What is The Kaleidoscribe Retreat?

Through the alchemy of light and refraction, a kaleidoscope transforms collections of even the tiniest and most random items into a symmetrical yet endlessly changing masterpiece. When a Scottish physicist invented this little delight by accident, he named it using words from Ancient Greek that literally mean a “tool for viewing beautiful patterns.”

Our lives, too, contain beautiful, irreplicable patterns. Sometimes, though, it takes work—some twisting, squinting, turning towards the light—for these constellations of meaning to be brought into awareness and words.

The Kaleidoscribe Workshop is a virtual writing retreat that uses a uniquely structured approach to help writers of memoir and other autobiographical genres “twist the kaleidoscope” of creative memory around key stories, scenes, memories, or themes in their writing. Over the course of a day and a half, we’ll move through a series of gentle yet energizing prompts and exercises to help us open up fresh perspectives, patterns, and meaning in our work. Led by Nicole Roccas, an author and certified trauma-informed coach, the workshop is based on strategies aimed to support not only creativity but also internal safety and connection in the sometimes distressing terrain of creative writing, especially memoir writing.

This is a generative retreat, not a critique or revision retreat.

Basic details


I am offering 2 cohorts of this retreat during Fall 2023. To enhance community and consistency, participants can only attend the sessions in the cohort they enroll in.

  • Cohort 1 (FOREST): Nov 16-17, 2023 – (Approx 10AM-5PM ET both days) The forest cohort contains the same sessions and content, takes place during daytime hours only on a Thursday to Friday, for people who prefer a workday retreat. It will contain generous breaks for lunch, snacks, movement, sanity.
  • Cohort 2 (PLUM): Dec 1-2, 2023 – Day 1 (7-9PM); Day 2 (multiple sessions broken up between 10AM ET and 9PM ET with generous breaks).

Other info

  • All sessions will be conducted via Zoom with an optional WhatsApp group chat. Participants will also gain access to a designated space in my online community for retreat participants.
  • The retreat takes place over the course of two days, with ample breaks for rest, meals, and movement. (Read more about the retreat schedule in the “What to look forward to” section below.)
  • For fee information, see “Pricing” section below.

The Kaleidoscribe Retreat is ideal for writers who are:

  • Working in memoir or other autobiographical nonfiction genres, such as personal essays, travel writing, spiritual memoir, autobiographical poetry, etc.
  • Seeking to make generative progress on a current WIP in a creative, supportive, and gently challenging environment 
  • Struggling to bring certain scenes, details, or memories to life in their larger work
  • Writing from a place of relative safety, strength, and support, even (especially) if they are writing about difficult or wounding experiences 
  • Interested in incorporating basic trauma-informed principles to navigate the vulnerable aspects of writing in a more holistic way 
  • Comfortable with video chat (we will use the Zoom platform) and contributing to a supportive community for the duration of the retreat
  • Able to self-motivate during writing exercises/prompts and limit distractions
  • Generous and open to witnessing the words of others and sharing in the joys and challenges of the writing retreat journey    
  • Desiring a quiet, creative refuge away from the hustle of ordinary life and priorities

Please note: this retreat is not intended for therapeutic writing, that is, writing or journaling about emotional experiences primarily for the purpose of personal healing.   


What to look forward to


Friday evening session

On Friday evening, we’ll meet over video conferencing to get to know one another, establish some parameters, and settle into our journey together. Through a few brief and invigorating creative exercises, we’ll begin to identify one or more key stories, scenes, or memories we’d like to focus on over the retreat. Then we’ll sleep on it!

Saturday morning

Saturday morning, we’ll meet early for an optional, informal breakfast or coffee chat, and then start in on a series of prompts and exercises, each one inviting us to turn the kaleidoscope of our minds and explore the scene or story through a different frame or with a new configuration.

Saturday afternoon

After a break for some lunch, movement, or napping, we’ll return for some longer and more generative writing sessions that build on insights gained in the morning.

Saturday evening – reception

In the evening on Saturday, we’ll meet up one last time for a farewell reception where we will debrief from the retreat and have the option to share a piece of our writing with others.  


The forest cohort will contain the same content and sessions listed above, but they will be broken up across daytime hours of a Thursday and Friday, with generous breaks for lunch, snacks, movement, sanity.

All sessions will be conducted via Zoom, with ample breaks for meals, movement, and sanity. There will also be the option to join a retreat Whatsapp group and receive alerts or notifications when sessions or exercises are beginning and ending.

Participants will receive view-only access to all session recordings for two weeks following the retreat.

Fun (and symbolic) fact: all the visual elements on this page were created by kaleidoscoping the same original image (scroll to the bottom to see it!). We can see new and beautiful forms emerge when we engage our lives in different ways!

