What can we do for you in these strange times?

 In All About Writing, Newsletters

How can we help you? This is the question that’s been occupying us for the past week.

We’re determined to assist our community find the full meaning contained in the Chinese word for “crisis” – not just danger, but opportunity. So we’re here to support you, in the only way we know how.

Rather than focus on what we can’t do during this period of global lockdown, we’re determined to concentrate instead on what we can do to feed your spirits.

While you’re self-isolating in your homes, instead of going stir-crazy and murdering your family, we want you to feel that

  • you’ve achieved something worthwhile,
  • you’ve learnt something new and lasting,
  • you’ve done something you’ve always wanted, but never had time for,
  • and that, instead of more isolated, you feel more connected to a global community.

So we put our heads together and came up with what we can offer you, our beloved community, to make your lives a little brighter, from now through June.

Firstly, a gift…

Here’s a gift that we hope will inspire you. It’s a digital book of short stories, compiled from one of our Short Story Weekends.

Besides the stories, it contains notes on writing successful short stories – and prompts to get you started on your own. Click here to download a PDF version, and click here for the Kindle version available for free until 27 March.


Free Story Development Webinar

We’ve brought this webinar forward to the 25 March since it provides a good place to start your creative journey. And it won’t cost you anything. Consider it our helping hand in these difficult times.

How do writers develop stories, from that first germ of an idea to the fully-fledged narrative with an intriguing beginning, a solid middle and a climactic resolution?

Jo-Anne and Richard will take writers through this most creative of all processes. They’ll focus on the skills and the choices involved in character and world-building, the development of tension between the protagonist and antagonist, and the overall structure of the story.

We end with a flourish on the resolution: what can you do to make the climax of your story as satisfying as possible? Register here.


Community Writing Saturdays

We are introducing a virtual workshop every Saturday through April, which we hope will foster a sense of global community through creative action.

Through video conferencing, you’ll be connected to writers around the world. We’ll start with a brief discussion on an aspect of writing, then you’ll be given a prompt and the chance to write.

Places will be limited, so each participant (who wants it) will receive feedback on their writing.

Workshops will be conducted in a spirit of fun,  by people who find joy in creative endeavour. This will be a safe space for like-minded people to practise their creativity. All comment will be – according to our motto – honest but kind.

Community Writing Saturdays will be run on April 4, 11, 18 and 25. UK time 10am – 12 noon. SA time 11am – 1pm. Sign up for one, or all four. 


Thirty Day Hike Through Writing Country – huge Corona discount

We have slashed the price of this self-administered writing course by 30% – because we want to give everyone the chance to build a daily writing discipline. We firmly believe that focusing on something creative every day revives the spirits and maintains mental health.

Starting today (or whenever suits you), you’ll receive an email every morning with a brief overview of a particular writing skill each day for thirty days – and a short writing exercise to consolidate your understanding. It’s a daily dose of motivation, inspiration and writing practice.

All for much less than a cup of coffee. And if you’d like feedback on your final assignment, then just add the price of a couple of slices of chocolate cake! Sign up here.

Here’s what two recent participants said of it:

“[Feedback on the final assignment] was very kind and constructive, and I’ll definitely work in the critique for another draft. I thoroughly enjoyed the course – I think it’s been a great help with my writing, and I hope to do some of the other courses too!” – Jennifer.
“Firstly, I want to thank you for … such comprehensive and meticulous feedback on my final assignment. The way you gave feedback made me feel like a genuine author receiving input that was not only constructive and helpful, but overall, it was kind. The discipline of the daily exercises for 30 days was a great incentive to just write and be creative.” – Leanne.

Something for kids and parents to tackle together – Power of Writing

Our introductory Power of Writing Course is a four-module course suitable for older children and teenagers, as well as adults.

Start in April (or any subsequent month) and develop a more creative writing style by learning the tools to enhance your writing voice. It will encourage active observational skills and introduce you to the concept of showing rather than telling. Two for one offer available for family members doing the course together. Use the coupon code POWfamily. Sign up here.



Our coaching programmes will carry you through the month

Each of our Coaching programmes takes place over an intensive two-week period – with advice and feedback every day.

Focus on Scenes begins on 4 May. Any story is as strong as its scenes. We tackle ten different aspects of writing to write compelling scenes.

