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Courses FAQ



How do I work out which course is right for me?

It is important to read the course descriptions carefully when making a decision about what course you want to do – most course blurbs give an indication of the intended audience.  If you feel you fit the bill then it is probably the course for you. Pick a course which is aimed at a level you feel comfortable at. If you have not done much writing before or none at all then a Starting to Write course might suit you best. If you already have a lot of writing experience then you may want to choose a more advanced course.

Whilst the tutors generally set the tone for the course, it is important to pick a course on the basis of subject matter first and foremost. Sometimes tutors have to pull out of courses at the last minute, for various reasons outside of our control, and we will always replace a tutor with someone in the field that the course focuses on.

Do call our centres or national office (during office hours) if you would like any help choosing the right course for you –  we’d be more than happy to help.

Why do you have to apply to some courses and not to others?

A few courses may be selected courses. This is usually at the request of a particular tutor and is generally used to make sure students are at a similar level. Sometimes it will be because the course requires a certain skill from the outset  – for example,  some musical ability for Songwriting or another language for Translation.

What is the difference between Retreats and courses?

An Arvon retreat is the perfect opportunity to step away from day-to-day distractions and get a lot of writing done, whilst being in the midst of the supportive company of fellow writers.  All retreats offer single rooms only. Otherwise domestic arrangements are the same as for all courses. We have four types of retreat:

Tutored Retreat : Two tutors are present, who will be available for one-to-one tutorials, and a guest tutor on Wednesday.  However, there are no workshops in the morning,

Retreat :  There are no tutors present and participants are free to structure their creative time as they see fit.

Retreat with Yoga : This is structured in the same  way as a Retreat, except that you have optional hatha yoga and meditation sessions in the morning and evening with a trained instructor.

Friends’ Retreat : This Retreat is open to Arvon Friends at Arvon Laureate level and above (see Join-Arvon-Friends for more info).

How many people are in workshops?

Each course can take up to 16 people and workshops are run to include the whole group.

Do I have to go to each of the workshops?

The workshops are not compulsory but we would encourage you to go to all of them. Often tutors plan for each workshop to follow the next so missing one may disrupt the flow of the course for you and students tend to find that the more they put into the course the more they will get out of it.  If you do not feel that the workshop learning environment is right for you then you might want to consider booking a retreat or a tutored retreat.

How much of my work will tutors read?

Different tutors will read different amounts of work. It is unlikely they will have time to read more than a few pages but that is generally enough to give them a sense of your writing style and how to advise you.

How much one-to-one time do I really get?

You will have approximately 20 minutes with each tutor during the week, in which time you will be able to discuss your work. This time is exclusively for you to get advice on your writing and is a valuable part of the Arvon experience.

Will I have to read my work in front of complete strangers?

Workshops vary from course to course, tutor to tutor. You may be asked to read aloud in workshops and there is always a Friday night reading in which you will be encouraged to read from the work you have done throughout the week. This may seem daunting at first but by the end of the week you’ll have got to know your group and each person will be in the same position. The reading on the last night is a celebration of the week’s work and students usually find that sharing their work is an uplifting experience.

How many hours a day will we spend writing?

Workshops generally run for two or three hours each morning, sometimes you will be asked to write within them, and then the afternoons are free for your own individual writing time. You can use this time in whatever way you choose. Please see the schedule of the week for more details of how the weeks are structured.

Is there a library from which to draw inspiration?

Each centre has a library of books and other publications of various genres which you are free to look through and borrow books from while you there.

Is my level of experience right for this course?

Arvon courses are open to everyone, no matter what stage of their writing journey they are at. Arvon encourages people to write for the love of writing, not necessarily to be published or to make a career out of it but because we believe everyone should have the opportunity to give it a try and see where it takes them. You do not have to be good, you do not even have had to have tried it before; you just have to want to give it a go. If you pick a course pitched at a level that suits you then you will probably find that most people on the course are at a similar level to you.

How can I prepare for my course?

To get the most out of your course, we strongly recommend that before you arrive you familiarise yourself with some of the tutors’ work – it will make the world of difference. If, during the week, you would like your tutors to read some work that you have already written, please bring two printed copies. Be aware that it is unlikely they will have the time to read more than a few pages, but that is generally enough to give them a sense of your writing style and how to advise you.  

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