There are few things more satisfying than completing a manuscript. And there are few things more challenging and isolating than the process of writing that manuscript! The act of writing a book is usually a lonely experience, immersing yourself deep in your story and your own mind. But you don’t have to battle your book alone. Many writers find support and accountability by connecting with other creative people. By working with a tribe of like-minded writers, you are more likely to succeed. Connecting regularly with other writers and providing feedback with each will not only improve your manuscript, but often your mental wellbeing as well.
Our powerful Write Your Novel program provides a structured and welcoming setting to interact with other writers and experienced tutors. It is designed to fast-track your success. Running over six or 12 months, students work on completing and polishing their manuscript. The workshopping, accountability and expert support that you get during the program are so invaluable that some of our students even do it more than once! Now that’s commitment.
One of our students, Inessa Jackson, has gone through the program three times.
“I enrolled in my first Write Your Novel not knowing what to expect,” Inessa told us. “I knew I wanted to write a novel, I loved writing, but I didn’t know how to get past the first few chapters. The course material solved many of these issues for me, but it was the other students and our tutor who made the experience so wonderful and made me want to repeat the course.”
Sal De Freitas had a similar experience before coming to the Australian Writers’ Centre. “I always wrote, but never thought of it as something I could seriously do outside school and university,” Sal said. She started with the foundation creative writing courses, before applying for the Write Your Novel program. Sal signed up for ANOTHER Write Your Novel program again the same year, and a third time the year after!
“I enrolled in my second Write Your Novel program pretty much straight away as I had much more confidence in the process. By then I was working full-time so I knew I needed that structure and deadline to keep me moving forward with my project.”
Two-time Write Your Novel graduate Bianca O’Neill decided to do the program again to help her through her second draft.
“I really enjoyed the first round of Write Your Novel, particularly all the feedback and support from other members,” Bianca said. “It also kept me going, encouraging me to finish my first draft rather than let it languish in a digital drawer while life got the better of me. So when I was thinking about my second draft, and needed a set deadline for myself, repeating the course solved all my problems – I could workshop my changes, as well as having a deadline for the second draft that I could work towards.”
What is Write Your Novel?
The Write Your Novel program is more than a course. Each week, the theory section covers a new topic looking at genre, characters, plot and research, and practical elements such as creating a schedule, planning, editing, and working with a publisher. At the program’s core is the group workshopping process – where students elevate their skills by giving and receiving feedback on each other’s writing. They also have access to world-class tutors along the way.
“My first Write Your Novel program taught me fantastic skills in writing to a deadline, learning about structure, and reading and providing feedback on others’ work,” Sal said. “The insights you gain from workshopping are incredible. Not only do you receive helpful feedback on your manuscript, but by critiquing others you also gain a more objective perspective on your own writing.”
“Sharing your challenges with other writers – and having the freedom to take risks in a supportive online workshop – improved my writing considerably,” Inessa said. “It was that connection with the group, who are all going through the same thing, that made enrolling a second time so valuable.”
For Bianca, workshopping her second draft meant fresh perspectives.
“It’s a great way to workshop your changes and see if they work better than the first draft – particularly as I’m writing an Sci Fi thriller that has a lot of moving parts,” she said. “It’s great that I had a few different eyes on it, letting me know if the changes I made contradicted any of the existing storylines/timelines.”
At first, people are sometimes daunted by the workshopping aspect. But everyone always ends up saying that they learned so much from the experience. Whether you do it online or in the classroom, we can’t emphasise enough how valuable it is. Writers start by saying that they’re nervous about submitting their work for critique, but after the first session the word ‘nervous’ is replaced with ‘excited’ and even ‘enjoyable.’
You’ll be surrounded by other creative writers in the same boat as you, giving you a sense of community and support. You’ll have deadlines to work to which force you to be accountable. And you’ll get a new sense of momentum and motivation to keep writing. What’s not to love?
Who can apply?
Because of the nature of the Write Your Novel course, it’s ideal if you’re already familiar with literary techniques and have at least 20,000 words written. The majority of students enter the program after completing the Creative Writing Stage 1 and Novel Writing Essentials courses, so they can build on their existing skills.
