If you want to be let into the best secrets about the art of writing and share time with the loveliest people imaginable, then Allaboutwriting is for you. I attended a short creative writing course in South Africa while temporarily working there, and it inspired me to start writing my novel. It’s a great privilege to learn from such talented people and have fun at the same time. – Clare Fermont, London, United Kingdom
I have been writing for most of my life and I have completed commercial writing courses at Tafe, university and through online providers. With a PhD in Creative Writing one could say I didn’t need another writing course. This was not the case. The Allaboutwriting course taught me more about the elements of creative writing (plot, structure, dialogue, characterisation, story) than nine years at university and my other writing courses combined. Whether you’re a complete beginner or a regular writer who wants to get past writer’s block or you simply want to finish something, the Allaboutwriting courses are a good place to start. As industry professionals Jo-Anne and Richard know what they’re doing and their feedback is always constructive and insightful. The exercises are challenging and thought provoking and the support material offers a wealth of good value to get you going. I highly recommend the Allaboutwriting courses. – Keryn Clark, Gold Coast, Australia
Do you dream about writing a novel? Or perhaps a screenplay? The story of your life? Do you just need a bit of a push, some practical support, the company of writers? Take a look at what Allaboutwriting has to offer. Take in the courses, the plans for 2017, the mentoring programme … oh, hang on a minute, these guys are based in South Africa! I’m in London, thousands of miles away (five and a half thousand, give or take a mile or two). Take no notice. Keep looking, because Richard and Jo-Anne are brilliant at what they do. These guys write, that’s the day job, and have been doing so for years. Whatever you need they can help. I can vouch for it. I had the advantage of meeting them when I was working in South Africa. But now I’m back in London I am still working with them – the online mentoring is just what I need to stop my biography wandering off into some distant dream. The writing week in Venice in 2016 was a joy. It just takes the click of a finger to start down the writing road. – Margaret Renn, London, United Kingdom
Writing was always a passion, simmering within me, but hidden behind all the other things that needed to be done. I signed up for the course, but not without some fear. I hadn’t done much creative writing, the last time likely in primary school. The course was challenging and liberating, it was fun while I wrote and frightening while I waited for comments. Jo-Anne and Richard managed to combine useful and skill-building criticism with encouragement and support for my developing writing skills. I am now participating in the mentoring programme and working on the first draft of my book. I’ve had to step back a couple of times in the process, but they are always there, with understanding and patience. I am growing as a writer, finding my own unique voice and crafting a piece of work which makes me proud. Without Jo-Anne, Richard and AAW, that passion might still just be at a simmer. – Danica Shaw, Windhoek, Namibia
I have been a student of Allaboutwriting since 2012, first on the “Intro” course, then the “Creative Writing Course”, and then I progressed to the “Mentoring Course”. Jo-Anne and Richard have taught me the skills needed to write, and in the process we have built up a relationship that I now cannot do without, as I attempt the 3rd draft of my first book. – Frankie Francis, Windhoek, Namibia
I have been an aspirant writer for many years, but like so many people, my writing took second place to the demands of family and work life. Through it all I nurtured my dream as best I could with the odd writing course, but it wasn’t until I was introduced to AAW in 2012 that I really began to believe in myself as a writer with purpose. Since then I have participated on AAW workshops, courses, retreats and mentorship programmes. In particular, AAW weekend writing courses and international retreats have excelled in providing facilitative, creative and productive environments in which to explore and develop one’s writing talent. Working with Jo-Anne and Richard has been an inspiration. Critical input, insight, humour and encouragement are all part of the magic. Above all, with unconditional patience and understanding, they keep my writing space open, always mindful that the journey can take many detours and byways as I fumble towards a writing project worthy of the emotional, intellectual and time investments needed to satisfy the demands of the novice writer within me. Finally, through a time of immense personal upheaval and metamorphosis, AAW has been a sanctuary and a safe place in which I believe I have grown, not only as a writer, but also as a human being. – Linda Price, Stow-on-the-Wold, United Kingdom
Living abroad in a non-English speaking country with limited access to material and courses can be isolating for a writer. Having always gained profound insight from the weekly Allaboutwriting newsletters, I was delighted to discover their online weekend course in short story writing. Together with other writers from abroad, I joined the South African team for a virtual writing challenge in which we had thirty-six hours to produce an anthology. The tools were effective and easy to navigate, making the process of long-distance communication flow smoothly. Interacting on a one-on-one basis with the moderators was a unique and uplifting experience. Their quick and spot-on feedback not only helped to refine and improve my short story telling skills, but also to pinpoint a weakness universal to all my writing which I could address. The challenge was invigorating and the assistance motivating. I highly recommend the Allaboutwriting courses for any writer who would like to learn new or polish existing skills. – Charmaine Pauls, Montpellier, France
