Every two years we recruit 30 writers aged 16-21 from across the north of England. We offer a free programme of workshops, one to ones, project activity and professional development.
The first year of the Writing Squad programme consists of six one-day workshops held on Saturdays in cities across the North of England. There are also regular Thursday night workshops held online.
In the second year, workshops are open to all new and previous Squad members, and we choose guest leaders who reflect the interests and needs of Squad writers.
We also hold regular online ‘Mini Goals’ sessions – in which writers set simple targets for the coming weeks, and share their cultural highlights.
One to ones
Squad days are complemented by up to eight one-to-one sessions with a member of the Core Team. In these sessions, we create and review individual plans for developing the writer’s work, and how they manage and promote themselves. The one-to-ones take place either by phone, online or in person across the North, wherever our writers feel comfortable meeting.
We hold at least one two-day weekend workshop a year, open to current and past Squad members. The focus of these comes from the particular needs of the Squad. In the past, we’ve spent weekends making short films, making flash online projects, exploring self portraiture with a poet and a photographer; as well as open and ‘unblocking’ weekends without agendas.
After our writers have completed the two-year programme, the Squad continues to support them with their writing plus professional development advice, continued access to workshops and initiatives to promote them and their work.
Since we started in 2001, the Writing Squad has evolved from a writer development programme into a community of creatives. Producing projects with partners or by ourselves gives us the opportunity to develop our writers’ professional skills through practical creative adventures. See our current and previous projects here.
Our Workshop Leaders
Meeting Squad Needs
Squad writers work in all media and forms and we choose workshop leaders to reflect their needs. We’ve had days led by Jeremy Dyson on comedy, Roger Robinson on 100 Ways To Be a Better Poet, Kathryn Williams on songwriting, and much more. We’ve used our industry links to get sessions with the likes of BBC Writersroom, the Poetry Business and Penguin Random House. And it’s not just writers – we’ve had workshops with photographers, glass makers, game designers, dancers and museum specialists.
Our own writers
One of the best resources we have for workshops is the expertise of the Squad itself. Grads have led sessions on everything from radio drama to gaming, writing for soaps and zine-making. Squad writers have also been employed to deliver workshops as part of our project work.
When we can we give our writers the chance to work with writers from abroad. Founder of Portland’s Dangerous Writing School Tom Spanbauer spent two days with us along with Michael Sage Ricci, Canadian writers Ashok Mathur and Hiromi Goto led workshops, as did the much missed Zimbabwean novelist and journalist, Chenjerai Hove.