Write Stuff! : The Whole Story

I’m a Creative Writing tutor in Chester, where I lead a band of enthusiastic writers in a class called “Write Stuff!”

Some students arrive with lots of writing experience and others come, never having done any creative writing in their lives. They’re people of varied age, background, life experience and this, as you’ll imagine, makes for fascinating discussion, new friendships and some wonderful writing.

Each week we look at elements of good writing in modern novels and poetry, following this up with workshop exercises sometimes on a particular theme, e.g. neighbourliness or families or the natural world.

But this is by no means our full story…

Next week, for instance, our work will be displayed alongside an Exhibition about the Vikings at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester. And this summer, we featured there in an Exhibition called “ Mountains and Molehills”, all about Habitats throughout Cheshire.

Then next month, we perform our poems and stories during a Performance Saturday at Chester Lit Fest. And in our last session before Christmas, Cheshire Poet Laureate Jo Bell talks with us about writing for the Internet.

So as you see, “Write Stuff!” has much expanded from its original format…. and you may be intrigued to hear more about our lively class….

Our adventures have been various!

We’ve performed our work for an Arts programme on Radio Merseyside. We’ve produced an Anthology of our work. We’ve entertained members of Chester Theatre Club and members of a local History Society and we’ve displayed our work at a village festival. Over the summer when classes finish, we meet in some interesting places, including a Lighthouse Centre and also a country pub…. where the landlord provided us with a superb room in which to work, plus delicious free refreshments!

And we’ve had fascinating visitors. Kate Long, best selling author of “ The Bad Mother’s Handbook” has talked with us, as has talented young novelist David Whitley (“ The Midnight Charter) plus Alison Leonard, Caroline Smailes and various talented winners of the Cheshire Prize for Literature have encouraged us with their enthusiasm.

Learning at all stages of life is invigorating and in a friendly and enterprising atmosphere, people thrive and blossom.

That’s the creed of WEA and it’s one that’s absolutely invaluable!

Jan Bengree.


Courses in Liverpool

Writing Tips

Friday, February 4th, 2011

The links below lead to ten writing tips by well-known writers. They make interesting reading and there’s some sage advice. Scribble away…

Elmore Leonard

Zadie Smith

Will Self

Margaret Atwood

Hilary Mantel

Roddy Doyle

Sarah Waters

Rose Tremain

Michael Morpurgo

Michael Moorcock

Writing a script? Read this…

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Cath Bore – Liverpool Writer About Town, has many writing hats. She writes for Hello magazine in her blog The Full Picture. She writes scripts, musicals and crime novels, and has a regular guest spot on various local radio stations. Anyway, here’s a blog post of Cath’s that might be of interest if you are a writer seeking advice on writing a treatment.

Walk by the Water

Monday, June 13th, 2011

These lovely, long, light evenings lend themselves to leisurely river walks and one of the nicest has to be along the River Mersey to Chorlton Water Park. You can walk there from Sale, Trafford or Didsbury in one to two hours. Stop off at Jackson’s Boat for a cool drink and some Salt ‘n’ Vinegars. Go on – your legs’ll love it!

Volunteer Bursary for an Inspiring Writer at the Arvon Foundation

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Grants for volunteers

An anonymous writer, who has benefitted from several Arvon courses, would like to enable others to have the same experience. The donor will provide a yearly amount which will enable one person working in the voluntary sector to attend an Arvon writing course for a greatly reduced fee. To apply you must currently volunteer either full or part time within a charity or voluntary organisation. Applications will not be accepted from professional writers or those already making a living from writing.

To apply for this grant you should download our Grant Application pack (pdf, 357kB), which also includes details of our grants for those on low incomes. [Read more…]

Viewer or Voyeur – which are you?

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Here’s something for all photographers and those of us who view their images. This Guardian article will make you think…

The Arvon Foundation – creative writing courses

Monday, July 19th, 2010

The Arvon Foundation provides wonderful opportunities for writers of any and every genre. The courses are residential and take place in lovely old houses in beautiful parts of Britain. There are four centres each offering their own range of creative writing courses:

Moniack Mhor in Beuly, Inverness-shire

Lumb Bank in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire

The Hurst in Craven Arms, Shropshire

Totleigh Barton in Beaworthy, Devon

In the summer of 2006, I attended a screen-writing course at Totleigh Barton and it was one of the best courses I have ever been on. The tutors were Allegra Huston (Anjelica’s sister) and David Pirie, who wrote the screenplay for Lars Von Trier’s Breaking the Waves. There were about 16 of us in total, from all over the country, plus a woman from America. We spent the mornings in workshops with the tutors and the afternoons concentrating on our writing. During the week we also had one-to-one sessions with both tutors. In the evenings we helped to prepare and cook the evening meal and there was a rota for washing up. I slept in a converted pig pen and one morning managed to lock myself out of my room after taking a shower and had to sit down to breakfast in my pyjamas!

The 100 most beautiful words in English (apparently)

Thursday, September 1st, 2011


Saw this link on Twitter and thought it was quite interesting. It is American though, so the definition of a bungalow as being ” A small, cozy cottage” is not, I imagine, how most English people would describe one.

Here’s the link

Sylvia Hikins at the Grosvener Museum

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Wirral artist Sylvia Hikins is not only a poet and painter, but also a music-maker too! How talented is she? Why not see for yourself:

A new exhibition at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum celebrates the paintings and poetry of Wirral artist Sylvia Hikins. ‘Distant Voices: from Iceland to Viking Wirral’ has just opened and runs until November 3rd.

You can read more about Sylvia and the exhibition here.

So egalitarian…

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Fancy attending a course on beginner’s photography? Then why not join The Guardian’s

Absolute essentials of photography

Dates: Begins 27 September 2011

Duration: 12 weeks, Tuesdays 6.30pm-9pm

Location: Tower Bridge Studios, London E1

Course price: £2100 (inclusive of VAT)

Maximum number of places: 15

Yes, you read that correctly £2100… keeps the riff-raff out I suppose.

Script analysis of The King’s Speech

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

The Script Factory website is currently displaying an informative article analysing the success of the film the King’s Speech. The Script Factory runs professional courses in script-writing, script-editing and script-reading. Unfortunately for us, they are based in London.