Teaching Write Away in Tuscany

Angela Petch, herself a successful writer with a book deal, and her lovely husband Maurice picked me up at Perugia airport to be a tutor for their Creative Writing workshop in Tuscany. Although we had only communicated via email and WhatsApp before, they immediately felt old friends. Their Italian home snuggles in the Tuscan hills and flanks the banks of a river you can bathe in. It may have been September, but it was warm enough to take a dip; my only complaint being the tiny fish nibbling at my legs, but hey some people pay a lot for that.

The author and her host sharing a meal
Pizza on the way back from the airport
The author swimming in a pool in the river
A dip in the river only two minutes from our open-air classroom

Fast forward two days of talks and preparation until the first participants drifted in. They were a lovely bunch coming mostly from the UK, but one lady travelled from Switzerland. Some were published writers, others complete beginners and it was my task to bring out the best in them.

We met each morning under a Tuscan sun and worked through setting, dialogue, character, plot and story, ways to get published and finding your voice before a mostly home-grown lunch prepared by Angela and Maurice awaited us. In fact, Angela is not only a talented writer but an amazing cook, who spoiled tutor and students all week with delicious meals and local wine. She also booked some astounding meals at local places and a trip to Arezzo, which we used for a setting exercise.

Discussing character development by the river
Developing characters
Groupwork outdoors
Our open-air classroom

The sessions were a combination of discussions and ensuing exercises and I was more than surprised at the standard of work the students read out, especially the newbies, one of whom won the Flash Fiction competition on our last evening together! It just goes to show that you never know what talent has been buried away in you all these years.

People used the afternoons to write, relax or for meet me for one-to ones. Feedback forms confirmed that people thought the whole package was excellent value for money - the newbies even want to come again - but Angela and I are tweaking the format somewhat for future workshops. We want to keep the sessions shorter so that people can get up and move around a little more and incorporate more writing exercises and partner work. We won’t offer as many trips like one with an art historian to local churches, which didn’t get any takers because people wanted to either write or chill which was after all what they there for.

Two participants writing outside
These two got up very early to work
Participants enjoying a lively discussion
Our newbies certainly enjoyed themselves

Write Away in Tuscany was a great success and an unforgettable experience for tutor and participants alike, which we hope to repeat in September next year! If you’re interested, get in touch:

Tuscan landscape
The breath-taking surroundings of #WriteAwayinTuscany