Try before you buy: a Well/Written course Freebie!

In my previous post, I outlined why I had created an online writing course called ‘Well/Written’. Now I want to show you the kinds of things you can expect on the course.

Attached to this post is FREE PDF of a sample workbook. It gives you a flavour of my approach and the kinds of activities we will be doing on the course.


Course begins 16th September 2019. Ends 18th October 2019.

My guiding principles for Well/Written:

The first principle is – work from your strengths. This course is not about me telling you ‘how to write’. It is about giving you the space, time, and support to hone and reconnect with your best writing skills. You are a good writer. It is often the context and pressures surrounding our writing that make us fear and loathe it!

The second principle is – non-judgement. You are not your writing. I am not judging your writing. You are good enough. Let’s find out what is making you stuck – sometimes.

The third principle is – try it out. Play about. You might need to change some of your writing practices. We all evolve as individuals, as researchers. Our circumstances change, the requirements of our writing changes. You might need to write for a different audience. You may also be – dare I say it – bored – with the kinds of writing you are doing. How do we get around that?

The fourth principle is kindness – to yourself and to others. Let go of the guilt an angst of writing. What is it that you write for? Why do you want to write? Let’s rediscover and reconnect with what it is writing can be – for us, for change.

The fifth principle is time – as in, give yourself permission to make the time. Even if it is a 2 minute exercise! Accept the days you are exhausted. Accept the times you can’t write for hours. How can we work around these – inevitable – blocks. How do we take the frustration away…

But why creative writing approaches?

A frequently asked question I’ve had about the course is ‘why’ – why should academics, or other professional writers, try a creative approach? What good will that do?

While I am of the school of thought that we are all – and need to be – creative in our writing, it is true that there are crucial distinctions between academic and creative writing. For me, the key differences are based in the ways that academic writing is bounded within a number of parameters; disciplinary; journal or outlet guidelines; requirements e.g. REF; evidence based and driven; it might follow a ‘structure’; it makes a ‘contribution to knowledge’; the methods and ethics are transparent – often stated as a section.

Yet, good creative writing is also clear, engaging, well-researched and makes a contribution – it engages our mind and imagination. It helps us imagine alternatives. I hope good academic research does the same – it is a force for personal and collective transformations.

So, what good is a blended approach?

I came to this blended approach because I was stuck with my academic writing. When I was tired – ok, exhausted. As I became more unmotivated. It was affecting my ability to sit down and write.

I needed a way to reconnect. So, I started online creative writing courses. For no other reason than to let myself ‘just write’ and see. The core aspects from this that I bring to my course are the sense of liberation, non-judgement, experimentation. Of not worrying about what you write. This is not ‘wasting’ time. This is not a ‘distraction’. Rather; it is a way for you to get your writing muscles going; get your analytical skills reawakened. It will make your ‘academic’ writing easier.

This also led me to engage in a new research field and way of writing. It resulted in writing my ‘engaged with’ academic article ever. This has in turn, led to more engagement with my other research – as searches and GoogleScholar citations reveal.

I turned to auto-ethnography and ethnographic fiction.

You see, blending these approaches and practices has been there all along.

Well/Written in 4 weeks: a snapshot of the course

If this post – and the FREEBIE below – have sparked your interest in the course, below is a quick overview the content.

Each week you get a Webinar from me outlining what we will be doing alongside my experiences of making change via the approach. This arrives in your inbox at 9am on a Monday. You will then get a daily prompt and check in from daily, Mon-Fri. Finally, we have a weekly online ‘hangout’ on a Thursday at 8pm (and this will be available as a recording on catch up) where we can support, encourage and engage our community. Accountability with kindness is the name of the game.

Week 1: Why do you write? You will receive a workbook with a series of practical and motivational exercises to work through. Exploring why you write is crucial. It is something we need to revisit as we change and grow. As our circumstances change.

Week 2: What do you write? In this workbook, you use your own writing to understand better what you are writing. Is the outlet or approach dictating your style? Are you in need of a new project? Perhaps, you are stuck on a middle PhD chapter? Maybe you are working for someone else? Understanding what it is you are writing will help you with goal setting and adapting your mindset.

Week 3: Who are your writing for? A core workbook encouraging you to understand your intended – and actual – audience/s. Much of the angst with writing is we often don’t really know who this is. Can we be more intentional in who we want to read our writing? How will that change your practices? Can we have this freedom in the context of the REF and other workplace demands?

Week 4: How do you want to write? How do we get you there? In the final week, the workbook gets down to the nitty gritty. Where do you want to be after this course? Do you need to change? Or, do you need to be kinder and accept that your writing is unique to you – let’s work from our strengths and make that our starting point.

Further – fun – resources on writing & making change:

Cara Alwill Leyba (2018) Like she owns the place: unlock the secret of lasting confidence, Penguin.

Jessica Bell (2017, 2nd edition) Show and tell in a nutshell: demonstrated transitions from telling to showing, Vine Leaves Press, Melbourne. 

Ayse Birsel (2015) Design the life you love: a step-by-step guide to building a meaningful future, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley. 

Barbara Kamler & Pat Thompson (2014) Helping doctoral students write: pedagogies for supervision, Routledge. [persuading an octopus into a jar and other metaphors – chapter 3 & chapter 5 reconsidering the personal]

C. S. Lakin (2015)  The 12 key pillars of novel construction: your blueprint for building a solid story, Morgan Hill, CA ( [esp. part 3, chapter 27 Brainstorming to build strong pillars]

Danielle LaPorte (2012) The Firestarter Sessions: a soulful and practical guide to creating success on your own terms, Hay House. [Parts 1 & 2]

Nina Lykke (ed) (2014) Writing Academic Text Differently: Intersectional methodologies and the playful art of writing, Routledge Advances in Feminist Studies & Intersectionality, Routledge. [Part 2 – Learning to Write Differently, chapters 6, 7, 8, 9, 12]

Rowena Murray (2011) Writing for academic journals, 2nd Edition, McGraw Hill. [chapter 8 Dialogue and Feedback]

Sarah Tasker (2019) Hashtag Authentic: finding creativity and building a community on instagram and beyond [section 1 on storytelling]

Pat Thompson & Barbara Kamler (2013) Writing for peer reviewed journals: strategies for getting published, Routledge.  [chapter 1 The Writer & Chapter 2 The reader] 

Pat Thompson & Barbara Kamler (2016) Detox your writing: strategies for doctoral researchers, Routledge. [on identity work of writing & chapter 10 Writing as the Expert Scholar] 

Helen Sword (2017) Air and light and time and space: how successful academics write, Harvard University Press (esp. Chapter 5 The Craft of Writing; Chapter 10 The Pleasure Principle]. 


Dr Pat Thompson Patter – amazing writing tips

Lucy Sheridan ‘The Comparison Coach’

Podcasts/Vlogs: Prof. Tara Brabazon – for all things PhD and research related

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