December Newsletter: Unveiling our offerings for 2023

 In All About Writing, How to write a book, Newsletters

Another year has whizzed by and we’d like to thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts, for sticking with us, not just through the past three difficult years, but through the 15 years we’ve been in existence.

We’ll be closing shop tomorrow for ten days, although we will be reading your emails, if you need to reach us. We re-open on 3 January, when we start our Thirty-Day Bootcamp, designed to launch you into the discipline of a new writing year. Do join us – there’s still time.

Here’s a taste of what we’ll be offering you next year, to partner you into a new year of writing. And if you’re still struggling to find last-minute Christmas presents, here’s a whole stocking full.

No matter what you’ve achieved this year, look forward rather than back with regret. Forget what you didn’t get done. Look to what you can achieve – with us to support you and hold your hand.

Our first offering is for everyone

The 30-day Writing Bootcamp starts on 3 January.

What it involves

Each day, you’ll receive writing advice, followed by an exercise designed to be dashed off in thirty minutes.

Upgrade and you’ll receive full feedback on your final piece of writing. And every week, you can join a Zoom session with Jo-Anne or Richard to ask the questions and raise the issues that have plagued you during your week of writing.

Why do it
  • It suits complete beginners as much as experienced writers
  • It’ll boost you into the writing year
  • And help you develop a daily writing discipline
  • You’ll be part of a supportive writing community
  • If you’re stuck, it will get you writing again, without pressure
  • It provides daily advice from writers who understand what you need
  • It will hone your craft and refresh your skills
  • It will introduce creativity into a busy life
  • It will allow you to explore your creative side
  • You’ll have a chance, once a week, to ask All (the questions you’ve ever had) About Writing

‘Thanks for organising the best writing bootcamp ever. I think the real gift that the course imparts is forcing one to write every day… to the point that it’s become a habit for me (yay!).’ Dr Adalbert Ernst, currently completing an MA Creative Writing (while fielding his day-job as an anaesthetist and caring for a young child).

For those who’d like a break, see the world and explore their creativity

That’s everyone, right? We’re offering a number of breaks in different parts of the world. Non-writing partners are welcome:

Karoo Memoir Workshop and Retreat – 14 to 21 April

Stow-on-the-Wold weekend workshop – 21 to 23 April and 24 to 26 November

Croatian break and creative retreat – 13 to 27 May

Venice Writing Retreat – 17 October to 1 November

What they involve

The Karoo Memoir Weekend and Retreat offers a workshop in the art of writing memoir, by the two Joannes, Hichens and Richards, followed by a five-day retreat, which will allow you to get started under their watchful eyes.

Stow-on-the-Wold Weekend Workshop allows you to spend a weekend in this quintessential English market town, learn more about writing and develop your own projects, with the guidance of Richard Beynon.

Croatian break and creative retreat will embed you in the unspoilt Istrian countryside. You’ll be treated to writing discussions and offered one-on-one help with writing, conceptualising projects, or developing new ideas. Afternoon outings will spirit you to coastal and medieval hilltop villages, and allow you to explore the Istrian way of life and meet local artisans. Stay for one week or two.

Venice Writing Retreat will spirit you to one of the most stimulating cities in the world, inspiration for writers through the ages. Now, in its seventh year, our famous retreat will see you cossetted in a 16th century palazzo, which retains the essential flavour of Venice, but offers comfort and convenience. Apart from daily discussions and one-on-one sessions to work on your writing or brainstorm your ideas, your time is your own, to write, think, dream and explore the city. Stay for one week or, since you’re there, why not stay for two? (You’ll be sorry if you don’t.)

Why attend these breaks

Barrydale workshop and retreat

  • You’ll learn the basic building blocks of memoir
  • You’ll get started on your project with expert help
  • If you’re already writing, you’ll get one-one-one advice and feedback
  • You’ll get away from your responsibilities and breathe clean Karoo air
  • It will give you the gift of creative time to explore your own story

Thank you JoAnnes for a beautiful guided journey. Thank you to all the participants who deeply enriched my life with all of your formidable stories. I learned so much. More please!’ Balu Nivisen, Cape Town.


  • You’ll receive down-to-earth advice on writing well
  • You’ll practise your craft
  • You will be able to advance or develop your on-going writing project
  • You’ll exercise your creative muscles and recharge
  • You’ll experience life in a historic English market town
  • It will provide the gift of creative time, just for you.

‘After two years of tumultuous personal change that derailed my writing, it was fantastic to spend time in such beautiful surroundings, with such a knowledgeable, perceptive and generous tutor. The balance between exposition, exercises and feedback works really well to embed the learning, and even in such a short time I felt my writing muscle returning to form. We were spoiled rotten … and, whilst tired at the end, I have returned full of ideas and inspiration. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and definitely intend doing it again! HIGHLY recommended.’ Liz Dewing, United Kingdom.