The best gift I gave myself, after I decided I needed to get serious about writing, is the AllAboutWriting Creative Writing course. My technique and confidence level have improved momentously, more so since the Mentorship Programme on which I enrolled following the beginner’s course. It doesn’t hurt that Richard and Jo-Anne are very open people who at once feel like old friends. Don’t be fooled though, that doesn’t mean they hold back on constructive criticism. I love that because I joined the AllAboutWriting online community to seriously hone my writing skills, not to be nursed at expense of reaching my full potential. Nice as they are, their primary aim is to help you grow, that remains their focus. They will not only show your weaknesses, but also make a point of letting you know your strengths; that’s very encouraging for a learning writer. – Refiloe Mabejane, Maseru, Lesotho
In 2013, I was introduced to All About Writing via a friend. I joined the Creative Writing Course, after much umming and aahing and asking Richard and Jo-Anne questions like “Will someone steal my work?” and “I can’t bear the thought of other people reading my stuff”, but most of all, was the fear of criticism. Throughout the Creative Writing Course, we learned to be honest and kind to, and to thoroughly indulge our lust for writing in the assignments we were given. Richard and Jo-Anne were helpful, kind, and honest in their edits of our work, teaching us to use our words to the fullest. From there, I joined the mentoring program. The ups and downs of red and blue ink, harsh edits and constructive criticism would have me down in the dumps for days, until our Skype sessions, and then I would be buoyed up and full of energy again. Over time, I have become addicted to the writing, edits, and comments from fellow mentees. – Rhoda Jones, Windhoek, Namibia
I am now on my second draft, and even though life sometimes gets in the way, Richard, Jo-Anne and Trish are always supportive and kind, working with us. The Creative Writing Course was simply a toe in the water of learning how to write for me. The mentoring has been beyond amazing and I have learned so much. There is likely a chance that I will never stop.
Big cheers to both of you for being the best mentors I’ve ever had.
– Merle Grace author of the short story, ‘Disappeared’, chosen for inclusion in the ‘The Incredible Journey’ the 2015 Short Sharp Collection.
About the Creative Writing Course:
Discovering the Creative Writing Course has been one of the most satisfying landmarks in my life and certainly in my writing journey… [They] offer I believe an unequalled forum for prospective writers of all skill levels. I am hooked. – Clive Goodchild-Brown, Cape Town, South Africa
In their Creative Writing Course, Allaboutwriting really ‘delivered the goods’, as far as I was concerned. They kept me on-task with their regular emails. Coaches Jo-Anne and Richard provided focused critiques of my work, but at the same time were very warm and supportive. If you are a student of ‘people’, as I am, you will also enjoy and learn from participating with a diverse and talented student group in an on-line forum. The cherry on top was provided for me as a Canadian by the exchange rate; this world-class program was very reasonably priced. – Alex Moll, British Columbia, Canada
Allaboutwriting really did help me. A great deal. I’m very proud of my association with them. – Redi Tlhabi, author of ‘Endings and Beginnings’ and winner of the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award, Johannesburg, South Africa
The facilitators were just great together. They complemented one another beautifully, and gave a perfect mix of hard (though always constructive) criticism, and encouragement. Jo-Anne and Richard are nothing short of inspirational. But also so down-to-earth and approachable. – Tara Turkington, Johannesburg, South Africa
A perfect balance of exposition, illustration and exercise at every session. Constructive feedback that is evidence of the most extraordinary attentiveness, delivered with care and encouragement. Your tuition has moved my writing and confidence into a different league…and of course doing it whilst in the company of a delightfully eclectic bunch of soul mates is fabulous. I do not know how I will fill my Wednesday evenings when it is finished! – Liz Dewing, Cape Town, South Africa
… this course has changed lives. There are few things in life that I reckon can lay claim to this honour. We all sit with “that book” lying deep within us, though most of us remain too daunted, embarrassed and just plain inept to even get the first line down. Jo-Anne and Richard have (almost … they can’t write the whole book for you!) all the answers in their wonderful, warm, nurturing and “growing” writing courses. To me they couldn’t have thought of a more appropriate name, for they truly are – and offer – all about writing! They’ll certainly be seeing more of me in the future. – Ingrid van den Berg
I found most of the exercises very challenging. They forced me to push myself in directions I’d never contemplated I found out that I not only can write fiction, I can write descriptive fiction. I joined the course because I wanted tips on how to go about writing a novel. I got what I signed up for. However, I achieved a lot more. I’ve been a writer all my life. Because I’d never been taught to write, I never expected to learn to be a better writer. But I have. I honestly think – hope? – that I am a better writer than I was ten or so weeks ago. Thank you. – Marilyn Cohen de Villiers author of, A Beautiful Family and ‘When Time Fails’.
