I originally joined Writer's Toolbox as a means to gather my thoughts on an unraveling life upon returning to UK from living abroad in a fairly extreme situation. Just prior to starting I had won a writing competition that had given me the confidence to feel I could write. But I needed a structure that would give me regular guidance. Writer's Tool Box appealed because of its promise to make you a better critic, of your own work, and others'.
It is billed as a leisure course but in the end it was so much more than that for me. The weekly home works meant that I kept up a regular practice of writing as my marriage fell apart. The guidance given, and what we learned from the process of critiquing each others' work, meant that my work visibly improved week on week, which balanced out the struggles of my personal life. The teacher Janni Howker was very empathetic to my situation, yet knew how to get me to draw on it as a source of inspiration. It vastly improved my mental health and well being, and made be believe in myself and my abilities.
After some time I got published in a magazine, and the editor put me onto her agent who believed there was a book in me. I have been working on it ever since, having tested various fragments on the Writer's Toolbox class. Now, happily, I have been awarded a PhD scholarship in Creative Writing at Glasgow University, for which I will complete the book.
It would be true to say that Writer's Toolbox changed the course of my life, very much for the better, and has set me on a track that feels right for me.
Even in a leisure course, every individual has their story, and many people use writing as a way to navigate difficulties or conundrums in their lives. They may not be 'Vulnerable Adults' but they are vulnerable, as we all are. Writer's Toolbox was a safe space within which to be vulnerable, a closed group of support which was a weekly refuge and stepping stone. I made friends in age groups I might not normally have much to do with, and have kept in touch with them since leaving.
I miss it, and may return to it simultaneously to doing my PhD. The standard of teaching is excellent.
Autumn 2015 / Spring 2016
(taken from Learner course reviews)
SPANISH FOR BEGINNERS
“I found the course very challenging, especially learning a new language at my age!”
LATIN FOR BEGINNERS
“Lucie is an excellent teacher – I hated Latin at school – love it now”
ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS
“Cath’s supportive approach has been fantastic”
GERMAN YEAR 6
“Having been a teacher myself for 40 years, I think Dorothea is first rate.”
“Dorothea is a really excellent teacher. The class is always well prepared and organised and she knows exactly what she is doing!”
FRENCH YR 6
“There is clearly a lot of preparation which goes into the lessons – thanks Dominique!”
WATERCOLOUR FOR ALL
“Great fun, really enjoyable. Have learnt many new techniques”
“Looking forward to ‘specialist’ courses next term.”
“Great that we now have an extra pottery wheel”
PIANO FOR BEGINNERS
“The tutor is consistent and patient. I have learnt far more than I expected.”
PIANO FOR IMPROVERS
“Excellent course, excellent tuition. Good variety of activities.”
PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BEGINNERS
“A stimulating course which helped us all ‘find our feet’. Little ‘pressure’ to perform – so it was nice to end with the shared portfolios.”
CAPTURING THE MOMENT
“Very well presented with a good balance between theory and practical work.”
INTRODUCTION TO LIFE DRAWING
“Really enjoyed this course and have gained greatly in confidence. Many thanks Cat”
EXPERIMENTAL LIFE CLASS
“Catherine is, as always, inspirational.”
THE GREAT BREWERY SEWING BEE
“Caren is just super – so approachable and knowledgeable, thanks so much.”
“The tuition was excellent, imaginative, and very helpful.”
EXPLORE RELIEF PRINTING
“Thanks, it was a great course. I have learnt a lot.”
DRAWING FOR BEGINNERS
“Thuline give me lots of inspiration. She explains her rules and methods really well. I always learn something very useful and I have gained an enormous amount of knowledge from her teaching.”
COLOUR AND EMOTIONS
“Frances has this way of getting in right at the beginning with her kind encouragement and useful advice. This raises your game and makes you feel good about your work.”
Images from a one day workshop with photgraper Colin Reynolds in Staveley: