Life Writing

Capturing Your Story

Monday October 4th - Saturday October 9th 2021

Totleigh Barton

You have a story to tell that frustratingly hasn’t been told in the way that you hoped. But how do you take the raw material, interviews, memories and reflections and weave them into a plot and gripping tale? Colin Grant and Nell Frizzell have devised practical and immersive workshops on the art of life writing, working out its order, narrative voice and tone. Both these experienced Arvon tutors will guide you through the process of using artefacts – photos, letters, diaries and official documents from the archives – to deepen and enliven your story.

Often writers are faced with the dilemma of how to begin, which story to select and what details to include or let go. This is true no matter how accomplished you are. In the course of the week, in group and individual sessions, you’ll find out how to put into place these essential building blocks when constructing your narratives. You’ll also explore how you might recover memories and use dialogue that may be emotionally true even if it can no longer be proven.

Writing from your life experiences can be daunting but is always invigorating. Perhaps you’ve stopped and started and stopped again? But each of us have unique stories and perspectives. Colin and Nell will help you to capture the essence of the story and characters that may have proved elusive so far.

*We have worked hard to ensure our courses and retreats are as Covid-compliant as possible and can’t wait to welcome you to Totleigh Barton. To learn more about the measures we have put in place please click here

Single room price: £815

This course is available for concession pricing
Grants are available to help with the course fee


Totleigh Barton garden and pond

Totleigh Barton

Totleigh Barton, the first ever Arvon centre, is a 16th-century manor house in one of the most peaceful and idyllic parts of Devon.


Writing course tutor delivering a workshop at Lumb Bank


Arrive late afternoon, settle in, enjoy dinner and the tutors’ introduction to the week in the evening.

one-to-one tutorial at Lumb Bank


Morning workshops led by tutors. Afternoons are your time for writing and one-to-one tutorials. Tutors read from their work in the evening.

Course participants writing at the workshop table at The Hurst


Morning workshops led by tutors. Afternoons are your time for writing and one-to-one tutorials. In the evening a guest speaker joins the group.

Course participant writing on a sofa in the barn at Lumb Bank


Morning workshops led by tutors. Afternoons are your time for writing and one-to-one tutorials. You are free to spend this evening as you wish.

A woman smiling and listening to a writing tutor speak at Lumb Bank


Tutors lead the final workshops in the morning. In the evening everyone gets together to share and celebrate their work.

Course participants eating at The Hurst


The week comes to a close after breakfast. Have a tissue handy to say your farewells to the group.

“I arrived at the beginning of the week wondering whether I might be a writer or even if I could write. But when I left, not only did I feel I could write, I knew that’s what I was going to do next.”

—Piers Torday

“It is invaluable to writers at an early stage to have this feedback on their work. Many people on my course said that they wished that they had received this type of input earlier in their career – that it might have borne fruit and improved their success. It also provides time to think – in an over complicated world it is hard to carve time for yourself against the requirements of work, family, and daily chores. Arvon was a breath of fresh creative air.”

—Penny Clark

“Both courses I attended have had a massive impact on my writing, and been part of the motivation and encouragement I needed to begin working professionally as a writer.”

—Course participant



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