Write & Shine

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Find out about Write & Shine workshops, online courses, retreats & the seasonal membership scheme.

Tell me about the Write & Shine seasons.

Write & Shine takes inspiration from the natural world, running workshops the align to the seasons. Our autumn season lasts September to November.

The programme runs virtually, with all Write & Shine workshops taking place via Zoom. Our face-to-face workshops are taking a pause, but we continue to use creativity to lift our spirits, enhance our energy levels and inspire us in this new medium.

Workshops are from 7.30 to 9am. To allow some time to settle in, we’ll be online from 7.15am so join us anytime from then.

How do the virtual workshops run?

To participate in a virtual workshop, you need to download Zoom onto your computer. Installation takes only a minute and is easy! When you visit the website, click on ‘Sign up, it’s free’ in the top right and follow the instructions. Please test out your audio and camera before the session.

The day before the workshop, we send the Zoom meeting link.

On the morning of the workshop, just make a cup of tea or coffee, grab your notebook and pen, and join the Write & Shine Zoom meeting anytime from 7.15am, ready for a 7.30am prompt start. We’ll close at 9am.

Join from a quiet and well-lit place (so you can be seen and heard) and turn on your video camera (as seeing each other’s faces helps create a good atmosphere).

Write & Shine sessions are suited to smaller groups, so we cap numbers to allow us to create a stimulating and supportive atmosphere for all who attend.

Book now

What is the membership scheme?

Our Write & Shine seasonal memberships aim to motivate you to make the most of your mornings. Being a member allows you to enjoy everything Write & Shine has to offer for a fixed fee during the season.

Think of it as a Write & Shine classpass, with added support, resources and inspiration offered during the season.

As a member, you will enjoy:
> Access to the writing sessions in our programme, including all the virtual workshops, guest tutor sessions and two morning writing retreats
> Unlimited access to our online library of courses, with new sessions added every week
> A beautiful limited edition print of our seasonal illustration
> An exclusive members-only workshop
> Special treats along the way. For spring, we posted all members a lovely box of creative goodies. In the past, we hosted a private tour of the beautiful London Library, with cocktails to conclude the evening. We’ve also held events in unique venues such as Babka cafe in Bloomsbury, and attended author talks.

Members will be sent a unique membership code, which can be entered at the checkout when booking each session.

Purchase your membership here.


What should I expect in a guest tutor session?

We invite artists, makers and thinkers along to Write & Shine to lead workshops on their particular areas of interest. In the past, we’ve welcomed graphic artists, poets and playwrights, a florist who guided the group through a session about the language of flowers and a photographer asking us all why we flinch when the camera points in our direction. Gemma is always present, with the guest tutor facilitating the workshop to offer a burst of creative stimulus.

This autumn, we’ve also invited several contemporary artists to run workshops and join us for events:

Bronia Evers will run a workshop on storytelling. Bronia tells stories using a dynamic mix of voice, movement, live music and puppets. Her work draws on the ancient traditions of oral storytelling, and she creates original stories inspired and informed by the natural environment.

Eelyn Lee will run a workshop on creativity and filmmaking. Eelyn is an award-winning artist and filmmaker who has exhibited across the UK and internationally. Her Chinese/English heritage motivates her interest in race, identity and ’othering’. She is currently developing a narrative feature film exploring empire and race with a twist on the western and horror genres.

Jackee Holder is joining us for the first Write & Shine Talk! Jackee coach and creativity expert, with a passion for trees and the natural world. She is the author of ‘49 Ways To Write Yourself Well’.

For previous seasons, we’ve welcomed a range of guest tutors to Write & Shine. Writer Philip Cowell hosted a workshop using the theme of ‘Friendship’ as a creative prompt. Inspiring Cornwall-based poet Katrina Naomi led a session all about Japan.

In 2019, we worked with community activist and renegade tour guide Saira Naiza from Living London for our sunrise walk. We also collaborated with Rita Evans for a session about sculpture, and playwright Annette Brook who ran a session looking at ways of creating women and non-binary characters.

Tell me more about the online courses.

We have a library of online courses designed to bring out your creativity. Our Write & Shine online subscriptions give you unlimited access to our library of courses for just £3.99 a month. Each course is inspired by a theme and is made up of four timed exercises. All you need is a pen, a notebook and a quiet space to allow your creativity to flow.

Courses are self-guided and we recommend allowing a minimum of 30 minutes for each session. You should begin each session in the morning and earlier than you’d otherwise rise. Find out more here!


Do you offer gift vouchers?

We do! Write & Shine gift vouchers make ideal presents for a loved one, friend, or colleague. We send these as printed or e-vouchers, so wherever they are in the world, you can offer your special someone invaluable space to reflect, craft and create. With a voucher, they can choose an inspiring writing workshops or a peaceful morning retreat. Our lovely gift vouchers are available for the seasonal membership, a one-year subscription to our online library, or for a workshop or retreat.