Croatian retreat

  • It offers quiet countryside in which to write and think, recharge and regain lost creativity
  • Centrally located accommodation, well placed for afternoon explorations of the region
  • Stimulating discussions about the art, and craft, of writing
  • One-on-one sessions with skilled writing trainers, focused on you and your work
  • Good food, comfortable accommodation and a heated pool
  • Country walks and a nearby coastal inlet in which to swim
  • The chance to meet local artisans and experience the Istrian way of life

‘Booking for the retreat in Istria will go down as one of my all-time brilliant ideas! AAW created an environment that was perfect for research and to refill creative batteries, with morning discussions, one on one mentoring and a general ambiance of ease and idea creation. I can’t rave about the location enough – from the beautiful, modern, hot and cold running everything villa; to the afternoon jaunts to Roman amphitheatres; ancient hilltop villages and Instagram worthy sea-side towns. Getting to have my “mentoring” sessions while bobbing in the sparkling, clear sea are moments I will treasure forever.’ Penny Castle, writer, coach, stand-up comic, Greenwich, UK

Venice Writing Retreat

  • It’s held in one of the most inspiring cities in the world
  • Daily talks and discussions on writing will stimulate and inform you
  • One-on-one time with skilled mentors
  • Focused attention on you and your project
  • Honest but kind advice aimed at making you the best writer you can be
  • Time to write furiously, to recharge creativity, to plan or brainstorm a project
  • Time to explore, and take in the art and music just steps from the palazzo
  • Time out of your busy life
  • And just because. You owe it to yourself – life without creative outlet is half a life.

‘It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had. “Every writer I know has trouble writing,” said Joseph Heller, who took eight years to pen Catch 22. For many, an overseas writing course may seem like an extravagance, or, worse, an exercise in distraction. I found the opposite. For a writer, the Venice retreat is a place to run away with yourself, to find the thing that makes writing easy.’ Alice Inggs, publisher and writer.

If you can’t take a break, but are serious about your writing

Our flagship Creative Writing Course – starts 6 February, 5 June, and 6 November

Crash Course in Screenwriting – starts 27 February

Hero’s Journey Course  – starts 12 July

What they involve

Creative Writing

There are two versions of our flagship course. The first runs in real time every Monday and Thursday evening for five weeks, in an exclusive group of only six. We’ll teach and discuss with you, answer your questions and explain where you’re confused.

The online version allows you to work through notes at your own speed, with plenty of film clips and links to make them interesting – over five weeks or five months, depending on your work and life pressures.

Whichever version you choose, the course will teach you everything you need to know to write fiction or creative non-fiction – everything we wish we’d known 20 years ago.

Every module contains a discussion exercise and an assignment, with personal feedback on all.

Hero’s Journey Course

Licensed by the Joseph Campbell Foundation, this course involves weekly Zoom sessions for eight weeks, on Wednesday evenings. You’ll be given notes and links, which are then discussed in the sessions. Each evening ends with an exercise and personal feedback. These are exciting sessions, full of invention and positive reinforcement of the best features of your ideas and writing.

Crash Course in Screenwriting

This course runs online over five weeks and will teach you the basic skills to write film and TV scripts like a professional. Three live Zoom sessions are included.

Why do these courses

Creative Writing

  • This course changes lives. We know this because we’ve been told so many times.
  • If you’re a beginner, you’ll learn to write creatively
  • If you’re more experienced, you’ll up your game immeasurably
  • If you’re stuck, you’ll gain insight to get you going again
  • It will train your eye to tackle your second draft with a more professional understanding of what works
  • You’ll learn the craft and the secrets that will enhance your natural talent
  • It’s equally applicable for writers of fiction or creative non-fiction

’The creative course was fantastic – it works for a beginner or for someone coming back into writing after a long break as I was. Writing, like any art form isn’t just a creative process, it’s also a craft … [with] techniques that make the writing a lot more impactful and readable. Once I understood them and started practising, my writing improved. The notes in this course are really good, everything is backed up with examples. I would recommend it, it doesn’t disappoint.’ Amanda Okill, Somerset UK, currently working on a novel through our mentoring programme.

Crash Course in Screenwriting

  • The course will lay a foundation of understanding of the range of key skills you need to write a script.
  • It will excite you about the infinite possibilities of writing for the screen.
  • It will deepen your understanding of and appreciation for film and television drama by revealing the secrets that attend the birth of tv and film drama.
  • If you’re already a television professional, then it’ll give you insight into the challenges and potential of creative screenwriting.

‘I finally met Richard whom I have heard a lot of good things about – the guy is a legend in the TV and Film Industry. I realised what I was doing wrong as a storyliner and what I should be aware of as a scriptwriter when approaching writing scenes.’ Nonhlanhla Simelane, writer and storyliner, Scandal.

Hero’s Journey Course

  • Campbell’s Hero’s Journey® template gives you greater insights into story structure and character than you’ve ever enjoyed before
  •  It can help when you’re stuck
  •  Applicable to fiction, creative non-fiction or screenwriting
  •  The course helps you erect the “tentpoles” of your story
  •  Personal and instant feedback during “live” Zoom sessions helps bed each lesson down
  • Life-long access to our notes and resources give you a permanent archive you can turn to whenever you need to refresh your understanding of this essential story tool

‘This course helped me “unravel a set of jumbled thoughts and systemise them into a cohesive and gripping real life story.’ Jan Glazewski, who this year published his memoir, Blood and Silver (NB Publishers).

