Regular readers of the blog will be getting used to seeing Jennifer C Wilson guesting here.
Rightfully so, Jen has seen a lot of success recently – her novel ‘Kindred Spirits: Tower of London‘ has garnered excellent reviews and she’s been branching out into leading workshops.
As a member of Elementary Writers, Jennifer has always impressed me with her conscientious attitude to writing and her dedication to improving her craft. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Jen decided to use some of her annual leave from her day job to spend some time on the oldest residential writing course in the world at Swanwick.
Here’s Jen to tell us all about it. Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Jen!
Hi Victoria, and thanks for hosting me today.
For those who don’t know, Swanwick is an annual writers’ school, held in the Hayes Conference Centre, Derbyshire. Each year, there’s a mix of courses and entertainment, with plenty of opportunities to learn, be inspired and have fun.
This year, as a first-timer, I was a “White Badger”, but don’t let that fool you – you’re instantly as much a part of things as those who have been going for years. I’ve made friends with other newbies, as well as seasoned Swanwickers, and there’s a very strong chance of me becoming one of the latter – already hoping (intending) to be back in 2017.
So, what did I get up to? I took a four-part course in creative non-fiction, which I really do think will have a big influence on a lot of my writing. Also, lots of short courses, two-parters and single sessions. These covered everything from tips to stay motivated, to ensuring your point-of-view is right. There was also plenty of evening entertainment, including a range of speakers, some great mini plays (from page to stage in just a couple of days) and a specially-written pantomime, which was fantastic.
Believe me, though, with so many options, choosing which courses to attend is by far the hardest part of the week. Thank goodness they share all notes from across the week online!
It’s hard to write this post without sounding like I’m being paid, but here are my top five reasons I would recommend you to think about becoming a Swanwicker…
1. Meet new people. Writing can be lonely. Even with supportive partners / parents / friends, it can get tricky. Therefore, spending a whole week with like-minded people is a great opportunity. Mingle, natter, and get into a heated debate about your latest work, without a hint of guilt!
2. Learn new things. Because every day is a school day, and none of us can ever know everything.
3. Learn to do what you’re doing, better. See note for Point 2.
4. Be inspired. As well as during the workshops actually aimed to give you ideas, I have plenty of notes to follow up on now I’m home. No fear of the blank page for me, for a while…
5. Have fun. I have laughed and smiled so much this week. See also, Point 1…
My notebook from the week is practically full, my head is buzzing with ideas, and I’m feeling very chuffed with myself for making myself go.
I’ll be back next year, and will hopefully see you there!