Writing from life – finding shape and form in your writing with Hannah Vincent

Creative writing and publishing

Ref: SSS11659

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About this course

This course is for writers interested in the borders between fiction and non-fiction and will be suitable for those who have begun a writing project and who may be wondering what form it could take.

Course Description

This course is suitable for those who have already begun a writing project and builds on the work of the weekend course, Writing From Life, though you don’t need to have taken that course to enrol on this one. Finding Shape and Form in Your Writing will help you develop the commitment and openness to the writing process that is necessary for any writer to see a project through to completion.

Exercises carried out during the week will encourage your unconscious mind to flourish in creative ways, enabling you to detect patterns and find a shape for the words and images you bring to the page. Taking our cue from the Surrealists, techniques such as automatic writing, collage, juxtaposition and use of objects will liberate your writing practice and your writing. We will look at a range of written texts and other artworks and use these to create structure and meaning in our work. There will be opportunities to share your writing and get feedback from your tutor and your fellow writers. By the end of this course, you will have an understanding of what form your material could take and what form might best suit the story you want to tell.

Hannah Vincent is a short story writer, playwright and novelist with over 12 years experience of teaching creative writing. Her work explores links between creative writing and autobiography as well as connections between creative writing and other artistic and academic practices.

Summer School highlights:

The Summer School week is an immersive learning experience with more time to develop your creativity and embrace opportunities for creative development beyond your chosen course. A detailed timetable for your Summer School week will be given to you on arrival. This will include:

• Short inspirational talks by tutors and displays of their work

• A short creative experience session in another discipline/media or course

• An optional evening at the Chichester Festival Theatre (if pre-booked)

• An optional lunchtime tour of West Dean Gardens, the historic rooms at West Dean College, or West Dean Tapestry Studio

• A celebration dinner on the last evening, with a surrealist theme inspired by Salvador Dalí, who was one of West Dean founder, Edward James’ friends and collaborators. (Feel free to respond to the theme if you wish.)

• Informal end-of-course group reviews and displays of students' work in studios

As evening events are planned as part of the Summer School week, dinner is included in the course fee to enable all students, including non-residents, to participate fully. A detailed timetable will be given to all students on arrival.

(Please note that plans may be subject to change depending on GOV.UK guidance at the time.)


Timetable for Summer Schools

Several evening events are planned throughout the week, a detailed timetable for the summer schools will be given to you on arrival.

Arrival Day

Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students should vacate their rooms by 10am please.

Course Materials


  • On this course the tutor will supply materials such as prompt objects, printed handouts and book extracts to help stimulate the writing process.

What students need to bring

  • Laptop and notebook
Wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes covered footwear.


Hannah Vincent

Hannah Vincent is a novelist, short story writer and award-winning playwright. Her first novel Alarm Girl was published in 2014. She wrote her second while carrying out PhD research at the University of Sussex in autobiographic practice. The Weaning was published in 2018. Hannah’s debut collection of short stories She-Clown and Other Stories was published in 2020. Hannah teaches creative writing on The Open University’s MA programme and she has taught life writing for New Writing South and Charleston. She is currently Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Brighton.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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