WriteUp Creative Writing Courses

At the start of my regular creative writing sessions, I always ask students to share something positive about their week.

One of my main priorities as a teacher is to create a strong, supportive group. We learn so much when we're prepared to share our work, but sharing our work takes trust. Giving an insight into our lives and what's important to us helps to foster that trust.

At first when I ask my students to share something positive, they're often taken aback. Sometimes they can't think of anything to say. But as the weeks pass, and they get used to being asked to do this, they invariably manage to come up with something. Especially when they realise I'm not expecting it to be anything incredible - that I'm quite happy with "this morning I made myself a delicious mug of hot chocolate," or, "I sat in the garden for five minutes to listen to the birds singing."

I almost prefer to hear about these small, precious nuggets of joy in fact because they're the sort of things you can pepper your day with, rooted as they are in being mindful and in noticing your environment and your reactions to it. If you care to look, these moments are in endless supply. As I write on a cold, sunny day in November, I don't need to look any further than out of my window. This little beech tree is in my neighbour's garden. He can't see it unless he makes an effort, but we can see it all the time.  Lucky us!


Another reason I like to encourage a feeling of positivity in my classes is because writing - and getting published - can be so hard. As writers, we need the support of other writers. People who understand our struggles and our triumphs. We also need to be able to pick ourselves up and keep going when things don't work out the way we hope they will. Being positive helps us to this.

With my latest novel currently out on submission, I'm drawing on my habit of noticing the positives to help me deal with what feels like a roller coaster ride of excitement and anxiety. Everything I've been working towards and hoping for comes down to this.

Except of course, for the pure pleasure of putting words down on paper. Creating characters I care about. Solving plot puzzles and snatching at moments of inspiration. Responding to feedback to make the writing even better. A feeling of pride when things come together.

Whatever happens, I'll always have those things, and I intend to relish them. Celebrate them.

As well, of course, as starting to write something else!

In any Writing From Your Life Experience class of ten people, there may be ten different reasons why students want to use their life experience to inspire writing. One thing's for certain, it's going to be a lot easier to know HOW to write about your life if you know WHY you want to do it, and WHO you want to write for.

Some are writing as a legacy, because their want their children or grandchildren to know them better. Often this can be inspired by the death or illness of a family member. Loss makes them wish they had known more about their loved one before it was too late - because they know that if their mother/father/ grandparents/spouse had written anything down about their life, they would have devoured their words.

Others are writing to teach, or to be helpful. They have a strong feeling that the hard-won lessons of their life would benefit others, if only they could share them.

There are those who are writing as a means of understand situations or coming to terms with events of their lives. This type of writing can be immensely freeing.

Some students think that their lives would make an entertaining or exciting story that could become a best-seller.

Others just want to learn about writing and are taking on board the advice to 'write about what you know' because it seems a good place to start.

Students may be writing just for themselves.

For close family members.

For a clamouring public.

It depends entirely on what their BIG WHY is.

There are no right or wrong answers, but it is certainly very helpful to have this knowledge fixed in your mind as you start to write about your life, and this is the reason it's one of the first things I ask my students to consider before we dive into creative writing exercises designed to get those memories flooding back.

I have two Writing From Your Life Experience courses starting from January 2019:

Creative Writing - From Life Experience - Ten weeks on Thursday afternoons from 24th January at Wensum Lodge, Norwich.

Developing Life Writing Skills - Ten weeks on Tuesday afternoons from Tuesday 15th January at Merchant's Place, Cromer.

I hope to see you on one of them![click_to_tweet tweet="Reasons to write about your life. Your Big Why and Your Big Who. Life Writing classes in Norfolk from January 2019. #memoir #norfolk #creativewriting #autobiography" quote="Your Big Why and Your Big Who. Reasons to write about your life."]

Hi everyone

I hope you're surviving the heatwave! Love it or loathe it, it seems to be here to stay at the moment. How is your writing going?

I have lots of news for you this week - about new courses and events. But first, I thought you'd like to hear about some of my recent insights about writing.

I've been working hard on a new novel set in North Norfolk called The House on the Marshes. It's quite a complicated book because it has two timelines which link up by the end. I've enjoyed writing it hugely, not least because it gives me an excuse to visit the North Norfolk coast often.

After receiving feedback on the first draft, I did some rewriting before taking part in an online challenge to write a book pitch in only 40 words. It was called a challenge for a reason, because it was very difficult to do - but so worthwhile. I'd recommend it to anyone, whether you've finished your book or not, because it really forces you to identify what drives the story. In my case, it showed me that I needed to strengthen one of the two timelines, which was invaluable.

Another thing I've found really helpful for the final stages of finishing my book, is just to give it lots of time and space - not being in too much of a hurry to get it done. Taking my time in this way has allowed little pieces of the puzzle of the book to pop into my mind for me to link them satisyingly together. So, not being in too much of a rush is definitely something else I'd recommend. (Which, of course, is very different from procrastinating!).

I'm very excited that five of my recent students are to have their work reproduced in a booklet for the first Norfolk Day! The five wrote about a childhood memory on my Writing From your Life Experience Course, and produced some vivid work which is to be displayed at Wensum Lodge, King Street on Friday 27th July. Do go along to take a look!

New Courses

I will be teaching quite a lot of courses for Norfolk County Council Adult Education this autumn - from beginner's fiction writing, life writing and writing historical fiction. Lots of variety!

Here's a link to the Adult Education website for more information and to enrol. The top 6 courses are to be taught by me.


I'm really looking forward to teaching a one-day Writing Historical Fiction Course at the Museum of Norwich (Bridewell Museum). As part of the course you will visit the museum collections as a springboard for fiction using historical era to shape and inspire characters, actions, dialogue and description. Here's the link to find out more or to enrol. There are only 8 places available due to space at the museum.


Enrolling onto a course via the Adult Education website can be a challenge to some! There is a phone number you can ring - 0344 800 8020 - if you need any help.

For those of you who are interested in Poetry - and hares! - I'm running a workshop called Poetry Writing, Hares at Norwich Castle on Thursday 23rd August 11.00am - 2.00pm. The drop-in workshop (no need to book) is part of the activities connected to the Norfolk Adult Education Hare based outside the Castle and is FREE, although I believe you may have to pay to get into the castle to take part.

I think that's it for now. As always, if you have any questions or comments, do get in touch.

Happy writing and have a great summer!

All the best.