The Big One

 

A 9-month-long writing journey.

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You’re standing by the side of something huge.

You may not quite know what it is, 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 productivity. It can also help to be among others who are on similar journeys so that we can share our wins, face 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.

Here’s how it works:

We’ll meet approximately every second week through the fall, some of the 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 November, as we begin to move deeper into our process, the two groups will gather together for an urban retreat to find a writing sanctuary, right here in the city. In January, once we’ve sunk deep into the process, we’ll road trip to a big manor house north of the city for a 3-night weekend of writing prompts, workshopping and silent writing time. In February when our energy is low we’ll take the month off, with the exception of a silent writing session at the studio. We’ll start up again in March, and at the end of May 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, but 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. 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 change as we go.

Bi-weekly workshop groups will have six people in each (six with Britt in the afternoon and six with Chris in the evening). The urban retreat, the 3 night retreat, the silent writing sesson 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 scholarships of $250 available, one for People of Colour including Black and Indigenous people, 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 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.

  • 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.

  • Are excited to support an intimate group of 6 participants on a writing journey.

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 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:

  • A whole lot of words written down.

  • Friends on the same path.

  • A wider 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.

This class includes:

Fall 2019

  • 14 bi-weekly sessions (with a couple exceptions, see exact dates) at our Firefly Studio. These are on Thursday afternoons, 2 - 5pm with Britt or Thursday evenings, 6:45 - 9:45pm with Chris. They span Sept 5 - May 14, and the exact dates are: Sept 5, Sept 19, Oct 3, Oct 24, Nov 21, Dec 5, Dec 19, Jan 9, March 5, March 19, April 2, April 16, April 30 & May 14.

  • Urban Day Retreat: Saturday Nov 9 from 10 - 5pm and and Sunday Nov 10 from 11 - 4pm. Additional optional quiet writing session on the Saturday evening 7 - 9:30pm.

  • Silent Studio Session Feb 23, 12-5pm

  • 3-night sleep-away retreat in Old Manor House an hour north of the city, January 24-27

  • An informal evening to prepare for our reading, May 21, 7pm

  • Reading for friends and family in late May (TBA), 7pm

 
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Britt

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Chris

 

Cost:

The price of this program is between $2295-$2595 depending on your room selection for the 3-night retreat. When you’re accepted into the class, you’ll be asked for a $295-595 deposit to confirm your spot, based on your room choice. The $2000 balance will be due a week later or you have the option of breaking your balance into nine monthly credit card installment payments of $222.22. There’s no extra fee for this service; we just like being able to offer it. Note, HST will be added to all costs.

There are two scholarships of $250 available, one for People of Colour including Black and Indigenous people, 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.

To see our financial and cancellation policies, click here.

Ready to take the leap?

Sorry, applications for Fall 2019 are now closed.

Applications for Fall 2020 will open in June 2020.

Questions?

Your answer is probably on this page.

Looking for more options?

Take a peek at our other in-house workshops, our coaching services, or our monthly writer’s care package.


What people are saying:

 
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The Big One felt like coming home to myself each and every class. It didn’t matter how tired I was or what mood I was in. I could show up and just be present with my own writing, and with the beautiful words woven together by my group members. Seeing the development of their projects over the course of the class inspired me and kept me accountable during those times when my overactive brain was interfering with my creative output. Not only did I get a ton of writing done and significantly advanced the progress of my project, I also learned a lot about who I am as a writer and how I want to share my writing voice with the world.

M.K. Shaw 
Lawyer, Writer & Mother

 

 
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If you have a writing idea brewing in you or a writing project you’re already working on, the Big One will take you where you need to go. I was able to delve deeper into my own writing, produced a lot of work and became a better writer because of the community in this workshop. I fell in love with the stories of my classmates, hearing unique and rich voices, which in the long run made me a more thoughtful writer. The facilitation was also fantastic, allowing me to be vulnerable and feel safe and valued at the same time.

Salma Saadi
Social Worker, Writer

 
 
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The Big One created a fabulous class community that deepened the process of writing with grace and ease. Whether our writing was flying along or stuck in a swamp, the group and the facilitator met us where we were, buoyed us up and kept us swimming.

Katherine-Anne Skinner
Psychotherapist, Meditator, Writer