Give the gift of creativity! Terms and conditions: Each gift voucher contains an unique code to be entered at the checkout when booking. Vouchers are valid for 12 months from date of purchase. Gift vouchers are sent by email or UK post within 5 working days (free P&P). Buy vouchers now.


Are the workshops suitable for beginners?

Yes! Write & Shine offers an ideal space for both new and experienced writers to explore ideas in a safe environment. Write & Shine workshops last 90 minutes and encourage writing freely. This allows all kinds of unexpected ideas to emerge.

Rather than share the work we produce, we focus on generating new material and tapping into our imaginations in the morning. The chance for feedback from the tutor and other writers can help improve writing, but for some writers it can damage confidence or hinder creativity. After each workshop, participants leave with a few pieces to develop in their own time.

We offer around 20 places per session as we think Write & Shine sessions are suited to this size group. This allows us to create a stimulating and supportive atmosphere that benefits everyone who attends.

Our workshops are open to all and we pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming. We programme with diversity in mind. We’re a female-led company and our guest tutors are all women, women of colour, or LGBTQI+ artists. The poems, fiction extracts and creative work we share in a workshop are representative of society as a whole, foregrounding women’s voices, creatives of colour, LGBTQI+ artists and those living with disabilities.

Although we meet early, we are keen to tackle big subjects in the workshops: current affairs, politics, equality, feminism, environmental concerns and activism. Due to the format and content, we recommend workshop participants are over 16 years old.

Book now.


What time should I arrive for the workshops?

We suggest you join us fifteen minutes before the workshop starts. Arriving early will ensure you get the most from the session, can enjoy our calm, relaxing atmosphere, and still have plenty of time to choose your coffee and pastries. Some venues open especially for our workshop, so late arrivals may have to wait for entry. We know it’s early, but please arrive on time.


Where are the venues?

During the last five years, we’ve held workshops all over London. Our main venues are as follows:

Leicester Square workshops are held at Westminster Quaker Meeting House,

Tottenham Court Road workshops take place in the cafe at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road

Goodge Street workshops take place in BEAR Cafe at Paperchase Tottenham Court Road

Marylebone workshops are held at the Rooftop Kitchen, Alfies Antiques Market, 13-25 Church St, Marylebone, London NW8 8DT.

We hope to return to these wonderful spaces in 2021.


Are the venues accessible, for wheelchair users and other needs?

Westminster Quaker Meeting House, Paperchase and Waterstones Tottenham Court Road are fully accessible for wheelchair users. Quaker Meeting House has a step-free entrance. Waterstones has a step-free entrance and a lift down to the cafe.

However, while Rooftop Kitchen has step-free entrance and there is a lift available, the building is not fully accessible for wheelchair users due to steps leading to the cafe.

At Rooftop Kitchen, the only way to access our workshop area is by lift as the stairways are closed during our visits.

We will endeavour to ensure future venues are fully accessible. Please just get in touch to let us know about your access requirements and with any questions.


What should I bring to the workshop?

For virtual sessions, you’ll need to bring your own! For both, please join us with a pen or pencil and something to write on. Perhaps treat yourself to a special notebook to incentivise you to write? We encourage you to write by hand, as we think this helps create a calm and creative environment for all. But if you prefer, you’re welcome to use a laptop, although make sure it’s fully charged as there is limited access to plug sockets in our venues.


What happens during the morning writing retreat?

We create a comfortable, peaceful setting for you to write independently. Bring your work-in-progress or a blank notebook ready to fill. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll get done in a couple of hours! There’ll be quick introductions at 7.30am, and the session will be concluded at 9.30am with a facilitated discussion about our writing, challenges and successes and plans for the future.

Before you arrive, you might like to set some specific goals for the retreat. Then you won’t spend the first moments deciding what to do! Remember that in the morning, you’re more sensitive to the sights and sounds of the world. So it can be the best time to think and imagine, with afternoons more suitable for editing and researching.


Can we book a Write & Shine workshop for our organisation?

Absolutely. Write & Shine runs single workshops for organisations across London. We’ve shared our love of mornings at Charing Cross Library, Gunnersbury Museum and in Paperchase’s flagship store on Tottenham Court Road. We’ve also hosted sessions at Morning Gloryville’s dawn dance party; in a circus tent for Canary Wharf Arts and Events; and after a Pilates class at the Adidas Studio London for women on Brick Lane.

Our host at Better Bankside, Daisy Lindlar, said of the workshop: “It was so popular we had to start a waiting list! The content was dynamic and interesting, with attendees scribbling away for the full hour and a half. I would definitely recommend Write & Shine to businesses looking to offer a unique professional development experience to their employees.”

Our rates are reasonable and we’re able to adapt the concept to suit your requirements. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss how your company or venue could benefit from a Write & Shine session.


Who runs Write & Shine?

The Write & Shine programme is led by writer & early riser Gemma Seltzer. She set up Write & Shine in 2015, following a collaboration with a photographer in 5am London, which captured the city during the first part the day. Gemma makes all kinds of literary projects and has enjoyed facilitation, performance and writing commissions from organisations such as Age UK, BBC Radio 3, Tate Modern & the Venice Biennale.