The Logic of Story, which launches 18 May, focuses on the glue which holds a story together. Each day we will look at a different aspect of writing necessary for building a story – from its characters and the structure of its scenes, to sentence formation.


Online Creative Writing Course

Join a global group of writers to learn all you’ll ever need to write a book – fiction or creative non-fiction. Starting 1 June, this is a truly comprehensive course – designed to give you both the skills and the confidence to tackle the book you’ve been yearning to write.

It’s a lively and interactive course, with live webinars, links and clips, and feedback twice in every module – to make certain this will not be a solitary learning experience.

A new module is released each week for ten weeks, filled with information, exercises and an assignment to entrench the skills learnt. Early bird special available now.

New virtual face-to-face Creative Writing Course

Imagine you were learning face-to-face, but in the comfort and safety of your home.

Do you doubt your ability to maintain the discipline for an online course? This way, you can learn in real-time from a tutor you can engage with and listen to. This is our famous face-to-face course, offered with discussion, chat, and feedback – and notes to keep afterwards.  All we can’t provide is the glass of wine. You’ll have to pour your own.

From 1 June, Richard will offer this course through video conferencing each Monday and Thursday evening for four weeks. Numbers will be extremely limited – we intend to keep to the numbers we can handle in a face-to-face environment – so that each person will receive attention and feedback in every class. Email us at trish@allaboutwritingcourses.com to register your interest.

Cape Town face-to-face (or virtual) Creative Writing Course

Jo-Anne will offer the same course, as usual from 1 June – either in our Plumstead venue, or virtually, depending on the situation.

We certainly hope Capetonians will feel safe enough to attend this course by then. The teaching venue disenfected after every use and no-one enters the premises without first sanitising their hands.

Please don’t feel hesitant about signing up. We will make a plan, even if we are still in total lockdown. Jo-Anne will continue to teach this course every Monday and Thursday evening – but through video conferencing.

We can easily set you up for video conferencing, no matter how technophobic you are. We will talk you through it. It’s a very simple process.

Virtual Writing Weekend: How to put together a story

In place of our annual Stow-on-the-Wold writing weekend from 26 to 28 June, we have introduced an online weekend course from which participants will emerge with the first draft of a short story.

We’ll run you through the process of developing story, from the initial impulse – that virus of an idea, through the building both of characters and the world of the story, to the step-by-step raising of the stakes towards the satisfying crunch of a resolution.

All in the space of just two days – mixing theory with furious creation, with full feedback from two experienced writing facilitators.

To go on the waiting list, please email us at trish@allaboutwritingcourses.com.

Community Interaction

Please don’t forget that you have two platforms at your disposal for engaging with your fellow writers and connecting online.

Both the Facebook Alumni page and our Ning teaching platform will allow you to chat, share experiences or writing with each other. If you wish to start your own group on Ning, you’re welcome to do so.

So that’s what we can offer you between now and June.

We hope it will give you something to focus on over the bleak months. As health experts are urging, this is the time to take as much care of our mental health and well-being as the physical.

You have more time now. It may be unwanted. It may create anxiety. But it’s better to use that time for something meaningful.

Writing Challenge

We’ve announced the winners of our December/January Writing Challenge on our blog. Huge congrats to Georgia Hardiman, and runners up Colleen Saunders, Liza Sears, Kate Francis, Samantha Collins, Yageshree Moodley, and, finally, Bindi Davies. Read their brilliant entries here.

Don’t forget that our February/March Writing Challenge is still open for entries until midnight on 31 March, the winner is awarded a literary assessment on 5000 words of writing worth R 2750 / £ 150 or a voucher to the same value to use on one of our courses or programmes. You can read the guidelines here.

And finally, on the lighter side…

Here are some famous lines from classic novels, rewritten for social distancing (culled from Lithub.com).

The Bell Jar: It was a queer, pandemic spring, the spring they cancelled all the orgies, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.

The Great Gatsby: In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. “Whenever you feel like going to a restaurant,” he told me, “just remember there are people in this world whose immune systems haven’t had all the advantages yours has had.”

Jane Eyre: There was every possibility of taking a walk that day, as long as we kept six feet between us and the others on the path.

Pride and Prejudice: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be hoarding toilet paper.

Stay safe, wash your hands, and keep writing!
The All About Writing Team

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