Grrrls

Nadia Henderson Write like a Grrrl: London

I signed up for the six week Write like a Grrrl course in 2014 because I hadn’t written any fiction in a while and knew that I wanted to get back into it. However, I was really lacking in motivation.

The course was good value and I really liked the idea of a women’s writing group but on the first day I was very nervous! I’m not the best at speaking to new people, especially about my own writing. But everyone was so friendly and the atmosphere was so relaxed and encouraging.

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It became so rewarding to attend this course every week. I loved having the opportunity to hang out with like-minded women and Kerry created a really welcoming and fun atmosphere and did a great job of making me feel good about where I was with my writing.

I really liked how the sessions were planned – new elements of the story building process explained each week and this was really helpful. We were able to work on each piece (dialogue, characterisation, etc.) separately, building up the story. For me, the highlight was the dialogue exercise, it made me approach writing dialogue completely differently.

By the end of the course, I felt very inspired to continue, and had a renewed passion for short story writing in particular. The course gave me a much-needed confidence boost, too, and I realised my writing isn’t actually that bad!

These days. I am working hard to write (almost) every day, and WLAG definitely pushed me to consider the importance of brief daily writing sessions. I’m also a lot more aware of what to aim for and what to avoid in my writing.

Write like a Grrrl offered a no-pressure, encouraging and fun environment that got me feeling excited about writing. I’d recommend it for women at all writing levels – whether you just have a mild interest you’d like to nurture or want to rekindle your creativity.

Read more of the wonderful Nadia at: Not So Quiet Girl

To book an Ignite or The Next Step course, see For Books’ Sake

Sian Norris Write like a Grrrl: Bristol day course

I’d never done any creative writing courses or workshops before – I’ve been writing for years but have never had any formal training! And so I thought if I was going to do it, I wanted to do it in an all-woman space, and obviously I write for FBS sometimes and so I trusted that if it was connected to them, it would be good.

I was hoping to meet other writers in the city and chat to them about writing and the work they were doing. At the point of the course I was about 2/3 in to the second draft of my novel and I kind of wanted a bit of a boost – some chance to check in that what I was doing was going in the right direction, and to try and get some pointers about how to keep going.

The morning of the day course I was really excited – a bit nervous, and hopeful that I was going to learn new skills and meet new people!

The whole day was great. The pace was perfect – we covered a lot of information but it never felt too much or overwhelming, or that it was dragging on. The dynamic of the group was really great – people willing to get involved and pitch in. I really enjoyed the dialogue exercise – I think this is the thing I have found most useful going forward. It really made me think about how to create atmosphere and tension.

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I found the discussion about barriers to writing and how we overcome them was absolutely vital. It felt everyone was very honest about their own barriers, difficulties, and the strategies we shared to overcome them really gave me a boost and helped me focus on the ‘excuses’ I make not to write and just get on and do it.

By the end of the day I felt brilliant! Really confident and focused on how I was going to get my novel finished. It was such an inspiring and exciting day.
The course has had a huge impact on my writing. Firstly because I have completely changed my ‘writing timetable’. I’ve stopped waiting for the ‘perfect time’ to write and am just getting on and doing it. It’s really motivated me to keep going and the progress I’ve made with my novel has been phenomenal. The techniques I learnt around dialogue and setting have also added a new layer of richness to my writing – where before things were feeling a bit flat they now have a lot more energy and emotion to them.

But I think the main thing was just realising that I needed to get on with writing and get into a routine – it has made a huge difference to me and I feel so much more confident that I’m going to get the 3rd draft of my novel finished. I know that if I hadn’t gone on the course I’d still be working to my old piecemeal routine and not making the progress I am. And I’m really proud of the progress I’ve been making!

Kerry was a brilliant teacher and facilitator who made everyone feel comfortable, confident and inspired.

I would say to women thinking of signing up for the course to DO IT! Whether you’re starting out or, like me, have been writing for a while, it’s a really good opportunity to check in, meet other women, get some confidence, learn some new skills and develop your writing routine into one that is healthy and works for you. Even though I’ve been writing for years and have been published, it was a real wake up call – a chance to stop, take stock and learn new skills.
To read more of Sian writing, see Sian and Crooked Rib

To book a course, see For Books’Sake

Claire Bourke Write like a Grrrl: London

I signed up for Write like a Grrrl because I was looking for a way to rekindle my love of creative writing, which had fallen somewhat by the wayside since choosing a career in research science and leaving my embryonic literature and language qualifications behind me. I’ve always loved (…loved, loved…) reading and been inspired by other writers leading to lots of starts-of-pieces-of- creative writing that I’d never completed due to a lack of self discipline, inspiration, confidence and plain procrastination. The WLAG course was recommended to me by a friend who shares my science/literature split personality and I was curious to see if it could help me get past the first paragraphs and make writing more of a day-to-day priority.

