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Why should you take a writing course at CSM?

Central Saint Martins Short Courses,
Written by
Hamish Chohan
Published date
22 January 2020

Anniki Sommerville is a former creative writing student who attended one of Joanna Pocock’s inspiring courses. A part-time writer, we were incredibly excited to hear that Anniki’s first novel, Motherwhelmed, was published last year; we caught up with her to find out more about her time at CSM.

“I think taking a writing course is a great first step into the world of writing and getting used to people reading and commenting on your work.”

Anniki Sommerville

What short course did you study at Central Saint Martins and why did you choose it?

I did a Saturday course in creative writing, with Joanna Pocock, and I picked the course because I wanted to develop my confidence in writing.

How did the course benefit you creativity and career?

It made me much more confident in my ability and I enjoyed sharing my work with my fellow class mates. I think taking a writing course is a great first step into the world of writing and getting used to people reading and commenting on your work.

How would describe the way tutor, Joanna Pocock, teaches?

Joanna is very relaxed and encouraging. I felt like she was brilliant at giving constructive feedback - ways to improve your work - this is super important as you can quickly feel demoralised otherwise.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about taking a writing course at CSM?

I'd tell them to go for it. Everyone thinks they have a book in them but if you do a course you can find out whether writing is actually something you enjoy and want to do long term.

Anniki Sommerville's Motherwhelmed

Motherwhelmed is out now and has been described as, “The most hilarious, relatable novel all women need to read in 2019!”

Joanna Pocock is writer and tutor who has delivered Beginners Creative Writing, Creative Writing for Beginners and the Life Writing and Writing Life Short Course. Here Joanna explains more about her courses, the amazing environments students get to work in and how the courses are created for students of all levels.

Joanna Pocock's Surrender

Students from all walks of life, from a variety of backgrounds, and from all corners of the globe have been part of my Beginners Creative Writing course. The multiplicity of voices is an absolute gift to writers. Of course, the word “Beginner” is a difficult one to define! Many people who come on my course have done some writing, even if it has consisted of hastily scribbled notes in a journal, or fragments of stories tucked away in a drawer. Some students have never done any writing but are avid readers and are inspired to give writing a go because of their love of books. Others write for a living and come from the worlds of academia, marketing or journalism and want to push their writing into more creative forms. The course has evolved over decades so it is flexible enough to allow students to explore and find their voices, while being structured enough to challenge those who have a bit more experience.

After my “Beginners” class, students sometimes carry on the momentum that is created in the classroom and go on to start their own writing and workshopping groups, taking the critical skills they have learned while workshopping in class out into the world. Anniki Sommerville's Saturday morning class was one such group. Many of them carried on meeting to workshop their writing after the course had ended. As a result, some went on to write for a living. Each group is unique and each one brings its own dynamic. The “Beginners” course is a safe space for writers who might have taken a break from their practice and want to ease themselves back in, or it might be a chance for people who have been writing somewhat secretly to share their writing publicly. For those who are already writing, it can deepen their practice and foster more discipline.

I teach a variety of classes so that those who can't dedicate eight or ten weeks can still sharpen their pens and put words to paper.

My week-long intensive courses take place during the day freeing up evenings for family or other commitments. I also teach weekend classes which can work as a taster for students who might want to try their hand and see what kind of writing might suit them. These tend to centre around flash fiction or the writing of very short prose. My Life Writing and Writing Life Short Course looks at the ever expanding genre of narrative non-fiction which encompasses memoir and travel to reportage and political explorations to nature writing and experimental word craft.

All my courses share the following qualities: a love of the written word, a sense of curiosity, a desire to share ideas, the creation of a safe and supportive environment, and the fostering of each individual voice.

Joanna Pocock

Feeling motivated to start writing! Whether you’re just starting out or looking to refine your skills all of Joanna’s courses have spaces available to book onto right now.

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