Nomadic Chick Sparks a Creative Revolution

by Gray Cargill on October 1, 2014

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This week’s interview is for the women out there who are writers or would-be writers. If you feel you have a powerful piece of writing inside of you, that you yearn to bring to life but you haven’t been able to make it happen, read on. Don’t worry, there is a travel component to this, too. And next week, we’ll get back to purely travel.

One of my favorite sister travel bloggers is Jeannie Mark, author of the beautifully-written Nomadic Chick. Jeannie, like me, is a solo female traveler — only she does it full-time. I first met Jeannie a few years ago in Montreal. She is just as smart, just as much fun, and as lovely a person as you might imagine if you’ve ever read her work. We bonded over our shared love for the written word and being single women travelers.

While I love the work Jeannie’s done with her own writing at Nomadic Chick, I’m thrilled that she’s taken on a role mentoring emerging writers and travelers through prominent speaking engagements like the 2013 Asian Women’s Empowerment Conference and her 2014 keynotes at the Women in Travel Summit and Blogstock. What you may not know about Jeannie is that she’s also leading writing webinars and retreats. Jeannie and writer/editor Leigh Shulman (of The Future is Red) are co-founders of Creative Revolution Retreats.

Creative Revolutions has a women-only retreat coming up in February 2015 in Costa Rica that I thought might interest some of you ladies out there: Though writing is the central focus, the retreat also takes a holistic approach to “self care” via meditation, practicing yoga, getting massages, and more with a small group of other women who are on the same journey. It has the benefit, of course, of being hosted in the exotically beautiful Costa Rica. Sometimes, it takes getting away from everyday obligations and stressors to focus on the creative process to kickstart that writing project you’ve been thinking about for years but haven’t actually started–or to just get back in touch with the creative side of yourself that you may have lost from years of being worn down by the world.

To give you a better idea of what this particular retreat is all about, I asked Jeannie to answer a few questions for me. Here is the focus of the retreat, in Jeannie’s words:

Leigh and Jeannie

Leigh Shulman and Jeannie Mark: Hoping to spark a creative revolution

What brought you and Leigh together to create this retreat?

Leigh was my editor on my book, but we’d often have these in-depth discussions about being female writers and the challenges we come across. We realized that so few women writers are focused on in the media in positive ways and that many women come to us for advice about writing. We are always on the same page when it comes to creativity and knew we wanted to build something lasting for other writers.

Your retreat emphasizes the connection between “self-care” and creativity. Can you tell us a bit more about why you think wellness is important to the writing process? Can’t one be a great writer if they’re a chain-smoking alcoholic?

I hate the image of the brilliant writer but geez, he or she is an unstable, half crazed alcoholic. Writing should come from freedom too, not solely pain. There was a time I didn’t take care of my wellness — when I smoked, drank somewhat heavily and had brilliant flashes of prose hit, but then it would die quickly. Why it did was because whenever I touched upon that part of myself where writing sprang from it brought inner demons. Why not a different approach? One where you take care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally, so that you can create freely–without doubt or anxiety. Artists bring beauty to the world, we have this gift, so let’s offer it joyfully.

Samasati Yoga Room


One of your goals for this retreat is to help women face and overcome their fears of writing. What do you think is the biggest stumbling block for women when it comes to writing? Or is it more than one thing?

I’d say the biggest stumbling block is perfection. Women are nursed from infancy to always be the perfect little girl — don’t talk too loud, say please and thank you, be polite — which then increases as we become adults. That perfection then turns into our appearance (whether we’re pretty enough), and whether we are good mothers. So when a woman wants to write, immediately that hateful inner critic is in place and its will is strong. The fact is, writing is not perfection. It’s a process, a wonderful, painful, sometimes tedious process. But when the flow happens, there’s nothing like words spilling from your head through your hands. That hateful inner critic is what we’re trying to banish at the retreat.

What’s the most important thing you hope attendees take away from your retreat?

Our retreat is about encouraging women to embrace themselves as they are and trusting in the ‘gift’. That ultimately means trusting themselves. You’d be surprised how a person will blossom once they hit upon that — everything about them becomes infected with confidence and a grounding they never thought they had. Fact is, we all have it, we just need to find it.

Thank you, Jeannie!

I sat in on a recent webinar Leigh and Jeannie hosted, titled “Get over your fear and finally write!” which covered the various fears that prevent us from writing. Leigh and Jeannie did a fabulous job covering the topic. The webinar gave me a good idea of what they could accomplish with a week-long writing retreat, and I was impressed. I have no doubt this is going to be a worthwhile retreat, but ultimately, only you can decide if it’s for you or not.

To get a better sense of what you might expect at the full retreat, you can sign up to participate in their next free webinar, coming up on October 8, 2014, titled “Let go of perfection and finish writing!” (Even if you have no interest in the Costa Rica retreat, if you have any interest in writing, I highly recommend checking out their webinars.) To read more about the upcoming  Costa Rica retreat, visit their website: Creative Revolution Retreats.

Photo credits: View of Costa Rica and Yoga, courtesy of Samasati via Creative Revolutions Retreats; all other photos by Creative Revolutions Retreats. 


Creative Revolution Retreats




Krystal November 12, 2014 at 9:42 am

What a great idea – I absolutely wish I could go. Your comments about perfectionism really resonate with me. I’ve gotten a little better over time with silencing that inner nag, but it’s still a challenge. I love the idea of the retreat and I wish you the best of luck with it!

Katie November 1, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Getting burnt out is kryptonite to the writer. The muse needs to be fed and nurtured, and I think that this retreat is an excellent way to accomplish this … thanks for spotlighting it!

Jeannie Mark November 1, 2014 at 11:52 pm

Hi Katie, I couldn’t agree more. We all get into modes of burnout or ‘dead hand’ as some call it. Our retreat is definitely for those people but also for anyone who hasn’t grasped a practice yet. Hope you consider coming!

The Scuttlefish October 2, 2014 at 8:35 am

Great initiative! So many of us have stories we want to share, but unfortunately without good storytelling skills they don’t reach very far. Having started a travel blog recently where I focus mainly on storytelling, I have realized how important it is to be persistent at writing.
This sounds like such a promising webinar!

Jeannie Mark October 2, 2014 at 8:35 pm

Hi Scuttlefish, skill comes from practice for sure — and that applies to anything. I really believe if you are naturally attracted to writing, it means you have an affinity for it, and 50% of it is talent, but the other 50% is developing a way to practice it to meet your goals.

We’d love it if you joined the webinar! Cheers. 😀

lee October 1, 2014 at 3:39 pm

thank you Gray for the last paragraph….
i am sitting in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and cant get anything on line………….

time to redirect.

Jeannie Mark October 1, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Hi Lee,

Being in any setting doesn’t help if your inner dialogue is stuck. I know this all too intimately what it means to be incongruous with where you are and how you feel.

Often being stuck is not trusting yourself and what you have to offer — believe in what you have to offer!

Anyway, I hope you do join us for the webinar on October 8th.

Gray Cargill October 1, 2014 at 9:31 pm

The two hardest parts of writing are starting and finishing. If you can fit it into your schedule, give the webinar a try, Lee.

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