Basically, we want our students to get a sense of accomplishment from the Write Your Novel program. Writing a novel alongside your peers should be fun and pleasurable. Yes, it’s also a lot of work. You must be prepared for the reality of getting feedback and of the general practicalities of committing to a course and a full-length manuscript. But with the support of your amazing tutors and the budding friendship of your classmates, it will be an adventure you’ll never forget.
The online program can be completed over six or 12 months. It’s one of the most flexible programs of its kind.
Learning online is perfect for busy people who can’t commit to a set day each week. Students still get all the advantages of working in a small group with a tutor, but from the comfort of their home or work computer. Many of our students wind up chatting almost every day online, talking over story ideas, working through plot problems, and giving each other support.
“As a freelance journalist I work a lot of random hours and interviews/stories/events come up last minute, so it’s hard for me to commit to set meetings or course times,” Bianca said. “Online was perfect – I could complete my work whenever I wanted, and check up on feedback when I had time.”
Inessa agrees that the online version was right for her lifestyle. “There’s no driving through traffic or trying to find a car spot, you just log on. It also means you have the experience of working with writers from everywhere around the world.”
Why do it again?
If the Write Your Novel program is so great, why do it again? Well, because it is so great!
If you’re serious about finishing your manuscript and getting published, the Write Your Novel program is the perfect motivator. Weekly deadlines keep you accountable and you also have a commitment to your fellow writers to show up and participate. If you have a full-time job, there’s no better way to make you find the time to write, reflect, and learn.
“I think if you’re like me, and find it difficult to put aside time to complete your novel, it’s a great way of holding you accountable to a deadline,” Bianca said.
Inessa agreed. “While I treat my writing as a hobby, I’d love to be published one day. Write Your Novel is fantastic for providing deadlines, getting in-depth feedback, learning your craft and having a novel at the end of six months to be proud of.”
Some of our repeat offenders – we mean the term in the nicest way possible! – go through the program for each novel that they’re working on. Others feel that their manuscript needs another round of feedback and rewrites to really get it perfect. And others just get addicted to workshopping. Yep. We’ve seen it happen. It starts with Novel Writing Essentials, and then continues on into Write Your Novel. Workshopping your writing is life-changing.
“The difference in my approach from the first to the third course was that I became much more focused on what I wanted out of each submission,” Sal said. “I found the workshopping even more enjoyable as I was able to trust in my own abilities more and felt I had more valuable feedback to provide to my fellow writers.”
After going through the program three times, Inessa has three novels in various stages of completion.
“I’d say anyone who enjoys working online with like-minded writers would benefit from doing the course again. You never know who you’ll meet and what you’ll learn from them,” Inessa said. “Having that support from other writers is so important because writing can be a lonely experience and technology makes it so easy to stay connected these days.”
And into the future
Inessa, Sal and Bianca all worked with AWC tutor Cathie Tasker. Cathie has over 25 years’ experience in the publishing industry and has mentored many manuscripts to publication. She is an expert at guiding and motivating writers to improve their work.
Going through the experience of writing a novel together often leads students to form fast friendships and they continue to work together even after they finish their program.
“The third course I did with Cathie has become my own writing group and we continue to workshop together to this day!” Sal said. “In 2018 we met up in Sydney and early in 2019 we all met up for a workshopping writing retreat on the Central Coast. In 2020 we are all meeting up in Perth where I and one of the other members are based. We have all become lifelong friends from all walks of life (and all over Australia!). I would never have met these amazing women without the AWC Write Your Novel program.”
Sal has completed her first novel and is currently pitching it to agents and publishers while working on her second novel. In May 2019, she won the Novice Writers Award for a short story at the Peter Cowan Writing Awards. Inessa has three novels underway and shows no signs of slowing down. And Bianca is about to dive into a third draft after a promising chat with a book agent in LA.
“I’m taking some time off journalism/my digital content business early next year and hoping to dedicate full time work on the third draft, set myself a concrete deadline, and seek a professional structural edit in April,” Bianca told us. “Perhaps I need to do the course again, now that I think of it… haha!”
Working on your first, second, or third draft? Tackling manuscript number two? Our Write Your Novel program is perfect for writers of fiction or memoir who are ready to take their writing seriously.