I found Allaboutwriting’s writing course expansive in style, educative in content and entertaining in delivery. Jo-Anne and Richard present a full gamut of learning and insight on creative writing seemingly effortlessly, with the welcome addition of real verve and wit. It was pure pleasure to participate. – Tim Cohen
Having sent three of my best-selling authors, Redi Tlhabi, Bonnie Henna and Gia Nicolaides, to Allaboutwriting and having been a student myself, I would recommend the course to anyone, from an aspiring writer to an already established writer looking to refresh and hone their skills. – Thabiso Mahlape, Jacana Media
A very positive experience! Richard and Jo-Anne always gave constructive criticism. The weekly exercises were the best part of the course. – Simamile Ndaba
Since I completed the Online Creative Writing course, I have experienced actual growth in my writing. The writing exercises are pivotal and I try to work on them daily. I still refer to the modules when reviewing my writing. I also redo the module assignments now and again. Jo-Anne and Richard are absolutely wonderful and delightful. They are patient, considerate and their feedback was always on point. Their feedback was insightful to where my strengths lie and what I need to work. I am more conscious about my writing. I do hope to make them proud someday. I would highly recommend this course. – Florence Onyanga, Nairobi
The course has been extremely beneficial for me. The course was sophisticated, well thought through and professional. – Lisa-Anne Julien
Prolific? Am I prolific as a writer? Never thought I was, but since attending the Allaboutwriting course in 2010-2011 I just can’t stop writing. My first novel won an important competition in Italy in 2015 and was published this year. Meanwhile, I have written another one and I am in the planning stages of a third. The thing is, that having written essays and reports all my life, I had always wanted to write fiction but didn’t think I could. I was right, of course, but Richard and Jo-Anne unlocked that urge in me. And I’m having a ball! – Enrico de Agostini, Ambassador of Italy to Zimbabwe
It was a positive experience. I always felt so invigorated after the sessions that I found it hard to go to sleep. – Mariki van der Walt, producer
Taking the Creative Writing course with Richard and Jo-Anne was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. It’s more than your average writing group where you just work on your own projects, share and discuss them. The course focuses on different features of good writing. Each week we looked at examples from different genres followed by a timed writing exercise and then sharing our work. Jo-Anne and Richard always kept the environment so productive and non-threatening that you felt free to just have fun with it and try – and all the wine and good food really helped add to the relaxed atmosphere they created. The end of each evening usually evolved into a discussion of good writing: books, television, movies, anything – over more wine, of course! I never wanted the evenings to end and was very sorry when the course was over. After the first course, I joined the monthly group so I could continue to write and talk about writing. It’s a great experience whether you are seriously working on a project, considering one or just want to be involved in thinking or talking about good writing. I couldn’t recommend the course more strongly. – Heather Hotaling, Melbourne
Overall very positive. I am a lot more confident of my writing since doing the course. – JP Potgieter, producer
Thank you for opening doors for me. I have walked away from the workshop with an open heart and a willingness to take risks . . . Thank you for your gentle creative spirit. – Warren, actor and lecturer in dramatic arts.