What you can expect to leave with

  • A treasure trove of new writing that, depending on how you approach the exercises, can be diffuse or focused around a key theme, memory, or scene
  • Greater sensory and internal connection to the essence of your writing project
  • Some new practices to help you stay grounded in your mind and body when you’re writing
  • New connections with supportive, like-minded writers
  • A gentle, imaginative structure you can always revisit to breathe life, awareness, and meaning into key elements of your autobiographical writing that seem hazy, unformed, or otherwise difficult to bring into focus

Retreat Facilitator

Hey! I’m Nicole Roccas. I’m the creator and facilitator of the Kaleidoscribe Retreat.

I’m an author and certified trauma-informed coach. As a coach, I support clients as they move forward in their healing journey by recovering freedom, safety, and vitality within themselves. Think of a trauma-informed coach as a step down from a therapist and a step up from a really attentive friend. I work alongside people as a peer, asking powerful questions, sharing experiences, offering gentle challenge, and bearing witness to the pain and joy encountered along the path to wholeness. Writers and other creatives have formed a sizable portion of my clientele, and it’s been a joy to see them move through creative hurdles and give expression to their experiences.

In my writing, I gravitate towards the tough stuff (theology, acedia, grief, and recently trauma). In recent years, my writing has shifted towards autobiographical nonfiction, where I’ve learned “braving the fire” (to borrow from Jessica Handler) never gets easier. To stay supported and grounded as a writer, I rely on some of the same trauma-informed principles and insights I use as a coach.

The Kaleido-scribe Retreat was inspired by what I’ve learned over the years as both a writer and coach of writers about what helps us write into the difficult, fuzzy, painful, distant spaces within ourselves.


*All cohorts participate in the same retreat and pay the same amount, the only difference is the dates. The colour/names are a completely arbitrary (also fun) way to differentiate the cohorts to avoid confusion.*

Cohort 1 –

Nov 16-17, 2023

Cost: US $179

(This retreat cohort meets during workday
hours, 10AM-5PM ET both days)

Cohort 2 –

Dec 1-2, 2023

Cost: US $179

(starting 7PM ET on Day 1 and
lasting until 9PM ET on Day 2)

Enrollment comes with:

  • Entry to the retreat for the cohort/dates purchased.
  • Access to a private online space for participants in your cohort to get to know one another
  • Resources, preparation tips, and exercises from the Coach to support your writing before, during, and after the retreat.
  • Access to an optional WhatsApp group chat for during the retreat. We’ll use this group mainly for administrative purposes to signal the beginning and end of sessions and writing exercises if people are away from their computer.
  • Access to view-only recordings of the retreat for two weeks following your cohort dates.


What if I’m not a published author?

No worries! Participants do not need to be published in order to sign up. As long as you’re serious about writing and improving your craft, you’re in the right place.

I can’t make it in real time. Should I still enroll?

Although Kaleido-scribe participants willl have access to session recordings for two weeks after the retreat, they will likely get the most out of it by attending as much of the retreat in real-time as possible, due to the magic of community and retreat environment.

I’m a fiction writer. Could I still enroll?

Unfortunately, this iteration of the retreat is formulated specifically for writers of memoir and other forms of autobiographical nonfiction. 

Do I need to be writing about trauma?

Nope! The retreat is intended for those writing on any autobiographical focus. Let’s face it, mining our lives for the purpose of writing can be legitimately stressful, even when trauma isn’t involved! We’ll be incorporating some basic trauma-informed principles not so much for therapeutic reasons, but because they involve helpful strategies for supporting ourselves and others in safe, empowering ways. 

If this is a “trauma-informed” retreat, why isn’t it retreat suitable for therapeutic writing?

Good question! Because therapeutic writing has a different aim than generative writing for a public audience. There are some survivors writing groups or retreats where people are writing for the explicit purpose of healing, almost like a kind of therapy, but this is not one of them. 

Just because something is “trauma-informed” does not necessarily mean its intended to help people actively work through trauma therapeutically. This retreat is “trauma-informed” in the sense that it follows best practices around supporting ourselves and others in ways that are less likely to cause or intensify internal harm, even if we are carrying hidden wounds from the past (and we’re all carrying something). I find this an important approach to creative work in general, but autobiographical writing in particular, as it can touch on personal experiences and distress we have not fully come to terms with yet.

I’m in between works in progress and would like to use this retreat to help me brainstorm ideas for my next work, can I still join?  

Sure! I will offer some slightly modified versions of some of the exercises for people in this scenario.

Will we have the opportunity to receive feedback or critique on our work?

This is a generative retreat, not a critique or revision workshop. There will not be time or space for receiving formal feedback. Participants will, however, have the chance to share short portions of their writing during the reception on the last night for the purpose of sharing community and bearing witness to one another’s work. 

I saw that the pictures in this page were all kaleidescope filters of the same image. What was the original image?

Here it is!