When we heard that one of our favorite longtime contributors, Erin Rose Belair, had combined her boundless creativity and ample traveling experience to create Trust and Travel, a unique five day creative writing retreat that is equal parts immersive, intuitive, and inspirational, we jumped at the chance to chat with her about it, and not just because it’s housed in a breathtaking boutique resort carved out of the jungle in our favorite colorful corner of Mexico (although that certainly doesn’t hurt). Dive in below as we discuss details about the retreat (sign us up already), the connection between travel and creativity, and the importance of not just finding but listening to your voice, both in writing and in life.
“Every now and then something comes along that just absolutely changes the trajectory of your life. For me, for my writing life, this has always come in one of two ways: a new teacher who guides me and lifts up my work into a new space, or a trip that reaches down into my person and reminds me just how beautiful the world is. We created Trust and Travel because it does both of those things at once, and because we need it. You need it. We all need it.
This is the first of what we hope will be many adventures. Trust and Travel is an immersive writing retreat at the Verana Boutique resort in Yelapa, Mexico, taking place from October 10th-15th. Five days and six nights of organic meals, morning yoga and meditation, adventures, and writing workshops that cover everything from how to pitch a piece to how to find your voice. We are one part creative and one part creation. You could start your novel, you could launch your travel writing career, you could remember what it feels like to hear yourself clearly. If you hear me and if you feel this, come join us.”
Live FAST: Hi Erin! Tell our readers who you are and what you do.
Erin Rose Belair: I am a writer of many kinds. I work as a travel writer and copywriter. I am trying my skills in screenwriting. I am nearly finished with my first novel. I publish short stories and nonfiction prose. Whatever I can get my hands into, I’m into it. I also have been writing here at Live FAST for years now. Wow, yup, years.
LF: You’ve written some incredible travel stories for Live FAST over the years, and your travels remain an endless source of wanderlust. How did you start travel writing, and what do you like about it?
ER: Honestly, Live FAST is how I started. You guys gave me a platform when no one else would and gave me the creative freedom to write whatever I wanted. To this day my favorite and most personal pieces are here. To answer the rest of the question – what’s not to like about travel writing? It’s a dream. It turns me onto the world. It makes me more observant. And it leads me out of my comfort zone, all of which are essential for coming back to the page to work.
LF: In your opinion, what is the connection between travel and creativity?
ER: Travel pushes me outside of myself in a way that being home does not. Being home is going inward. Traveling is moving and taking in everything I can. It also asks you to be present in a very specific way, and I think that sharpens our skills as writers. It teaches you how to notice the world. It’s one of the most important things you can do as a writer.
LF: Tell us a little about Trust and Travel, the writing retreat you’re hosting this fall in Mexico with fellow writer Jade Moyano. What inspired you to create and curate a retreat that blends creative writing workshops with yoga and meditation?
ER: I’ve always wanted to do something like this. I love attending workshops and retreats. Every time I leave one, I feel re-inspired and ready to work. But the idea of hosting a retreat alone was far too daunting. It was Jade’s idea, and when she asked if I wanted to partner with her I didn’t think twice. She is a gifted writer and yoga instructor and swears by meditation as an essential tool in her creative process. The holistic element just felt really natural.
We are talking about writing and doing a lot of writing, but the heart of it is the combination of the two, of finding your voice and learning how to listen to yourself and draw that out. A huge aspect of this retreat is connecting with one another and with oneself.
LF: Why did you choose the Verana in Yelapa, Mexico, for the inaugural retreat?
ER: We wanted a unique location where getting there and being there is part of the experience. We’re talking travel writing a lot so travel is an integral part of what we are offering. Verana is a dream. Everything from the views to the food is incredible. The place is an experience in itself. We want our guests to learn and grow, but also relax and enjoy themselves, and be inspired to write while they are there.
LF: What are you hoping attendees will gain through their experience on the retreat?
ER: Ideally, whatever they came looking for. We have all sorts of writers coming: those who want to break through writer’s block, those who haven’t written in five years, those who want to learn how to express themselves, those who are looking to advance their careers. It’s for any writer at any stage of their writing life.
LF: What will a typical day look like? What kind of writing will the workshops cover?
ER: Every day will be similar yet different. We always start with morning yoga and meditation led by Jade and the wonderful Kelly Kundalini (we are so excited she is joining us). We will have morning journaling and creative sessions designed to unlock our voices and flex our writing muscles. In the afternoons, we will have excursions and intensive workshops, which range from the structure of travel essays to the art of the lyrical essay. Everything is designed to feed into each other and be accessible and helpful to all. Plus, we will be eating incredible organic meals, lounging by the pool, and spending our evenings sharing work and enjoying one another’s company. We will also have a guest workshop from book editor/writing guide Kate Juniper, who is going to teach us how to get our work in fighting shape for the world!
LF: What is the importance of a retreat like this to the creative process?
ER: It can do wonders. So often, we write alone and it’s important to let our work breathe, to boost our confidence, to feel that camaraderie in the work. You leave with a newfound appreciation for yourself, your work, and a plan of what you’re going to tackle next. They’re a lifeline, and I cannot recommend it enough.
LF: Your travel writing feels refreshingly spontaneous, imbued with a raw sense of adventure and a willingness to get out of your comfort zone. How will you tap into that on the retreat?
ER: Thank you! Our hope is that the combination of creative exercises with talks on structure and content will produce work that feels original and wholly their own. It’s the experience that feeds work like that, and our brave attendees are stepping out of their comfort zone just by buying a ticket. In a way, their journey has already begun. If it were me, the piece would reach all the way back to that decision and start there.
LF: What is a piece of writing advice that has always stuck with you?
ER: “Stay in the room. The writer stays in the room.” Essentially, it means sit your ass back down and work. So much of a writing life happens while you’re living and thinking and drinking wine. But at the end of the day, you have to actually do the work to be a writer.
LF: What advice would you give your younger self?
ER: I would tell her to make the effort and connect with more writers. Having a community is so incredibly vital to producing good work. It’s exactly why we created Trust and Travel. I wish something like this had been around when I was starting out.
LF: What is a piece of writing or literature that changed your life?
ER: Joan Didion, Slouching Toward Bethlehem. Maggie Nelson, Bluets. Mary Gaitskill, Bad Behavior. I could go on and on. I love badass women writers.
LF: Anything else we should know about the retreat?
ER: Join us! We are a small and intimate retreat. There are only 12 spots and currently only 3 tickets left. Everything is inclusive to the ticket (aside from airfare). We have a few sponsors that we are beyond excited about but we are looking for a couple more, so hit us up if you want to support us – there are tons of ways to help! Take the leap of faith and give yourself this time to hone your craft. You know who you are.
LF: Just one final question: where do we sign up?
ER: Fill out our intake form here. It doesn’t hold your spot, but it does start the conversation with us so you can ask questions and we can get to know you better.