What are the advantages of creative writing?

We believe that writing regularly boosts your wellbeing, productivity and working life, including by:
* increasing your self-awareness and capacity for innovative thinking
* improving your ability to persuade and motivate with words
* developing your creative, descriptive and analytical skills through reviewing different pieces of published writing
* feeling energised by writing rapidly and continuously, letting go of doubts and self-criticism
* exploring new ways to express yourself, to have faith in your own voice and enhance your ability to judge your own writing.

If you do all this in the morning, it will set you up for the rest of the day.


Which creative writing resources do you recommend?

Oh there are so many inspiring titles we’ve enjoyed and used in Write & Shine sessions! We like:
* Stephen King’s On Writing offers a great perspective on the tools needed to create fiction.
* Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones is all about writing swiftly and freely to learn to write well.
* The Writer’s Voice by Al Alvarez is a fascinating set of essays analysing how authors such as Sylvia Plath and Jean Rhys uncover and develop their distinct style.
* The Paris Review interviews with writers give thrilling insights into the craft of writing. Check out early-riser Toni Morrison’s piece!
* Finally, the New Yorker’s fiction podcasts are tremendous.


Tell us more about your love of mornings.

Of course! We’ve had plenty of publicity for our morning writing programme in UK & international press. You can read more about the beginnings of Write & Shine, and how we spend our time in the early hours, here:

* Tips for Tapping into Morning Creativity (The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, 2019)
* Write & Shine for Better Mental Health (Paperchase, 2018)
* It’s Time to Write (Writers’ Bloc, 2018)
* Things to Do: Write & Shine (Time Out, 2018)
* Inspire: Gemma Seltzer of Write & Shine (Less Stress London, 2017)
* Q&A with Gemma Seltzer of Write & Shine (whitefox, 2016)
* Discover your Creative Skills (Psychologies magazines, 2016)
* Write & Shine (A Little Bird, 2015)
* Where London Looks Best in the Morning (Londonist, 2015)


What about refunds and cancellations?

We’re sorry but no refunds are available. Transfers to future workshops or courses may be possible with more than 48 hours notice. This allows us to offer a place to someone else on the waiting list or promote the slot to our community. We’re a very small organisation and while we’ll try to accommodate any changes in your circumstances, we do need this notice to ensure we can cover costs including venue hire, refreshments and paying guest tutors. This also helps keep our programme sustainable. Please contact Gemma at hello@write-and-shine.com to discuss changing your booking.


Which online payment method do you use?

We use Stripe for our online payment system, which is a fast, safe and reliable service. You won’t need to set up an account or leave the Write & Shine website to pay. We won’t have access to your card details, and can’t obtain the details of your bank account. All payments are made over a secure connection.


Privacy Policy

The General Data Protection Regulation came into effect on 25 May 2018. We regularly review all our data and privacy policies to ensure we adhere to the law.

The only data we collect is the information you submit when you sign up to the newsletter (name and email address). You will receive emails from Write & Shine about your booking or subscription, but you will not be added to the mailing list unless you have first consented by signing up through our website. Similarly, if you purchase a gift voucher to be sent by email or post, the details will not be added to our mailing list. We occasionally send gifts to members and workshop attendees by post. In these cases, we will only use the postal address given for that activity. We are committed to ensuring that all your personal information is kept private and protected, and promise never to pass on your details to third parties. You can unsubscribe from our newsletter at any time by clicking the link in the newsletter footer or by contacting us at hello@write-and-shine.com.

We use MailChimp as our marketing automation platform. By joining the mailing list, you acknowledge that the information you provide will be transferred to MailChimp for processing in accordance with their Privacy Policy and Terms.

We use Stripe and Paypal to process all payments. We do not hold your information anywhere other than Stripe and Paypal after an payment has been made. You’ll receive a confirmation email from Stripe or Paypal when you make a booking, but you will not be placed on our mailing lists without your consent, nor will data collected in the booking process be used. Additionally, we keep personal information about subscribers on a secure database. All passwords are encrypted. We do not store any financial information. Here is Stripe’s Privacy Policy & Paypal’s User Agreements and Privacy Policy.

We promote our courses on the social platform Meetup. You’ll receive an initial confirmation email from Meetup and a welcome email about the event from Write & Shine when you make a booking, but you will not be placed on the Write & Shine mailing list without your consent, nor will data collected in the booking process be used. Meetup’s Privacy Policy is here.

Google Analytics uses cookies (small pieces of text saved to your hard disk) in order to collect information about how visitors use write-and-shine.com. Write & Shine uses the information to help improve the website. The cookies collect information in an anonymous form, including the number of visitors to the site, where visitors have come to the site from and the pages they visited. Google will store this information. Google’s Privacy Policy is here. Most browsers are initially set to accept cookies. It is possible to configure your browser to refuse cookies or to raise an alert when they are sent.

If you have any concerns regarding privacy issues, please contact us on hello@write-and-shine.com.