I’ve learnt really helpful, objective things – like you don’t fill your work with exposition. – Kate, talkshow host and travel writer
It gave us a chance to practise – it was great to write something and not feel a dreadful sense of insecurity. – Zann, publisher
It’s been great to learn how to tell a story, and to test what works and what doesn’t. – John, social worker
The practical part of this course was the most valuable. You think, ‘Well maybe there is a book in me, maybe I’ll get there’! – Mandy, journalist
My creative writing experience was extremely positive. The way the modules were divided was very helpful and the information for each module was to the point. I loved doing the exercises and the feedback was always excellent and encouraging. I also appreciated the fact that the feedback was always within a week and often even within a day. – Clare Kerchoff
I liked the fact that it felt like a journey winding up the side of a mountain. Although not always in clear view, I knew that I was climbing steadily towards the summit. The turns and the scenery along the way made it feel effortless. For me, the effectiveness lies in the way that the modules are constructed – almost ‘accidentally’ acquiring the essential tools and then, towards the end, it all comes together. It is amazing to me how Jo-Anne and Richard both manage to constructively, honestly and in the most positive way comment on the assignments. I know that acquiring skills, any skills, do not happen overnight and one has to keep practising. To then have people supporting you in this fashion is … well, clichéd or not, priceless!’ – Melanie du Plessis
I had written 80 pages before I did the course and then I realised it was just rough – the course has made me realise how to craft it and make it beautiful. – Sharon, midwife
I enjoyed being creative for the sake of being creative … There’s a lot I can pick up and take with me. – Mike, school principal
The nice thing about working with Richard and Jo-Anne is that they never impose their own voice on you, even in a subtle way. Working with them, you always get the feeling that they are trying to help you uncover your own voice, your way of telling the story and understanding the characters. They seem to weigh their suggestions very carefully against your vision and against where you want the story to go. I can only imagine that this comes from their own unique understanding of the position of the writer, and their sensitivity towards that. They are great teachers, and I have benefited immeasurably from their advice which is always practical, and always constructive. – Jackie, journalist
The course allowed me to release the long pent-up flow of creative writing that has been gummed up, for some years, with academic convention and footnoting imperatives. Incidentally, my academic writing has benefited too from this detox treatment. – Cynthia, senior lecturer in history
Thank you, so much, for what has been a truly excellent writing course! Each week I’ve come away with practical answers to questions that have plagued me in my writing to date. – Catherine McCormack
Richard and Joanne are fantastic teachers and their comfortable banter helps to make everyone feel at ease and of course serves to illustrate many of the points they teach very effectively. – Tanya Haffern
About the Thirty Day Writing Workout:
Thanks Richard and Jo for organising the best writing boot camp ever. I can’t believe the amazing value for money this has been. Apart from the encouragement, astute feedback and sheer fun of it all I think the real gift that the course imparts is forcing one to write every day… to the point that it’s become a habit for me (yay!). Which is what writing should be, among other things! – Adalbert Ernst
Thanks for all the input and hard work you put into the course. The feed back was great and very helpful. Reading all the contributions and the comments was very productive and inspiring. The course has been quite tough at times but inspiring nevertheless. I’ve learnt a lot and thanks Jo-Anne and Richard for the gentle way you have of pointing out how we could improve and encouraging us. – Lindsey Sanderson
Richard and Jo-Anne, thank you for a fantastic month. I have grown tremendously in my writing and the discipline of having to write every day has been an eye opener. – Howard Fox
I’m officially suffering from WWW (Writing Workout Withdrawal)! Thanks so much to Jo-Anne and Richard for a fab month of great exercises and kind but ‘on the nose’ feedback. And thanks to all of the writers on the group for a strong feeling of community, for inspiration and good laughs. Its been a great experience and I’ve learnt a lot! –Cathy Kelly
Thank you so much Richard and Jo-Anne. The course has been incredibly challenging, and I’ve learnt so much. I’ve finally (along the way somewhere) broken through my dialogue-hating-ceiling, so I’m very pleased with that! And thanks to all the participants. It’s been great to see this journey through with you all. Your talent, enthusiasm, commitment and honesty have been truly inspiring. – Megan Armstrong
Thanks for the brilliant course. Amazing what one can learn in 30 days and the discipline was also good. Every success to all the brilliant writers – I hope you all become famous! – Janet Lopes
Thank you Jo-Anne and Richard, for a brilliant 30 day workout. It was everything and more than I expected. As always, the feedback was incredibly thorough and helpful. I cringe at my mistakes but am so thrilled that they are pointed out. It makes the favourable comments even more special! I don’t think we’d find better mentors anywhere in the world, so am very grateful to be part of your writing family. I am going to try and keep the discipline myself now, but if there is a next one…I’m in. – Gail Gilbride Bohle
Thank you for a 30-day rollercoaster ride! It was exhilarating with pre and post adrenaline rushes. Sometimes downright exhausting. Throughout it all you guided us with not only the exercises, but also constructive feedback and support. I felt how my boundaries were stretched as I ventured into new areas and ways of expressing myself. This is an awesome course! Well done. I’ll miss the group interaction and quirky commentary. It was an eye opener to see how the same exercise could spark so many different pieces. Well written pieces which I often read with a great deal of envy! So, fellow workout-ees, thank you very much for a fun 30 days and let’s keep writing. – Melanie du Plessis
