July newsletter: upcoming courses, community news, writing challenge and more

 In All About Writing, Newsletters

We at Allaboutwriting are celebrating creativity. Through our offerings and our news this month, we are reaching out to like-minded souls who long for something more – for the imagination which takes us beyond the everyday, to the sublime.

In this way, we can all help create a strong community which spreads creativity for its own sake. Reading and writing have been proven to grow empathy and make us think differently about ourselves and others.

Writing makes us better humans. Let’s grow our community of writers and spread the infinitely valuable ability of humans to create something precious where nothing existed but an idea.

What better way to do this than to develop the discipline of a daily writing practice. Next month we’re running our immensely popular Thirty Day Writing Workout from 1 to 30 August.

Give us an hour of your day for a month and we guarantee we’ll develop your writing – and you, as a creative being. Each day, you will receive writing advice and an assignment – to which we will respond with comments and, once a week, full feedback.

These workouts have always been over-subscribed, so book early to be certain of your place. If you’ve done one before, be assured that this course has entirely new daily challenges. Here’s what people thought of the last one:

Thank you so very, very much for your inputs, feedback and  encouragement over the past 30 days! You are all quite amazing, special and talented and I thank you with great awe. That goes for everyone on the course as well!  I loved the submissions , the humour and the multitude of perspectives around. It has been an enormous learning journey for me, one that I hope will keep going for a long time. -Silvia Bailes

Thank you to Richard and Jo-Anne for stimulating exercises, encouraging comments that always seem to hit the mark, and a wonderful course design. I really recommend the 30-day challenge straight after the eight week writing course as the combination got me from thinking about and maybe to a daily writing habit. It is a gift for a lifetime. Thank you to all community members on this course. I have enjoyed seeing all of our progress over this month. Lets keep on writing. – Shirlane Douglas

I’ve really enjoyed this programme, have learnt a great deal and have become a much more criical reader. I have also found, to my surprise, that I quite enjoy the act of writing. Thanks for the carefully planned curriculum and the positive and constructive feedback. I’m going to miss these morning challenges. – Jo-Anne Duggan

I just want to say thank you so much for this fantastic course.  It has been a wonderful journey jam packed with so much information which will last me a long time. …it was fantastic and extremely valuable.  It’s been a privilege working with both of you and your caring and nurturing guidance was much appreciated. – Hazel Venter

In just two months, we can transport you to the most inspiring writing venue of all, where you can walk in the footsteps of all the writers who have flocked to Venice through the generations.

We have two rooms left on our Venice Writing Retreat from 6 to 13 September.

Just being there is an inspiration. Walking the streets is a celebration of the human aspiration to create beauty. Our small community is encouraging and warm in its focus on your individual writing: whether you have an existing writing project, need help in developing one, or simply want to explore your creativity under our guidance.

An added reason to attend this year is the 57th Venice Biennale, where you can celebrate the creativity of wacky performance art, the big names and lesser known artists at the world’s most prestigious contemporary exhibition of art.

If you live in South Africa, take advantage of the exchange rate. You couldn’t ask for better, and who knows how long it will last.   

Here’s what Joanna Foster had to say about last year’s retreat: What a dream Venice will fast become. It was such a hugely successful adventure … And as for the mentors –   the morning meeting and the one to ones were very important,  I learned so much from my sessions.   

This year, we are also offering a Stow-on-the-Wold Writing Weekend, in the Cotswolds, United Kingdom from 22 to 24 September. In this area of outstanding natural beauty, you can receive guidance and try your hand at creative exercises designed to grow you as a writer. We have only one place left, so speak now…

It’s time to honour those writers who have excelled: the Winner of our Monthly Writing Competition, who will receive a gift token to the independent bookshop of their choice, and our runners up.

Here’s last month’s challenge: You’ve got to the end of a journey – literal or metaphorical – and what you discover there is very different from what you anticipated. Write a scene of no more than 250 words telling us of your surprise/disappointment/exultation.

It was a close-run thing, but in the end, we decided the prize had to go to Kristy-Anne Carlisle for her subtle expression of a marriage in trouble, without any superfluous explanation.

A close runner-up is Jane Butters for her story, which is funny and clever and makes good use of the details of the environment to show her character’s state of mind. Great last line.

Other stories worth an honourable mention were written by Mischa Ruby Fisher and Judy Woodbourne, for their use of specific detail, and Anton Roodt for his restraint and his unexplained assumptions. We were interested to see that two writers used birth as the journey. See how differently Janet Lopez and Pamela Williams handled it.

In the spirit of creating a creative community without borders, we would like to co-ordinate our monthly competition with an international flash fiction contest. Click here for the July Writing Challenge and the accompanying Writing Tip.

In our Community News this month…

  • We would like to announce the opening of our Allaboutwriting shop, which already displays four creative offerings:

Our August Thirty Day Writing Workout and our entry-level online course, The Power of Writing. Also offered for sale are places on our Cape Town Creative Saturday, a morning of writing, community and fun, to be held at the Casa Labia on 5 August.

And what is a new shop without a very special offer…

In November last year, we ran a Short Story Weekend, during which our participants, online and face to face, were challenged to produce the draft of a short story in a weekend.

The results of that weekend have been published in our very own anthology, The Eleventh Month, a pdf copy of which we are offering in our new shop for just R25. All proceeds will be donated to Short Story Day Africa, which does such excellent work in spreading the creative gospel across Africa.

  • To promote the book, we are publishing a series of Q&As with the short story writers. Here is what Merle Grace has to say.
  • And lastly, we would like to run a series of photographs of members of our community writing in interesting or unusual places. Please send us pictures.

And here, to inspire you, is one of our very own Richard Beynon and Michele Rowe, mentoring the participants in our How to Write a Screenplay course, from Richard’s headquarters for the next few months: Patience, the narrowboat.

Happy writing,



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