00am Breakfast

10:00am - 1:00pm Creative writing

1:00pm - 2:30pm Lunch

2:30pm - 4:30pm Nature writing and experimental writing in surrounding areas of the retreat and the Byron Shire

4:30pm - Free time to explore

Day 8

7:00am - 8:30am Lighthouse walk

8:30am - 10:00am Breakfast

10:00am - 1pm Creative writing

1pm-2:30pm - Lunch

2:30pm-4:30pm Closing gathering


When you register, I will send you a form that will help you to prepare for the retreat. Basically, it would be good if you have an idea what you would like to write your short story about before the retreat. 

The creative writing classes are based on workshop style. What this means is that we will focus on an area of creative writing such as characterisation, look at an exemplary piece of writing (usually by a well-known author), complete creative writing activities and then share writing and receive feedback. 


FLY INTO Ballina airport. It is the closest, although Gold Coast is about 50 minutes away. 

You can also drive to the Cottages.


  • 7 nights accommodations in a twin share room in a 2 bedroom cottage at Tallow Beach Cottages (prices for an upgrade or single room available on request)
  • Welcome non-alcoholic drink and dinner at Tallow Beach Cottages
  • Morning walk to the lighthouse and guided journal writing
  • Creative writing workshop after breakfast and nature and experimental writing after lunch with Shelley
  • Healthy, delicious daily breakfast and lunch
  • Complimentary one hour massage at Tallow Beach Cottages
  • Creative writing workshop held in the beautiful hall
  • Ongoing support from your experienced facilitator


  • Airport transfers
  • Beverages like alcohol/soft drinks
  • Dinner 
  • Airfare/Ground Transport


Please fill out the Retreat Registration and Questionnaire with payment. This includes information to help the facilitators cater the creative writing classes to meet your needs. Click here to contact Shelley for forms. 


1. Choose from:

  • online via Paypal
  • electronic bank transfer
  • cheque
  • cash
  • credit card (available on request – 2% surcharge applies)

2. Pay in full now. See early bird discounts below.

3. Make a $500 deposit now - pay the remainder 30 days prior to the retreat.



Early Bird: TBA

Twin share - TBA

Regular Rates: 

Twin share - TBA

Upgrade and single room prices available on request. An ugrade includes new cottages. 


Register NOW. Contact Shelley for more information and registration.
Shelley: 0400110383


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