It’s funny how we refer to 2020 eyesight as vision that is clear, sharp and focussed. The year 2020 has been anything but this. Every day has brought new challenges, new restrictions, and, in our minds, new opportunities. We began 2020 planning the inaugural Writers’ Weekend as an in-person event, to be held in Winchester…then Covid entered the picture. After a few moments of panic, we realised that we had the software expertise in our team to transition to a fully virtual event and, all of a sudden, the fog lifted and we had a clear way forward.
We worked long hours identifying and integrating software that was easy to use and allowed engagement between attendees and speakers. We offered Braindates, where attendees could chat with others with similar interests in small groups. We offered workshops, talks, readings and keynotes with time for questions. And we held over 600 one-to-one appointments where attendees received feedback from literary agents, commissioning editors and author mentors. We received amazing feedback from attendees. You loved having your one-to-one sitting in a quiet space at home with a cup of tea, rather than a busy hall with the distraction of others chatting around you. You loved posting topics of interest and joining Braindate groups to chat with others around the world. Some of you have formed writing groups from your Braindate experience and are still regularly meeting! You took a risk and read your work out loud to others at the Open Mic and were embraced with warm and positive applause and support from your fellow writers. You enjoyed intimate keynote talks by Eoin Colfer and Lissa Evans as they invited you into their space to share their lives with you.
We’ve done a lot of thinking about the 2021 Writers’ Weekend. Should we hold it in-person? Will enough people be immunized by June? Is it wise to hold mass gatherings? Should we skip a year and cross our fingers that we can start up again in person in 2022? Or should we forge ahead to plan another virtual event, using all that we learned this year and hopefully make it even better? Well, as you now know, we’ve decided to hold it virtually again, but we’re introducing an exciting new twist to the programme.
We will be offering a virtual Writers’ Circle option, which will begin five weeks before the Writers’ Weekend in mid-May. Those that choose to join a Writers’ Circle will be grouped with up to six others who are writing in the same genre, but at mixed levels. The groups will be self-running, but kick-off with an online session explaining how to run an effective writing group, share work between you, facilitate timings, and give supportive and constructive feedback. The group members will decide when and how often they’d like to meet during the five weeks, considering that those in your group could be from anywhere in the world. And at the end of the five weeks, each person in the group will have a one-to-one with a literary agent or author editor of their choice. It’s an excellent opportunity to hone your writing, receive both peer and professional feedback and build connections with other writers! We’ll also be holding a full weekend programme of talks by industry experts, keynotes, one-to-ones with literary agents and commissioning editors, readings and an open mic.
So, 2020 may have begun in a fog, but we now have a vision to bring you a fantastic virtual Writers’ Weekend from 24-27 June, plus Writers’ Circles beginning on 16 May. Please keep an eye out for new blogs, join our email newsletter list (found in the About section of the website), follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Reddit at WritersWkend. The full programme will be announced and booking will open at the end of February, 2021.
We look forward to seeing you in June,
Sara, Georgina, Holly and Dan