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Whether you’re looking to pursue a writing career or are already a published pen(wo)man, workshops are a great way to broaden your skills and develop techniques. These are the top courses for cultivating ideas, giving your words extra pizzazz and making you a literary pro.
1. Adult Learning, Brooklyn Public Library, New York
A literary stalwart in New York, this public library offers free courses several times a month. Check the website to see when to attend workshops covering all things creative writing, storytelling and poetry, each taught amid the library’s impressive book collection.
2. Masterclass, online
This instructional website has countless trailblazers offering insights and lessons into their respective fields, from cookery classes with Gordon Ramsey to acting lessons with Natalie Portman. £170 per year provides access to all courses. For literary workshops, choose between Margaret Atwood, Malcolm Gladwell, James Patterson and other established writers for 23 lessons covering how to start the creative process, how to engage readers and manipulative information, and how to formulate a gripping plot.
As the Unesco City of Literature 2017 and one of the UK’s most creative hubs, Manchester is a great place to improve your writing skills. Offering lessons from leading writers such as Jeanette Winterson CBE and Ian McGuire, this postgraduate creative writing course has an impressive alumni including bestselling writer Sophie Hannah and Susan Barker. Naturally, you are expected to have achieved a sufficient grade in a relevant undergraduate degree.
4. Gotham Writers Workshop, New York City and online
One of New York’s longest running programmes, Gotham Writers Workshop hosts regular classes involving workshops, exercises and seminars. Don’t worry if you miss out on the sign up date, the workshop offers drop-in sessions. Alternatively check the website for the free weekly class.
If you already have some experience writing and want to broaden your scope, why not try this short course in travel writing? Learn how to evoke a sense of place, structure your story and develop observation skills to create engaging and inspiring content. Alternatively, try the Freelance Writing course, which provides a foundation in researching, writing and pitching skills for magazines and newspapers, taught over eight weekly lessons.
The recent success of writers such as Sally Rooney and Anna Burns have placed Ireland and Northern Ireland back on the literary map. Dublin has several institutions offering writing courses, but the Irish Writers Centre is one of the best, with classes on offer such as poetry, fiction and screenwriting.
Aimed at writers who have already completed introductory courses, this online workshop teaches novel writing from initial story creation and plot development, to complex characters and subverting reader expectations. Learn how to critically engage with your own writing in order to ensure its commercial viability and appeal to a mass audience.
Since 1929 Faber & Faber has published some of the world’s leading writers, including T. S. Eliot and Ted Hughes. Attend this comprehensive six-month writing course to learn how to effectively structure and develop your novel. Courses take place in London’s literary epicentre, Bloomsbury, with talks from Faber & Faber’s commissioning editors and opportunities to showcase your work to literary agents at the end of the course. The workshop is available as an evening course, with 22 two-hour sessions every Wednesday.
9. Creative Writing Program, Boston University, Boston
With alumni including Anne Sexton, this course is sure to teach you invaluable writing skills. One of the oldest and most prestigious courses in the US, this university offers a variety of classes spanning from fiction and poetry to drama and criticism. It’s notoriously intense, so you’ll be expected to work hard, but you’re sure to gain invaluable experience and world-class teaching.
10. Poets House, New York
What better place to be inspired than in teaching rooms overlooking the Hudson? New York’s Poets House provides one-day classes or six-week courses covering specific poetry-related topics. No application is needed, just enter on the website.
Head to Cambridge University to take part in its Creative Writing Summer Programme and stay in one of the university’s historic colleges. Develop existing writing skills with either fiction or non-fiction classes, broaden your ability to write for different genres and styles, and learn how to critically reflect on your own work with the help of experienced tutors. With the course being at one of the world’s top universities, you’ll have to put in a lot of hard work – expect evenings to be filled with lots of reading and essay writing.
12. Guardian Masterclasses, The Guardian, London
Offering lectures packed full of important information, The Guardian’s Masterclasses are a great way to broaden your knowledge and get to know the creative industry. The popular course titled How to Start Your Career as a Freelance Journalist is run by features writer and columnist Coco Khan, and teaches how to spot a good story, pitch to editors and get properly paid for your work. If poetry is more up your street, try Poetry: A Practical Guide, a one-day course run by Jem Poster, Cambridge University’s creative writing tutor.
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