Writing: Guardian Masterclass


In the multi chandeliered ballroom of intentions and resolutions the lights only burn with gem like brilliance when intentions and resolutions are actually realised. Thus my chandelier glows with the merest ghostly glimmer because I have crossed off ridiculously few items from the list of things, I drew up a few years ago, that I wished to do in the coming decade.

guardian masterclass

One item that’s scored through is attending a Guardian writing class, as last October I signed up for a masterclass titled “How to Write a Bestseller”. By the by, I don’t have ambitions in that direction it just happened to be the one that was listed on the Guardian schedule on a weekend I planned to travel to London. It was held in the Guardian’s super cool Kings’s Cross offices which over looking London’s Regent’s Canal. The line up was stellar with presentation by: Claire Armitstead the books’ editor for the Guardian and Observer; Emma Healey a bestselling novelist whose first book won the Costa prize; Claire Mackintosh a climbing-up-the-charts crime writer; and Jenny Colgan a bestselling author with twenty-five books to her credit. As the keynote Claire Armitstead interviewed the lovely and inimitable Marian Keyes whose books have sold over forty million copies worldwide.

Guardian masterclass

The polished presentations were pitch perfect. I started off taking notes and stopped when an attendee sitting near me said: ‘oh, we’ll get a handout’. We didn’t. There was a lot to take in and with my sieve like memory I have clean forgotten a lot of what was said, but that’s my fault. Emma Healey did prepare her own charmingly illustrated notes. Her useful tips include: act out scenes and visit locations, join a writing group, attend courses, read your writing aloud, try morning pages and other exercises, learn to love editing …

guardian masterclass

The two messages that I do recall are first the oft-repeated advice to read widely, with a rider to read critically. On that score I don’t think it matters much what you read: books, papers, magazines, blogs, the label on a tin of cocoa … So long as the writing is of a good standard. And secondly a piece of advice – which I think came from Jenny Colgan and I hope I am paraphrasing it correctly – to just write. Yes, if you want to be a writer you need to write! She suggested setting a daily word count target and whatever happens on any given day not going to bed until you pin that number of words to the page.

guardian masterclass

I really, really enjoyed the day long course: I paid €143.61 for it which I feel was excellent value, the price included lunch, tea & coffee, and there was a goody bag of books to take home. I got a discount of twenty per cent as I signed up, some time ago, for email updates about Guardian courses and occasionally one pings in offering reductions. Full details of all Guardian masterclasses are on their website. 


Filed under Books, Education, London

18 responses to “Writing: Guardian Masterclass

  1. Oh it sounds wonderful and a real learning experience. Time well spent for sure.

  2. H

    B that sounds like a wonderful course. I have read Emma Healey’s debut novel – Elizabeth is missing – and loved it. Look forward to more writing from you. Hx

    • Hello H, the course was excellent. Elizabeth is Missing was one of the books in the goody bag, it’s in my to read pile! Pleased to hear you loved it, that’s a good recommendation. Thank you so much. Bxx

  3. My chandelier is missing most of its bulbs. 😦 But this sounds like a lovely adventure. Perhaps it comes under the category of “Enjoy nourishing your mind and spirit” as often as possible.

  4. Margaret

    Sounds marvellous – You have a lovely turn of phrase – keep up the blogging to keep us all entertained for 2016 and beyond …

  5. What a fun list of things to accomplish from your 2014 post B! It’s always nice to have a bucket list of sorts. I think the yoga vacation sounds like grand fun 🙂 So glad the writing course was a wonderful experience, sounds like you came away with lots of good tips for better writing.


    Oh, so you’re back again! 🙂 That’s good news. And happy new year to you of course! xo

  7. Must have been fantastic and super interesting! I have been thinking about going to writing class for a while now and unknown forces of the universe are pushing me towards that direction. Your post may well be another sign of destiny. 🤓

    • Hello Francesca, the writing class was really good. Those unknown forces of the universe are powerful entities so I suspect you will go to a writing class. Destiny decrees! I look forward to reading about your experience of it on the blog. B xx

  8. This looks really useful. I’m going to a Writer’s Symposium myself in a couple of weeks, which I hope will really solidify some of the concepts behind succeeding in writing as a ‘career’ rather than a hobby (so difficult to transition between the two!). Glad that you found this to be beneficial for the price!

  9. I presume the courses are all London based? I’ll have a look at the website, just in case. Sounds wonderful, though more than I would normally spend on a treat just for me. 🙂

    • I think the courses are mainly London based although I seem to recall that some are held in Manchester. The course was truly good. The headline price is expensive but we got: lunch, three books in a goody bag to take away, and the opportunity to listen to some successful writers. All of which made the price easier to swallow. Thank you Jo for your comment. 😉

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