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Arvon residential writing courses: review

The Arvon foundation offers some of the world’s top writing courses.  Find out why here.

Ahead, in the kitchen, everyone seems to be laughing.  As I approach, the noise swells.  I push the door open to find ten people sitting around a long wooden table, drinking tea and eating lemon drizzle cake.  In an instant, the din dies down as everyone turns to look at the newcomer – me.

What have I left myself in for?

The prospect of attending a writing course holds both fascination and dread for would-be authors.  I recently attended the Arvon Foundation’s “Editing Fiction: Turning First Drafts into Publishable Books” at The Hurst in Shropshire.  So what actually happens on a writing course?  Do they help your writing?  And what if you don’t get on with the other participants?

I long to sit longer on this bench in the grounds of the Hurst

The Arvon course I attended, in November 2018, lasted from Monday afternoon to Saturday morning.  It consisted of morning workshops, followed by afternoons free for writing, walking, or attending 1:1 seminars with the tutors.  Workshops included sessions on how to edit a novel (including the advice “enjoy a moment (more…)

Skyros writing courses: where inspiration comes from

Learning to write in the Greek sun.  If you want a great writing course, and wonderful weather, Skyros is where inspiration comes from.

I recently attended an outstanding writing course in Shropshire.  I blogged about the experience in my piece: Arvon residential writing courses: review (links in bold italics are to other posts on this blog).

Researching for my Arvon post, I found this piece, commissioned long ago by The Boston Globe but never published, about a rather good writing course on the Greek island of Skyros.  It follows the rules on structure set out in my piece The 4 elements of the perfect article: Nut-grafs and Cosmic Kickers.  It sums up the Skyros course well.

Dancing for New Orleans

Ten would-be writers sit on a terrace high above the Aegean. We’re lapping up the bright sun, the cool breeze, and advice on how to get our books published.  Suddenly we’re interrupted: up the hill, participants in another course are venting their emotions in a cacophony of eerie howling. In response, a donkey brays: a shocking, raucous noise.  Everyone laughs.

The entrance to the Skyros Centre is low key

There’s a huge amount of laughter on a Skyros holiday. That’s the idea: by combining holistic holidays, writers’ courses and a Greek island, operator Skyros holds out the promise of both self-improvement and self-discovery in an idyllic setting. But how well do the different elements fit together?  The answer is: better than you’d think.

You sense the island of Skyros is something special before the ferry from the Greek mainland even moors.  As ship nears shore, music floats across the sea.  A cafe on the waterfront is playing “Also Sprach Zarathustra”.  (more…)

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