Press Release: West Dean tutor offers top 5 tips to develop your writing skills

The current situation has undoubtedly made people want to pursue their inner passions, and would-be writers will be thinking about whether they have the capability to write a short story or a novel. To coincide with National Writing Day (Wednesday, June 24, 2020), Mark Radcliffe, Subject Leader of the MA Creative Writing and Publishing two-year part-time course at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation is sharing his top five tips to start Creative Writing.

  • Make a time to write. Let’s face it you do it for so many other things, cooking, working, walking, reading, yoga, dusting, making tea… so just decide that writing is something worth a little of your time and set that time each day, sit down when it comes and put words down on to paper.
  • Writing doesn’t happen in the head, it happens through the hands so let the hands do the work, when you write you will find that after a few minutes the hands will take over. Let them. Pat Barker said: ‘The really good ideas are generated in the process of writing’ let them come and follow them where they go.
  • Don’t judge. Frankly it is just a distraction, an excuse to stop being productive. Just write, you can read it later.
  • As a general rule writing what you see works far better than writing what you think. As Chekhov said; ‘don’t tell me the moon is shining show me the glint of light on broken glass’.
  • Don’t worry about what you are writing until it tells you. It may be a story, it may be an essay, it may become memoir, novella, therapy or script. Whatever it is will emerge. Trust it. Trust yourself.

    Mark Radcliffe’s first novel, Gabriel's Angel (published by Blue Moose), is being re-issued next month, and his short story collection Superpowers is being published by Valley Press at the end of July. He is also an award winning magazine columnist.

    Mark recently contributed to a talk responding to Careful, a performance based on his journal article on the ‘traumatized or damaged nurse’. The talk was part of an online conference hosted by Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

    He is part of a team of five writing tutors at West Dean and explains: “The programme at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation is for you if you are already a committed writer looking to complete the first draft of a novel. You are keen to further develop your writing and research skills and learn about the publishing process and the role of the professional author in today's publishing environment.”

    He continues: “Students learn from professional authors with extensive creative writing teaching experience and visiting industry professionals. Workshops include experimental collaboration with artists working in other disciplines at West Dean.”

    Students benefit from the unique setting and history of the College. The house, its archive and extensive grounds offer opportunities to explore site-specific works, while historic connections to literary and publishing experimentation provide a stimulating environment.

    To help make study possible, bursary opportunities are available. The final funding application deadline for those applying to study in September 2020 is August 1, and students need to first apply to the course they want to study. For full details on the MA Creative Writing and Publishing see the website.

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Notes to Editors:

  • West Dean College of Arts and Conservation was founded in 1971 by the poet and Surrealist patron, Edward James, recognised by BBC Arts as the ‘the greatest patron of art of the early twentieth century’.
  • The College has an international reputation and is a full partner of the University of Sussex. www.westdean.ac.uk
  • The College is part of The Edward James Foundation (Charity No. 1126084), also comprising West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and West Dean Tapestry Studio.
  • All photography is free to use for editorial purposes.
  • West Dean College is situated on the A286, six miles north of Chichester and within 
easy access of Portsmouth, Guildford, Brighton and London.


For all media enquiries please contact Rachel Aked:
Email: rachel.aked@westdean.org.uk
Telephone: 07790 732448

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 OQZ

Photo: © Chris Ison
Photo: © Chris Ison