The Big One: A Great Big Writing Workshop for Great Big Ideas

The Big One: A 9-month-long writing workshop for projects that need space and to move.

You’re standing by the side of something huge.

You may not quite know what it is or how it will go, but you know it’s important, it’s beautiful and it’s yours. Sometimes you can feel it breathing, talking to you, trying to find its way into the world.

But life gets in the way. It’s hard to find the time to focus on it, it’s hard to stay motivated. There are so many other things that need your attention. And then there’s the self-doubt — what if this isn’t really anything at all? What if it doesn’t work? What if people don’t like it?

After many, many years of working with writers, we know that this phase — the long journey between “I have an idea” and “I have a draft” is one of the hardest in the creative process. It’s true that “In order to cross the ocean we must have the courage to lose sight of either shore” but how do we keep swimming when the waves are crashing and the skies are dark? How do we just… get it done?

Every process is unique, but a generous dose of accountability, focused time, thoughtful feedback and genuine encouragement is our tried and true recipe for production. It can also really help to be among others who are on similar journeys so that we can share our wins, face down our challenges and know that we’re never alone. This class is designed to offer all those things in big, luxurious quantities, so that our projects can make the long journey out of our minds and into the world where they can sparkle and shine and do their work.

Here’s how it works:

We’ll meet every second week through the fall, winter and into spring in a small group to workshop our writing, talk about our process, gain direction and watch our word counts rise. In late November, once we’ve sunk into the process, we’ll road trip to a big manor house north of the city for a full weekend of writing games, workshopping and silent writing time. In addition, we’ll enjoy one Sunday afternoon a month of silent writing time at the Firefly studio, and in June we’ll wrap up with a big beautiful reading for friends and family (…if you choose to invite them. No pressure.)

The focus of this class won’t be on finishing necessarily, the focus will be on having a deep-reaching, productive writing experience. Some participants will finish their projects and start new ones. Some will discover new ideas part-way through and will change track. Some will just keep swimming, even though the other shore is too far away to see. We’ll approach the idea of “accomplishment” with curiosity, knowing that it will look different for everyone and may morph as we go.

Bi-weekly workshop groups will have six people in each (six with Chris and six with Britt on alternate weeks) and the studio afternoons, the retreat and the reading will bring the two groups together.

Because we want groups that are balanced, diverse, and full of chemistry, this class is by application only. Participants will be chosen based on their fit with the group rather than writing “ability”.

There are two scholarship spots of $250 available, one for women of colour including indigenous women, and one for anyone who would like to apply. You’ll be asked on the intake form if you would like to apply for a scholarship spot.

This class is ideal for people who:

~ Know that their work thrives when it’s being supported. (If you’re looking for a harsh or critical environment, or you believe that your writing requires harsh feedback in order to thrive, this isn’t the place for you.)
~ Have a project on the go, whether it’s in its very early stages or far along. All genres and styles welcome.
~ Are looking for a lot of accountability and feedback. Nearly two thirds of our by-weekly workshops will involve the whole group of six reading and getting feedback on work that they created at home.
~ Are excited (if a little nervous) to commit wholeheartedly to a lengthy long creative process.
~ Can find the time to create up to two pieces per month at home to read to a group.
~ Genuinely want to support other people on their creative paths, even if those paths look very different from their own.
~ Know, or want to know, how damn good it feels to write with others.
~ Are in love with words, or at least have a big, secret crush on them.

This workshop won’t give you:

~ Critique or competition. We’re all about the love. You can always ask the group questions about your work (“Does this last paragraph make sense?” “Did it feel over at the end of the section?” “What did you think I was getting at in this middle part?”) but we don’t think free-range critique is a helpful tool for writers.
~ Strict rules on “how to write”. Your skills will bloom, but but we don’t subscribe to the idea that there’s one way to create powerful work, or that anyone outside of you holds your key.
~ Pressure to write things you don’t want to write.

You can expect to walk away with:

Chris and Britt

~ A whole lot of words written down.
~ Friends on the same path.
~ A deeper sense of who you are as a writer, and what you’re capable of.
~ Deeply satisfying progress and momentum.
~ The joy of having been instrumental in the creative journeys of a small group of other writers.

Details:

~ 16 Wednesday evening workshops, 7-9:45pm (these are bi-weekly) September – June with a break over the December holidays and March break. Two groups of six will meet on alternate weeks, one starting Sept 20, and one starting Sept 27. If you’re wildly organized and looking for exact dates, click here.)
~ A late-autumn weekend retreat Nov 24-26 2017 at a big old manor house on Lake Simcoe called Loretto Maryholme.
~ Monthly quiet writing sessions at the studio noon-5pm Oct 29, Dec 10, Jan 14, Feb 4, Mar 4, April 8, May 6.
~ A final reading at the studio on Friday June 8th, 2018 in the evening.

All workshops and studio sessions will take place at The Firefly Studio.
This workshop is by application only. Applications close August 5, 2017.
This workshop will be facilitated by Britt and Chris. Each will lead one of the small groups of six, and both will lead the retreat and silent writing time.

Cost:

This fee for the entire workshop, including 16 workshops, 7 studio sessions, the writing retreat and the reading is $1,825 – $1,950 depending on what kind of room is requested at the retreat. Large rooms with private bath will be higher, the shared rooms with shared bath lower.

This will be broken down into a deposit of $400 and six monthly payments of $237.50-$258.33.

If participants wish, they can add in 15,000 words of manuscript coaching with the facilitator of their group for $425.

There are two scholarship spots of $250 available, one for black, Indigenous and ​women of colour, and one for anyone who would like to apply. Let us know on your application if you want to apply for one of these.

To see our financial policies, click here.

Ready to take the leap?

Applications are now closed and the final group has been chosen. Thank you applicants! As you know, we were blown away by your passion, skill and depth. It was incredibly hard to narrow down to a list of 12! Click here for a nudge when we open applications again next summer.

Questions?

Here’s a link to the Q & A for all Firefly Toronto classes. If you still don’t have the answer you’re looking for, drop us a line. We’re super-friendly.

Looking for more options?

Take a peek at our other in-house workshops, our online writing classes, or our coaching services.

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Can We Keep In Touch?

Can We Keep In Touch?

Every 2-3 weeks we email out a poem we love, a link to a new video writing prompt, and news of upcoming workshops. Can we send them to you?

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