A big thank you from me to Richard and Jo-Anne. I have found the most wonderful gift in this: to make time to write. I could feel the magic happening, even thought I only had 30 minutes to plan and create. Your feedback was spot on, every time. Thank you. And to everyone else here, Thank you for reading, commenting, co-creating. It has been inspiring to read your work. Write write write! I’m sure we’ll see you/ read each others work again soon in future. – Merle Grace
Thank you Josie and Richard. You’ve taught me to honour the craft of writing by refusing to be beaten by the daily challenge of writing even when I didn’t have an idea in my head. You are extraordinary teachers. You’ve taken our writing seriously and over the past 30 days with gentle nudges you have shown us what was good and what still needed to be worked on. You’ve made us believe we could be REAL writers. I’ve enjoyed being part of this group of talented and stimulating writers. They have shown me that interesting writing is about incorporating both imagination and one’s life experiences into any topic. They’ve allowed me to meet characters who are vulnerable, brave, funny, romantic… and I’ve been charmed. – Angela van Schalkwyk
I feel sad today. Every morning for the past month I have had a surprise waiting for me. It’s like having Christmas for thirty days in a row! My daily workout has become integral part of my routine. I shall miss it dearly! I have gained so much knowledge, acquired many skills and been given a plethora of fine tools that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I thank you so much for your time, your inspiration, your patience and your understanding. You are the best mentors I could wish for. Thank you for sharing your profound knowledge and experience with me. – Julien Erwin
I thought the retreat was totally fabulous and it exceeded all my expectations. The venue was magnificent, allowing participants a huge amount of space in which to “operate” so that we could be private and meet at common venues like the patio, the dining room and the drawing room for the early morning discussions. Venice is a beautiful city and afforded a veritable feast of things to see and do when we were not busy scribbling away. Yes, I would definitely attend another retreat in Venice!
It felt like a family experience staying together, not in a hotel, but in a home steeped in history. The food and the joy that Marta took in providing delicious meals was a highlight. I loved that we weren’t rule bound and could do our own thing.
It was a wonderful indulgence to be able to step away from everyday responsibilities and to be simply a writer for six full days. All I had to do was think about the words I had written and to make my manuscript as good as it could be. The Palazzo Albrizzi’s beautiful, romantic setting was a wonderful backdrop in which to settle down each day to write. I enjoyed the companionship and catching up with other writers and aspirant writers, first thing in the morning around the big table for breakfast, then again at lunch, and on our first and last nights for dinner.
Jo-Anne and Richard’s approach is always professional and that their guidance is thoughtful, generous and pertinent. From day one, with their first short talk on an aspect of writing, I was motivated to commit myself to the process of the retreat.
It was a unique venue – rich in Venetian history, luxuriously appointed, spacious and no wi-fi problems. There were plenty of private areas where one could settle down to write and an inspirational view from every window and patio. The meals were extremely generous – no starving in a garret for us!
Thank you Jo-Anne, Richard and Trish for creating the space at Riccardo’s magnificent Palazzo Albrizzi. Your organisational skills, as well as all your excellent creative sessions, feedback, encouragement, insight, caring… simply astonishing. Magic is happening here and your writers look to you, hoping that this is the start of an annual tradition!
There it was, dominating the small campiello Albrizzi. The Palazzo, centuries of history peeling off its façade. Enormous, green wooden doors, that required some weight be applied to them, swung slowly into an eerily dark, cavernous entrance hall. Trish showed us to the magnificent room which was to be ours for the next six days. It was time. The days that followed were a blur of delicious food supplied by the amiable Marta, writing briefings as a group and the invaluable, one on one sessions with Richard and Jo-Anne. … an experience of a life time.
I finally met Richard whom I have heard a lot of good things about – the guy is a legend in the South African TV and Film Industry. I realised what I was doing wrong as a storyliner and what I should be aware of as a scriptwriter when approaching writing scenes.
– Nonhlanhla Simelane, writer and storyliner, Scandal
The fact that we had to actually “write” after a discussion session was a great idea. Writers write, and that did encourage us to put into practice immediately what we had discussed, learnt and even viewed from those shots. I can say that was theory & practice all in one, coupled with seeing what others had done before, for me that’s a GREAT coaching technique. I was actually doing a similar exercise today for one of my projects and all that I learnt and practised on Saturday came in very handy, I was smiling all the way and grateful for having attended. A big thank you to Richard for opening up your wealth of knowledge and understanding to us. As a young filmmaker, I consider that a great legacy that you are passing on to some of us. It’s an honour and a privilege.
– AmukelaMoyo, student AFDA
The fact that there was so much visual reference (the clips and the examples) as well as the three exercises with feedback immediately after, taught me more than just another stack of theory I can work through on my own. I learned more about dialogue than I’ve learned so far, including in my acting training, so it has been a massive help on more than one level.
– Johan Verwey, actor