The North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) has helped New Writing North launch a major online learning platform for new and aspiring writers. The New Writing North Academy has been created in partnership with the Professional Writing Academy and is aimed at empowering and upskilling the next generation of northern writers.

Courses start in March 2023 and enrolment is now open for courses including life writing with Richard Benson, crime fiction with Marnie Riches and short stories with Susmita Bhattacharya, as well as CPD-accredited courses in screenwriting with John Yorke and writing for work with Piers Alder.

The courses will be taught in small groups over 4 to 16 weeks, each led by an expert tutor. Through a mixture of independent work and workshop learning, students will explore the techniques used by leading contemporary writers, learn to feedback on work-in-progress, develop their own voice and hone their writing craft. The versatility of online learning means that courses can be accessed from anywhere and participants can engage at a convenient time to suit themselves.

Image of Claire Malcolm

Claire Malcolm – New Writing North

Previous attendees on Professional Writing Academy courses have gone on to establish writing careers as bestselling novelists and screenwriters for Channel 4, BBC and ITV, as well as succeeding in copywriting and academic writing. The New Writing North Academy is part of a wider Writing and Publishing Skills Hub, funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority. Residents of Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland can benefit from bursaries of up to 75% off course prices.

Claire Malcolm, Chief Executive of New Writing North said: “We’re thrilled to be working with the Professional Writing Academy to bring brilliant, accessible creative writing courses to the North. For too long, it has been difficult for many people to access the highest quality of creative writing teaching, whether they live outside of urban centres, have disabilities, caring responsibilities or simply busy lives. On New Writing North Academy courses, our students will benefit from one-to-one feedback; small group peer support; a wider network of northern writers; and a lively international community, all while accessing material and completing assignments at a time that suits them. We’re grateful to North of Tyne Combined Authority, whose funding allows us to offer discounted bursary places to those living in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.”

Cllr Glen Sanderson NTCA cabinet member for Culture, Creative and Rural said: ‘We want everyone in the North of Tyne region to be able to pursue their creative ambitions through access to the highest quality of learning opportunities and vocational skills development. That’s why we’re delighted to support New Writing North’s writing and publishing hub, and within it the New Writing North Academy with bursary places for North of Tyne residents. It’s particularly exciting that this online learning platform allows people across our region to develop their writing skills in a flexible way that fits in with their lives.’

Christina Bunce, Founding Director, Professional Writing Academy, said: “After 10 years teaching more than 10,000 writers at all stages of development, we are well aware of the power of writing to transform lives for the better – for personal development, to equip people with new skills for work, and for the sheer joy of being creative. We are also aware of the barriers for many people who are ready to take their writing to the next stage, but can’t afford to take time out to study an MA, or otherwise need flexibility. We are committed to discovering and developing new voices and talent from the North and are delighted to be working with New Writing North and the North of Tyne Combined Authority, who have the vision to see that offering flexible, accessible online learning will give opportunities to anyone wanting to explore their creative side.”

Richard Benson, author of The Farm and The Valley, and course tutor for Getting Started: Stories from Life, said: “It’s no one person’s fault, but the fact is that our society still gives far more access to certain groups of people than others. This is wrong because it’s unfair, but it’s also wrong because it means some people feel their stories are not worth hearing. In fact, many of their stories are more interesting than those we do get to hear. Change must happen. Ordinary people’s voices must be heard. In Getting Started; Stories from Life, we will be exploring our own life stories, allowing people to experience the events, places, and communities that are important to us.”

Denise Johnson, course alumni said: “I’m not sure what I will do when this course is over. All day at my desk I think of the moment when I can rush home and login and start to write. At the beginning of the new sessions, I am beyond excited.”