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At first I felt a bit out of my depth! The other attendees had a much more relevant background with degrees in literature and journalism and some were already writing zines and had works-in-progress. I hadn’t finished any creative writing projects since A-level, which felt like an awfully long time ago. It was inspiring to meet ‘real’ writers, but I felt like an imposter. As someone who has spent a long time as a mature student, I was also conscious that I didn’t want to accumulate another course that I wouldn’t put into practice.

It was so wonderful to talk about books: writers that we admired, books that we loved and those that we felt that we should have loved but didn’t. It was the perfect introduction to exploring why we loved/didn’t love what we read and how we could learn from other writers.

A lot of my initial nervousness of being out-of-place, too inexperienced or too low-brow for a writing course was immediately put to rest by Kerry’s relaxed and down-to-earth style and the friendly atmosphere thanks to her and the other WLAGs. Kerry’s use of extracts from novels to demonstrate different ways of exploiting Dialogue, Place, Subtext…etc. was a great way to see how each aspect could be crafted by an author and taught me to look more critically for those aspects in the books I was reading. When we came to sitting down and actually writing for exercises, it felt like a natural progression from our discussions rather than the daunting prospect it had seemed at first.

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It was strangely encouraging to hear from someone who has written for many years how hard it can be to keep going and, as simple as it sounds, the core focus of the course on sitting down and actually writing every day rather than worrying about it and putting it off was exactly what I needed.

Most importantly there was no academic bullshit and a pragmatic approach from the outset, which felt immediately like I was learning skills to be used rather than pontificated about!

I left after every session with a huge list of books I was desperate to read (fiction as well as recommendations for books on creative writing). I felt positive and inspired to get stuck in to some new writing of my own. I felt like I could (maybe) do this whole writing thing after all.  I’m not quite sure how, but WLAG managed to feel like having a relaxed tea party with fascinating women whilst simultaneously getting me to start actually writing again.

We now have a spin-off group, The Writing Wenches who meet up once a month to discuss, share and encourage each others’ writing, which is both fun and a  great kick-up-the-bum to keep it up! Thanks to the WLAG course, the meet-up group has the same relaxed, supportive and respectful feel and, if for whatever reason we haven’t written something for one of the get-togethers, there are always books and projects to discuss and wine to drink in the meantime!

 For more about Claire and her brilliant scientific work, see Dr Claire Bourke

Jess Glaisher Write like a Grrrl: London

Earlier this year, I did some re-evaluating of my work life balance and decided that I needed to make more time for my other passions – writing being the main one I wanted to focus on. I’ve been writing for a long time but never had the discipline to finish things, I hoped Write Like A Grrrl would help me!

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I felt pretty apprehensive on the first day. I’d missed the first week (work again!) so felt a bit ‘behind’…until I sat down and talked to the other Grrrls. By the end of the session I was feeling inspired and excited to continue writing.

Every week, I looked forward to the workshop. I particularly enjoyed comparing extracts from novels/short stories to illustrate the methods being taught with regard to characterisation, setting etc. The second week’s short story workshop was excellent – an hour of planning and an hour of writing – the time went so quickly that I spent another hour on the story later that day!

It’s upped my confidence in my ability enormously, especially with regard to proofreading and editing my work.

I know now that when I sit down to write I don’t need to wait for the fairy of inspiration to perch on my shoulder, that I can write something and that writing for even a short time can, in itself, improve my mood and confidence.

By the end of the course I felt inspired to keep writing, and sad that it was over. I signed up for The Next Step course as soon as it was available! I felt like I had a toolkit to help me with writing hurdles and a support group of other women writers.

I would say to anyone considering the course, to sign up now!  You won’t find a more supportive and helpful group. The relatively small size of the class allows for plenty of participation throughout and you’ll be among people who are trying to achieve the same thing you are – to write and keep writing – which this course will certainly help you do.

To book a course, see For Books’Sake