I heard about Swanwick Writers' Summer School from fellow writers, some years ago. However, it took me several to finally plucked up the courage to attend. I had heard it was a very inclusive and friendly environment, but I was dubious. I was going to be attending on my own and would not know anybody else. I thought I might be quite uncomfortable and lonely. I had also been told that it was extrememly tiring, because there were so many classes and events to attend. However, I need not have worried. It is a very friendly environment and the first thing I was told by experienced Swanickers was not to try to do everything.
The Swanwick Writers' Summer School is held in August each year at The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Alfreton, Derbyshire, England. (Unfortunately, the event did not take place in August 2020 due to the restrictions imposed due to coronovirus.) The train journey to get there was long and tiring, but it was well worth the effort.
There is a variety of accomodation ranging from smaller rooms without en-suite facilities through to larger ones with full bathrooms. and I chose to stay in the Lakeside Centre which is central within the grounds of The Hayes Conference Centre. My room had en-suite facilities and was spotlessly clean upon arrival. However, apart from re-filling tea and coffee supplies, replacing used cups and emptying bins, no cleaning or housekeeping is carried out during the week.
Facilitities at The Hayes Conference Centre also include a very reasonably priced cash bar and a gift shop. Therefore, bearing in mind the costs include accomodation, tuition and full board, are extremely reasonable. The costs vary depending upon the accomodation you choose. There were over 200 delegates at the Swanwick Writers' Summer School, and that can be very daunting if you are there for the first time as everybody seems to know everybody else.
Meals are all served buffet style, although assistance is available for those who are disabled. The meals include a buffet breakfast, a tasty lunch and a very substantial three course main meal in the evening. A wide variety of diets a catered for. Also, tea, coffee and snacks are served with remarkable regularity, so I would not recommend this venue for those hoping to lose weight!
Of course, the focus of the Swanwick Writers' Summer School is writing and all types of disciplines are catered for and respected. These include novel writing, poetry, short stories, writing plays and screen writing. Tuition is subdivided between a main course that runs each morning over four days. Short courses on different topics run for two hours each day and there are additional one hour courses. Lectures after dinner by established writers, publishers and agents are most interesting. I have heard many excellent speakers including Scottish crime writer, Alex Grey, women's fiction writers, Sue Moorcroft and successful short story writer, Della Galton. The talks were of a very high quality. Later evenings offered a fun variety of events including plays, quizzes, poetry and making music.
I have been back to Swanwick Writers' Summer School several times now and have even been asked to run courses on two occassions. I have made firm friends with many of the writers who attend and I always find my time there inspiring and the infectious enthusism of all the delegates fills me with passion to do even more writing. I have attended many useful courses. One, run by Simon Hall on how to write a novel, a truly inspiring course on psychological novel writing by Erin Kelly who wrote the Broadchurch novel and another on crime and the work of CSIs by Kate Bendelow. All of these authors have continued to support me through my writing journey.
It would be hard to emphasise too highly the inspiration I draw from my week at Swanwick each year. If you are looking for an all inclusive writers'conference, I highly recommend The Swanwick Writers' Summer School.