People’s Friend Writing Workshop, Manchester

The People's Friend writing workshop group in Manchester.

I feel so much anticipation as I prepare for each People’s Friend writing workshop, both in terms of its organisation and then before the event. And look, last day of September and that’s them all done again already! For this year, at least…

Beforehand, I wonder about who will attend each one. New writers just starting out and wanting to learn as much as they can before they try writing their first story? Or maybe it’s already written and now they just need to pluck up the courage to actually post it. That first time is a big step.

We’ve had both of these categories of writer at every People’s Friend writing workshop this September, as well as established writers wanting to refresh their awareness of what exactly we’re looking for, which changes and evolves all the time.

I think my favourite part of any workshop is – well, actually I have two. The first is when everyone has arrived and I ask them to introduce themselves. It’s great just hearing about people’s lives past, and the future they see ahead of them in terms of writing. Some people have fascinating stories.

And my other favourite is when either I or my guest writer has given them an exercise to do – and you could hear a pin drop. Heads bent, pens scribbling away….The concentration is so complete you can almost see it. And then those who are feeling brave read out their work at our sharing session – and the ideas that come out! Wow! I’ve been blown away by some this season, and I’m really hoping the writers continue their work and write the whole stories. For The People’s Friend, of course!

Now, it’s all very well me telling you how fab it all is, but if you want to read about the experience from the other side of the desk, Elaina James attended our York workshop and has blogged about it here.

So, today’s main pic shows my last group in Manchester on Monday of this week, and this one below is my guest Lydia Jones – and Gemma, a character she had stranded at the top of a zip-wire launch pad and we had to decide how and why. Great fun!


Thanks to everyone who joined us this September. I look forward to hearing from you all. And special thanks to Helen, Kate and Lydia for the fun and informative ways they thought of to explain and show – show don’t tell, remember! – the writing process.


Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.