the writers’ workshop, france
Or locally known as l’atelier des écrivains. One of our September 2018 writers said that the workshop was “One of the most transformative events of my life.” Another said that it was “Such an inspirational few days – it’s been brilliant.” You can read more testimonials on our dedicated workshop website.
Imagine waking up in an 18th century French manor house. You dress and head out to the terrace for a morning yoga session, just as the sun is rising above the trees - or maybe you enjoy a quick dip in the heated outdoor swimming pool before tucking into a healthy breakfast.
You then head to the panelled library where your writing workshop is about to begin. Led by the award-winning writer, Helen Cross, you learn practical techniques to really develop and strengthen your writing skills. You use exercises relating to character creation and imaginative writing, ways of generating new material, and you explore different genres and forms. Whether you have a fiction or non-fiction book in mind, Helen will help push your writing in new and original directions. With just a small group of eight other participants, you have lots of time for questions and one-on-one support, and by the end of the morning you are feeling really confident in your ability to write the story you know you are capable of.
With all those creative juices flowing you’ve worked up an appetite and so you head to the garden for an al-fresco lunch in the sunshine. The afternoon is your own and so you decide that you want to disappear into one of the quiet nooks and crannies within the manor house to put into practice all that you have learnt that morning.
Some of your fellow writers have decided to head into the nearby village for some inspiration – it is renowned for its beauty: cobbled pathways take visitors to ancient monuments, a Romanesque church and view-points on high, which offer stunning views of honey coloured roof-tops. Others have joined Sarah (that’s me!) in the garden for her half-hour snippets of experience from her novel-writing life.
You write prolifically and later on you have an hour with Helen Cross for a personalised consultation session. Here you get the chance to ask questions, show Helen your work and seek advice on areas of your writing that you’ve been grappling with. You find this session hugely valuable – a fantastic opportunity to learn from one of the best in the field.
That evening, dinner takes place in the old dining room that is oozing with history. There is a warm glow from the candelabra and the room is buzzing with conversation among the group as they enjoy an aperitif by the fireplace. Your meal is prepared by a private chef who has cooked for owners and guests at chateaux across the region, and which has been tailored to your dietary requirements. As you eat and drink, you discuss your work and that of others with your group. In a creative, inspiring environment – it’s an experience you won’t ever forget.
And if you’re still wondering whether L’atelier des écrivains - the Writers’ Workshop, France is the right thing for you, we’ll leave you with the words of Sarah who had travelled all the way from Australia to join us:
“I don’t think you could possibly regret coming on something like this. Hanging out with amazing women, sinking into our writing, eating amazing food and drinking delicious wine in this incredible environment. There is no downside”.