A year in the life: Colchester WriteNight

A very happy writing new year from us at Colchester WriteNight. It’s 2018 already but I’m still reflecting on WriteNight in 2017, and planning the coming year ahead.

Early in the year, it was exciting to be part of Essex Book Festival. We invited a panel of three local guest authors – Sarah Armstrong, Liz Trenow and Nicola Werenowska – to join us for our event. We asked them about their writing practise, focusing particularly on place in their work. The influence of family history, tales and locations emerged as a common theme for inspiring new story-writing. Our guests all contributed to the activities we took part in. There were over thirty attendees scribbling away!




In April, Adrian May, Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Essex, joined us and led The Lyric Issue. He gave us his thoughts, ideas and tips – discussing the influence of folk tales, family, community and continuity, and the importance of contributing to an existing body of work much bigger than yourself in writing.




In May, WriteNight moved. After six fab years at 15 Queen Street we packed our bags and relocated to Firstsite Art Gallery, so our first WriteNight there had to be The Art Issue. We held an interactive session on the story of Julie Cope, before Grayson Perry’s actual tapestries came to the gallery later in the year!




We continued with the art theme in June, and looked at the exhibition of documentary photographer Ed Gold (with his permission) to inspire our own stories. It was great to have the artwork there at the gallery for us to wander, ponder, and use for our own writing ideas.



(A photo of a photo by Ed Gold – thank you)


Doug Smith led the summer sessions on twitter pitching and story openings. They were very well received, Doug packed in the ideas and challenges. (Doug has just published a book of scary short stories for children which you can find here.)

A L Kennedy joined us for a spellbinding pre-November session, and to a full house. What can I say about this? She talked, shared thoughts with a captive audience, and provided an activity that had us with our eyes closed and thinking about a character in terms of senses. Developing and knowing your characters is one of the key ideas I’m still thinking about.



(pics Patricia Borlenghi – thank you)


WriteNight hosted National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) write-in sessions throughout November and we were all ‘winners’ in one sense or another. Inspired by ALK, Nanowrimo.org, and each other, we powered ahead and got those words down. We celebrated at our annual birthday/Christmas bash in December, and shared a mixture of our writing or writing that inspired us, as well as lots of party treats. It’s one of my favourite events of the year!




Throughout 2017 we welcomed new writing friends, enjoyed our old friends, and missed some that weren’t with us. Thanks to all that have been along, made us smile, supported, given up their time and written with us. I’m looking forward to what 2018 will bring – there are some ideas brewing, but I know for sure there will be lots of awe-inspiring stories written in great company.

If you haven’t been along yet, or can’t make it in person, our community group page on Facebook is here. You’re very welcome to join us.

We’re also on Twitter as @ColWriteNight.




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