- There is no doubt that attending a writing course for a week gives the usually solitary author a tremendous confidence boost to GO HOME AND WRITE!
- Being with other authors is like coming home and being recognised for who and what you are. The authors you will meet will be successful, published, unpublished, struggling. They come in all conditions. They know what you go through, they have been there or they are about to discover the process. They understand when your loved ones think writing is just something you do to fill the time.
- The choice of courses. You will see this in the disadvantages section, too. Both Fishguard and Swanwick offer a wide choice - from writing a novel, writing historical fiction, crime writing and also courses that help you organise your time and teach you to focus on what you want. My advice is to think about what you want from the week and choose your courses accordingly.
- Have to say I loved the Swanwick Procrastination-free day. I didn't attend any of the activities, just sat in the coffee lounge and wrote over 4000 words.
- Fishguard offers a painting and drawing course and both Fishguard and Swanwick are happy for your partners to come with you.
- Socialising and networking with those who are in the mainstream of writing.
- Evening activities. From a talk by someone 'in the business' to the Swanwick pantomime and Fishguard's Cwmbach Choir.
- Sometimes the sheer numbers of people can be overwhelming. Fishguard is more select in that it has about 50 attendees, Swanwick has about 200. If you are allergic to noise and a lot of humanity, this can be an assault on your senses. My advice is to stick it out and join in.
- It's like going back to school, especially at Swanwick where the numbers are such, it is impractical to have a 'walk-along and be served' counter for dinner and there is only one choice of main course and vegetarian course. At Swanwick the dinners are served by the people at the end of your table - that hadn't happened to me since I went to grammar school. The Fishguard Writers Holiday is in a hotel and as there are fewer attendees, the situation is different - choice of food etc. That said, the actual food at Swanwick was very good.
- The choice of courses. Told you this would come up. There will usually be a choice of "main" courses but if you want to learn about, say Writing Romances and Writing Poetry, you may have to choose one or the other. It is all in the mix of how the event is organised.
- I found not having the time to go as in-depth as I would like was irritating. I think, for instance, Michael Jecks could do a whole main course on writing historical crime, the genre is so huge and so popular. At Swanwick, he had to cram everything into two hours. And, so did we!
You make of a writers' course what you put into it. To use that horrible phrase, it is 'horses for courses'. I know writers who have been going to either the Writers Holiday and Swanwick for years and some who attend both. It is a wonderful way to connect with your fellow authors and I would recommend it to anyone.
Writers Holiday site - http://www.writersholiday.net
Swanwick Writers School: http://www.swanwickwritersschool.org.uk