You have the skills and are ready to write

Mentoring Programme  – We’re taking applications now for our January start

Writing Circle – Starts in late January

How it works


You buy a block of hours, which are valid for up to six or twelve months. The hours can be used to receive feedback and personal notes on your writing, as well as brainstorming help and advice on developing ideas. You’ll take part in a free monthly Zoom, to ask questions, discuss your work and talk about the way forward.

Writers’ Circle

We’ll be tweaking this programme for next year, but you’ll be given the space to interact with other writers and you’ll be invited to join a monthly Zoom meeting, which you can use to discuss your writing and receive feedback from Jo-Anne or Richard.

Why you should take part


  • Writing is lonely and scary, no matter how experienced you are.
  • Mentoring is suitable for inexperienced writers, who need someone to hold their hand
  • Experienced and published writers will appreciate being accountable to someone else, and the value of another eye
  • You’ll have skilled advice on the way forward
  • It’s flexible enough to include brainstorming, extensive and detailed notes on your writing, and advice as to structure, character development, etc.

‘I shudder to think what my manuscript would have looked like without the Mentoring Programme and Jo-Anne and Richard’s brilliant editorial pens.’ Lisa-Anne Julien, joint winner of the 2022 UJ Debut Prize for South African Writing in English, for her novel, If you save me.

Writers’ Circle

  • Writing is lonely and scary
  • This programme offers companionship and monthly advice
  • It’s inexpensive

‘I joined the Writers Circle because I thought it would be fun to have monthly resting posts on the lonely road of writing. A friendly inn on way, with good conversation, a glass of wine and a place to discuss current sticking points. It became much more than that. I met fellow travellers, was able to deep dive into writing questions with JoAnne and Richard and came away each time renewed and reinvigorated. I’m doing this again next year. Shirlane Douglas, Johannesburg.

You’ve written a manuscript and don’t know where to go from there

Book doctoring  – email us to discuss your manuscript

How does it work

Richard, Jo-Anne, or one of our associates, Joanne Hichens or Michele Rowe, will provide a full professional assessment of where your manuscript works and how it could be improved. They can provide different levels of assessment, depending on the stage your manuscript has reached, and your pocket: full assessment and edit with in-text notes and a report; a structural report aimed at helping you tackle a structural rewrite; mini-assessment of synopsis and 5000 words – which can highlight many of the manuscript’s strengths and weaknesses.

Why apply
  • Everyone needs a professional eye on a manuscript
  • Publishers and agents only want to see manuscripts that have already been brought to a publishable standard
  • Every writer produces several drafts. An assessment can produce a road-map for the rewrite process
  • If you’re self-publishing, you want to produce a book of the highest quality

‘I did the Creative Writing Course, which was invaluable in refining my narrative techniques. I followed this with a full manuscript assessment which was a brilliant way to sharpen my final manuscript, iron out the creases, and find a form for my work that does it justice. All of this helped to get my work up to the level for publication. I highly recommend the courses and assessments from All About Writing.’ Dr Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon, whose book, Blinded City (Pan Macmillan) launched this year.

You’re a complete beginner, and want to dip your toe in before diving

Power of Writing – The first Monday of every month

Indispensable Guide to Creative Writing – Start when it suits you

How they work

Power of Writing

Four online modules will be released over four weeks. Each contains notes and an exercise. Personal feedback is given on every module.

Indispensable Guide to Creative Writing

You’ll receive a fresh lesson in your inbox every day for 20 days. Each lesson consists of a video and a point-form summary for reference. This is a self-guided course, with the option to receive feedback on four of the exercises.

Why do these courses

Power of Writing

  • It will help you develop a more creative writing style
  • You’ll be given the tools to enhance your writing voice
  • It encourages active observational skills
  • It will introduce you to the concept of showing rather than telling.

Indispensable Guide to Creative Writing

  • If you’re a beginner, this course will introduce you to the essentials of your craft.
  • If you’re a more experienced writer, it will remind you of the fundamental principles of good writing.
  • If you’re stuck or blocked, it will help you discover the problem and how to solve it.
  • No matter how new or experienced a writer you are, it will give you new ideas and a fresh outlook.

You’re a keen writer, but can’t afford courses and assessments

We always make an effort to provide free offerings that give value. If you take advantage of them all, we can guarantee your writing will improve. Greatly.

  • Our writing challenges always come with writing tips. Each gives you the chance to win an assessment or a course. Go through the archive, read the tips, and try a challenge every week, for great practice and discipline.
  • Free monthly webinars … and video replays of any you’ve missed
  • Free downloads on various aspects of writing
  • Social media – ask us questions
  • Monday Motivations, and other blogs
  • Search through our website to find help on any writing problem. Type in “point of view”, for example, and see what comes up.

No matter who you are, or what you need, we have the understanding and expertise to provide you with the skills, hold your hand and give you objective, compassionate and knowledgeable advice on the way forward.

We hope to walk you forward into a new, and brighter writing year in 2023.

Happy writing

Jo-Anne, Richard and the All About Writing team

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