san marcos la laguna, guatemala


March 13 -22, 2020

I believe those days with Joyce in Guatemala changed me as a person and a writer. The knowledge I gained equals an MFA (or two!) in creative writing! Lake Atitlan provides the perfect setting for getting away from daily life and back to creativity.”
— Mary Black

Sunrise hike. By WBTL student Minky Worden, 2018.

Sunrise hike. By WBTL student Minky Worden, 2018.

Sunrise over Lake Atitlan, the site of Joyce's WRITE BY THE LAKE workshop.

Sunrise over Lake Atitlan, the site of Joyce's WRITE BY THE LAKE workshop.

Next winter marks the twentieth Guatemalan workshop, with a time-tested format in a rare and magical location—the Mayan village of San Marcos La Laguna, surrounded by five volcanoes, on the shores of one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.  Start your journey with an overnight stay in the lovely town of Antigua prior to arriving at Lake Atitlan, and then wake up refreshed to take a private shuttle with the group to the Guatemalan highlands for 7 very full days of workshopping sessions. Your time at the lake will begin as you disembark on Joyce's dock. Pitchers of margaritas —and your host for the week, Joyce — will be waiting. That first night at the lake, enjoy getting to know your fellow writers under the stars at the welcome party, complete with wood-fired pizza, dancing, and music under the stars. The hard work begins in earnest the next morning until the closing circle. In between, you are encouraged to attend as many or as few sessions as you please — and to take breaks for massages, walks, and swimming or kayaking — though each person has two dedicated workshopping sessions for their own work.  

Joyce welcomes writers of all levels, from those publishing work or completing MFA’s to others just beginning to pursue writing. Students will submit a manuscript to be critiqued with the group by Joyce during an hour-long workshop session that will offer valuable learning not only for that writer but for all who participate

All the students will join together for craft talks, jumpstart writing prompts, a majority of the week’s meals, and evening readings.  And, of course, enjoy the final night’s party on Joyce’s grounds for a perfect ending to the workshop. Optional add-on stay available, if you’d like to extend your trip to write. 

Workshopping: How Sessions Run

We’ll spend the week exploring the one story, above all others, in which you are the world’s expert: your own.  Using, as the basis for instruction, your manuscript submission (self-contained personal essays for some, an excerpt from a longer work of memoir for others) But as much as our work will focus on issues of craft and technique, we’ll look at the question that belongs at the core of every personal narrative: not simply “what happened?” but “what is your story about?”  And this one: “What has your journey been, and where has it taken you?” Participants in this workshop will be asked to submit a 2500-word sample—a stand-alone essay or an excerpt. Each writer’s work and story will be the focus of a workshop session, addressed in a way that will contain abundant lessons not only for that writer but for the others in the group. Those who have not written something yet—but want to—can submit a bare-bones description of the story they want to tell, but don’t know how to begin—in which case, we’ll spend that writer’s workshop session sketching out the method for embarking on a memoir project. We’ll also talk about the question of what a writer’s obligations and responsibilities are, to the people in his or her life, when telling a story in which their actions play a part.  

join us!

Joyce at her whiteboard, making stories stronger, tighter, and more honest.

Joyce at her whiteboard, making stories stronger, tighter, and more honest.

  1. Review essential information

  2. Submit a 1000-word writing sample, which can be either a stand-alone essay or an excerpt from a larger piece. Those who would like their workshop experience to help them begin a story that they have not yet written can submit a description of the story they want to tell and their goals as a writer.

    Please send submissions to joycemaynardworkshop@gmail.com

  3. Once accepted, you will receive details on securing your place in the workshop from Joyce. We will help you with your adventure every step of the way!



TUITION: $2900


  • A private room at a beautiful, colonial hotel in Antigua with a group welcome dinner and a typical Guatemalan breakfast the next morning

  • Round-trip transportation from Antigua to Lake Atitlan

  • Workshop admission to as many sessions as you care to attend

  • Breakfasts, lunches, tea, local coffee, healthy snacks and non-alcoholic beverages, all prepared with care taken to ensure safety for those unaccustomed to local food

  • Arrival and departure parties including food, drinks, music, and dancing

  • Breathtaking views

LAKE ATITLAN HOUSING: $200 - $700 for the 8 days at the lake

  • Housing costs at the lake are paid in addition to tuition

  • Choice of private room and private bathroom (very limited) or room/bathroom shared with one other student

  • Once you have been accepted, we will work with you to book a room that meets your preferences

  • Please keep in mind that all housing is first-come, first-served


Want to save $100 on your tuition?

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