True North Writing Workshops

We have been working with True North, a group of writers and Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellows Anna Barker, Tina Pepler and Marina Benjamin, who specialise in transposing creative writing techniques into the context of academic writing. 

Thank you for those who registered their interest, dates are now confirmed and and are open for registration.

The following groups are eligible to attend the training

+ Reading like a writer - FULLY BOOKED

Tuesday 12 February - 30 Russell Square, Birkbeck

Suitable for first and second year researchers (up to year 4 if part time)

Academic writing the creative way: How can the creative writer’s tool kit make your academic writing engaging, compelling, and narrative-led, while admitting no loss of rigour? This one-day workshop will introduce you to a range of writerly skills through which you can make your presence felt on the page. Crucially, it will help you begin to find your voice as a writer – that is, the quality of distinctiveness that will give your work the stamp of originality and draw the reader in. Using plenty of examples, and a mixture of discussion, pair work, and writing exercises – including free-writing and call-ins – we walk you through how to write irresistible openings to your chapters, and sections within chapters; how to bridge that imaginative high-wire writing within a robust narrative structure; and how to identify and privilege your questions, and keep track of them. In all this, we draw directly and broadly on our own professional ‘toolkit’.

+ Think like an editor - FULLY BOOKED

Tuesday 12 March - MRC, Kemble Street

Suitable for first and second year researchers (up to year 4 if part time)

How do you step outside your own work to view it with a cool editorial eye that lets you lift your writing to a new level?

This workshop addresses the all too common problem of front-loading the writing process, whereby some students spend the bulk of their time researching, leaving their write-up until the end, with too little time for thinking. We instill early on a habit of multiple drafting and polishing. We teach you how to troubleshoot your own work, to use direct, active language, and zoom in on significant details. We cover the link between the particular and universal, and the practice of knowing where the reader is at any given point. The day will be full of red-pen exercises, using examples of both good and weak academic writing.

+ Narrative Craft ‘Stretch Immersive' - FULLY BOOKED

Sat 22, Sun 23 & Sat 29 June - Malet Street, Birkbeck

Suitable for mid to late-stage PhD students

This extended workshop runs over two consecutive weekends, with set ‘homework’ and individual tutorials taking place during the intervening week. It is designed to help you build structural integrity and argumentative coherence into your PhD at a time when you might feel overwhelmed by the many pathways your research opens up to you. This ‘muddled middle’ phase of writing is also a very creative time, and the professional writers leading this workshop will help you harness your best ideas and inspirations so that you can review and refresh your commitment to your thesis.

First Weekend:

Day One: Structure, coherence and flow. You will focus on finding the through-line in your work, plotting your argument, revisiting, revising and ranking your key questions, and identifying the nature of your personal investment in your work – since that is linked both to impetus and to your direction of travel.

Day Two: Voice, openings and ‘connective tissue’. This day is devoted to the business of making yourself present in your work.

Second Weekend:

Day Three: Embracing your obstacles. This final day will embed the shift in self-assurance achieved over the week. We focus on articulating - and sometimes embracing - the obstacles in your way, and showing how metaphor and genre can deepen your research and add nuance, without generating needless complexity.

By the end of the course:

You will have developed a tool kit for navigating your way through the creative chaos that often characterises PhDs at this stage.

You will have learned some of the creative writing techniques that can amplify the most persuasive, compelling and engaging aspects of your research – with no loss of academic rigour.

You will know how to think like a writer, and understand the interplay between investment, structure, and your personal writing practice.

You will better know what you can bring to your research that is distinctive and original.

“This has been the most useful training so far in the PhD. I think this will be a fantastic turning point in my project…”
— 3rd year PhD student retreats (Shepherds Dene 2018)
I anticipated that this retreat would be helpful, but it wholeheartedly exceeded my expectations. My approaches to writing have not simply been improved, but completely shaken up in the best way possible. Thank you!
— from 3rd year PhD student retreats (Shepherds Dene 2018)

Terms and conditions

By registering below you are requesting a place on this training programme or selected sessions that form part of the programme. A member of the CHASE team or the workshop leader will contact you in due course to confirm that a place has been allocated to you. If you no longer require a place, please email as soon as possible so your name can be removed from the registration list.  

If you are allocated a place but can no longer attend, please email so that your place can be reallocated. CHASE training is free to attend and events are often oversubscribed with a waiting list. Failure to notify us of non-attendance in good time (ideally 5 days prior to the workshop/programme) means your place cannot be reallocated and may result in your access to future CHASE training being restricted.

Please add your details below if you would like to be added to the waiting list

Name *