Monday, 3 September 2012


I've just got back from a weekend of tutoring at the NAWG (National Association of Writers' Groups) Festival of Writing, which was held at Nottingham. (Spot the busy souls in my workshop here, clutching their heads, as they search for inspiration - so don't ask what the whisk is for!)

Whilst events like this are great opportunities for meeting up with old friends, it's also a brilliant way to make new friends and meet up with up with other like-minded people. In fact, on Friday, the day of arrival, there were many times when I was able to put a face to name I recognised from Twitter, or Wordpress, and other blogs that I follow.

During lunch on Saturday, I was chatting to some of the other delegates about why they'd come to this event, and a handful of them mentioned that this was the first such event they'd been to. Suddenly, a whole new world was opening up to them! For years, a couple of them had just been writing on their own, trying to make progress with their writing by reading articles and books on the subject. Some had even joined writers' groups to meet up with other writers, but writers' groups vary in size and quality. Some are excellent, but the drawback is that they may only expose you to the writing genres that other members are interested in. It wasn't until they'd come to something like NAWG's festival, that they realised there are so many writers - people with the same interest!

I could see that, to these people, a whole new world was opening up to them. They were busy sharing experiences and learning new things to try to take their writing further. No longer did they feel alone.

If you've never been to such an event, do try one out. Writing festivals and workshops might last for a day, a weekend, or a week. Yes, it can be difficult trying to fit it in around family life, but there's usually an option that you can fit to your particular circumstances. Whilst the NAWG festival operated over a weekend, many delegates attended for the one full day - Saturday, as a day delegate. That's something that other festivals and holidays often offer.

And, not only might you learn new skills and ideas, you'll also make lots of new friends - people you can keep in contact with in the future, if only by email or phone. Make one of these events a goal in your writing life. Set yourself the challenge of going to one - and perhaps even trying to pay for all, or the bulk of it, by selling an article, or two, or a couple of letters and fillers. By doing it that way, your writing is paying for your treat then!

Here are a few workshops and courses for you to ponder, if the idea takes your fancy:

The Gleanings, Shropshire. 22nd & 23rd September 2012.
Writing for the Magazine Market with some bloke called Simon Whaley. A look at writing letters, fillers, articles and short stories for magazines.

Chez-Castillon - Is There a Book In You? with Jane Wenham-Jones - a 5 day course taking place in October. (Note: Jane told me at the NAWG conference that there had been two cancellations, so there are now two places available on this particular course.) The course is also running again in April 2013. More details at

Relax & Write: Weetwood Hall, Leeds - A variety of courses running over the weekend of 26th - 28th October:

Write Better Poetry with Alison Chisholm
Writing Crime with Passion with Nick Oldham
Effective Self-Publicity with Malcolm Chisholm

In November, 9th - 11th, at the same venue:
Short Story Success with Linda Lewis.

8-10th March 2013 - Weetwood Hall, Leeds:
Write About Your Life with Alison Chisholm (by that I mean that Alison Chisholm will teach you how to write about your life - you don't need to have lived with Alison to go on this course!)
The Writers' Treasury of Ideas with Linda Lewis
Discover Travel Writing with some bloke called Simon Whaley!

Caerleon Writers Holiday - July 2013, Caerleon, near Newport, Cardiff.
Six days of workshops, talks and writing events. Workshops on writing fiction, non-fiction, novels and more.

Swanwick Writers Summers School - August 2013, Swanwick, Derbyshire.
Six days of workshops, talks, and other writing events - and many discos, too!

I hope some of those whet your appetite.

Good luck!


  1. I'd like to do something like this at some point but the thought of having to stand up in front of people is a really big issue for me (and always has been).

    1. Standing up in front of a group of people is not compulsory at these events - they're what you make of them. It's entirely up to you how much you get involved. But yes, if there's a small workshop group, you might feel confident enough to read out some of your work to those three or four people - and you never know where that may lead.

      There are several people at the writers circle i go to, who were frightened of reading out their work to the group. Now, they have the confidence to do it, and it's given them the confidence to do other things.

      Don;t think you have to read out your work at these events. You can just go and listen, and learn. But the opportunity is there, if the confidence finds you.