At Soho, london
Writing workshops in 2023 and 2024
Our first writing workshop in the UK took place at the Union Club in Soho, London, on 9th November 2023. We used the club’s Channing Williams room, a space full of Georgian charm and character. The Union Club is a private members club, set up 30 years ago in what was a dilapidated building at 50 Greek Street, Soho. The house was in a terrible state and was rescued from semi-dereliction after the previous tenant had set fire to it. After lashings of TLC the doors were thrown open in September 1993. More than two decades later, it has become an established Soho institution. Known for its unique style, world-class food, and arts-friendly ethos, the Union Club is the perfect home for Freedom to Write in London.
The theme of the first workshop was ‘The craft of writing’. We were thrilled that one of the most highly respected and experienced literary agents in the business, Patrick Walsh, joined us to talk about what he looks for in a proposal and how he helps take writers to the next level. Patrick has an illustrious client list, including Naoko Abe, Laura Cumming, Tom Holland and many others who have won prestigious literary awards. He co-founded Conville & Walsh in 2000, and later sold the agency to Curtis Brown, before founding PEW Literary in 2016.
We are now planning a second day-long workshop, probably sometime in late March 2024. If you are interested in coming to the next workshop, please email us. The cost of the workshop is £395, which includes all tuition, lunch, and coffee and tea during the day. We invite you to send us up to 1,000 words of your writing before the event. This is not compulsory, but it is a chance for you to get some feedback from us if you have already started writing, both during and after the workshop.
We offer one free place at each workshop to someone who has had contact with the criminal justice system, or is a partner or close relative of someone who has been in prison. If you would like to apply for this, please send us up to 500 words, explaining your situation and why you would like to come to the writing workshop, in addition to the 1,000 word sample of your writing. You can email these to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Although the Soho event was the first of what we hope will be a series of workshops in London, we actually held our very first creative writing workshop over two days in Oslo in Oct 2023. The programme included a visit to Oslo Prison on the first evening, which provided fertile material for some of our writing the next day. The group were a mixture of PhD students, postdocs and professors from Oslo University’s criminology department, more used to scholarly writing than penning personal narratives. They rose to the challenge and learned how to shake off the conventions of academic writing and write with imagination and creativity.
If you’d be interested in us running a writing event at your university or workplace, do drop us a line at email@example.com. Writing is not only a lot of fun, but it is a wonderful confidence builder, and our workshops foster trust and empathy, so they can be great for team-building.
In other exciting news, Yvonne and Andy have been invited to become Writers-in-Residence at HMP Grendon, which we hope to take up within the next couple of months. We ran a half-day creative writing workshop at the prison in September for fifteen talented writers. We can’t wait to go back and do more work with the group in 2024.
“The mix of workshops – expert and experienced input on some very pertinent, well chosen topics, combined with exercises that have stretched me – worked very well. I’m beginning to become productive having been encouraged to think in different ways about my project…I have a realistic hope now that I will bring my project to publication”.