Arvon at Home Writing Week: Starting to Write Non-fiction

Turning Real Life into Gripping Stories

Monday January 10th - Friday January 14th 2022, 16:30 GMT


Is there a story from your life that you’ve always wanted to write but you’re not sure how to get started? Maybe it’s your family’s history, or a grand adventure of your own, or an account of how you overcame a great challenge. Maybe you want to use your life’s experiences to make sense of events, or to help others. Real life stories have enormous power to engage and inspire readers but putting them down on paper can be daunting. Where do you even begin? There are many ways to tell a real-life story – from the traditional to the experimental. And there are questions to consider before deciding your own way: ‘Whose story is it? Do you want to educate, entertain, or both? How much of yourself are you comfortable sharing?

Whether you’re coming with a head full of ideas, a few rough chapters or a finely-honed synopsis, your tutors, Lois Pryce and Ants Bolingbroke-Kent will guide you through the process from the very beginning. You will learn how to organise your ideas and create a structure, how to incorporate (and not drown in) your research, the use of dialogue and characterisation in bringing your story to life, and how to make those crucial decisions about what to include, and more importantly, what to leave out.

As part of the shared experience, we will discuss the books we love and examine what makes them work, and you’ll get a chance to explore and experiment with these techniques in group sessions, as well as discuss the specifics of your own work in the one-to-one tutorials.

By the end of the course you will be inspired, equipped and itching to get started.

We’ll help you to make ‘Arvon at Home’, turning your own place into a writing cocoon, capturing the transformative power of our acclaimed Arvon residential courses: two brilliant author-tutors at your service, a caring and sharing group, the time and space to devote to your writing, invaluable feedback, new writing pals, and the unique creative progress that happens in a dedicated week. 

You will be offered the best of a classic Arvon residential week, with a few virtual tweaks. Spot the difference: a carefully balanced combination of tips to help you focus, daily morning workshops, one-to-one tutorials with both tutors, three evening get-togethers to chat about the day’s work, a mid-week guest reading offer, the celebratory Friday-evening collective reading, and lots of time and encouragement for you to write every day. You will receive a free ticket to our Wednesday evening Live Guest Reading.

All gatherings, one-to-one or group, will be delivered via our own Arvon Zoom, so you’ll need to have a reliable internet connection. Your Arvon host will be on call to offer support as you need it, including any help you may need with your computer set-up. 

To participate, and to get the most out of the week, you’ll need to turn up online for all planned morning sessions, Monday to Friday. You should also set aside your afternoons for tutorials and independent writing time.  Last but not least, we urge you to read your tutors’ published work before the week starts.

As part of our wider effort to increase participation in the arts, there are a limited number of concessionary places available for this course.

Dates: Monday 10th January 16.30  — Friday 14th January 20:00
Cost: £400 (concession: £200)


I had the chance to speak with two well respected tutors about my work. Being able to do this in one-to-one tutorials was excellent and not reduced in any way by being on Zoom. A good chance for some very good advice. I am now determined to set to work on my writing.

—Writing Week Participant

What a lovely week—worked so well. It’s not the Hurst, but something different and equally special.

—Writing Week Participant


16.30—18.30: Everyone gathers online in Arvon’s Zoom Writing House. Your Arvon host will welcome you and the tutors, giving you an overview of the week, technology support, and some ideas for making your writing ‘cocoon’. You’ll get to meet everyone, ask questions, and settle in. Your tutors will ask you to start thinking about your writing, perhaps setting an exercise. There’s likely to be some homework for tomorrow morning


10.00-13.00: Everyone meets online for the morning workshop, which includes writing exercises, discussion and comfort breaks.

Afternoon: One-to-one tutorials lasting about 20 minutes each. You have one tutorial with each tutor during the week, the rest of the afternoon is your time to think and write.

17.30-18.00: The Arvon pub- Informal evening get-together (optional). This is a chance to discuss the day’s work, any writing issues, what you’re drinking/eating, and anything else that springs to mind. Pets, children and partners welcome.

18.00—19.00: Tutor readings: both tutors read and speak about their work, followed by a Q&A hosted by your Arvon host.


The timing is just like yesterday…

10.00-13.00: Morning workshop

Afternoon: One-to-one tutorials

17.30-18.00: The Arvon pub


19.15-20.15: The Arvon Wednesday Live Guest Reading—you get a free ticket to this.


10.00-13.00: Morning workshop

Afternoon: One-to-one tutorials

17.30-18.00: The Arvon pub

18.00—19.00: A session, the theme of which will be decided nearer the time by your tutors


10.00-13.00: Morning workshop

Afternoon: Afternoon tutorials

17.30-18.00: The Arvon pub


18.00-20.00: Friday evening culminates with a celebratory reading where you have the chance to share some of your new writing. Expect laughter, tears and a huge sense of pride for all you have learned, written and achieved this week. There’ll be plenty of virtual hugs.

And then...

Next steps: The week doesn’t stop here. You now have a writing community. Stay in touch. Share your work with each other, and take it forward!



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