Centre for Continuing Education

Writing the Real Course

Creative writing. Express yourself with the written word.

COVID-19 update: arrangement of our courses

We are now delivering courses both online and in-person. Please check the delivery format for each class before you enrol.

Please note that course materials for all classes (excluding prescribed textbooks) are shared electronically within 48 hours of a course starting. Printing is not available.

This writing course offers you a rich immersion in creative nonfiction, practical tuition and instruction in composition and style, along with plenty of opportunities to write and be inspired. You’ll learn how to approach nonfiction with imagination, discipline and lyricism. The course explores the distinctions between fiction and nonfiction and the meanings of real and truthful. It encourages writers to understand nonfiction as literature and shows them how to employ imagination, discipline, creativity and lyricism in its composition, just as one would in fiction. Although a work of nonfiction can be every bit as literary in its distinction and design as a novel, nonfiction cleaves to the actual – something that places a heavy burden of truth-telling upon the writer and reorients imagination from invention to witness.


By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • discover the material in your life and world that calls you to write about it
  • practise writing non-fiction prose in different genres – essay, memoir, feature journalism, blog, history, travel
  • make of the life you lead, the thoughts you think, the places and things you know, works told as freshly and vividly as the best fiction
  • grow good ideas and arrange life experiences into finished works of literary art
  • apply time-honoured techniques and insights to take you writing from good to great and make it into a work that may touch and change others’ lives.


This course covers the following topics:

  • Foundations
  • Approach
  • Writing practice
  • The literature of witness and attention
  • The language of solid ground
  • Nonfiction as literature
  • Essays
  • Principles of writing well
  • The elements of style
  • Words and music
  • The importance of place
  • Form and structure
  • Planning
  • Coherence
  • Writing with your reader in mind
  • Getting started
  • Carrying on
  • The ethics of nonfiction
  • Editing and finishing
  • Fourteen troublesome words and phrases.

Intended audience

Suitable for anyone wanting to write well about the world we inhabit, the things we know - from family history to politics, from sport to philosophy, from self-help to biography and travel.

Delivery style

This workshop marries informally delivered pedagogy with inspirational ideas and practical tips from an experienced professional writer. It models great writing through a selection of fine readings across all genres; and it invites participants to write each week and receive tutelage and feedback from the facilitator and fellow participants.

Delivery options:

  • Presenter-taught workshop on University premises.
  • Online training via the platform Zoom.


Course notes are provided electronically.

Recommended reading

Dillon, B 2017, Essayism.

Gerard, P 2001, Writing Creative Nonfiction.

Gutkind, L 2007, The Best Creative Nonfiction.

Lopate, P 1995, The Art of the Personal Essay.

Miller, P 1994, Writing Your Life: A Journey of Discovery.

Tredinnick, M 2008, The Little Green Grammar Book.

Williford, L et al 2007, Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Course materials – yours to keep
  • CCE Statement of Completion

What others say.

  • I thoroughly enjoyed the course, it was really well structured and provided exactly what I was after – the chance to work with a small group to explore writing techniques and approaches whilst being supported to enhance my own.

  • This course provided me with some much needed motivation to write, with exposure to some fantastic non-fiction, and a new-found conviction that writing for any purpose can be engaging and full of humanity.

  • ‘Writing the Real’ is highly recommended. Inspirational tutoring. Sensitive, constructive criticism of writing exercises. A joy!

  • This course was more enjoyable and useful than I could have imagined and I cannot praise the tutor too highly.

  • The tutor of this course is one of the most professional facilitators I’ve met – very helpful, caring and a person in the writing field that I have a great deal of respect for. A real asset to your organisation. I learnt a lot and got some great feedback and advice. This tutor helped create a safe environment where all participants in the class could share. Thanks for bringing people with a vested interest in writing together.

  • The presenter of this course is a generous teacher. He shares his love of writing with his students, and makes you think about each sentence construction.

  • Inspiring course that reawakened my passion for writing.

  • I signed up for the course with not much expecations. Right from the first lesson, I’ve been engaged and know I’ve made the right choice to attend.

  • Through inspiring and lively discussions and guidance the tutor unleashed the creative force within us. I have now found (almost) my own voice in writing and feel confident in writing about topics that I would not think possible before!

Writing the Real Course

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Writing the Real Course

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What others say.

  • I found the course extremely enjoyable, interesting and helpful, and came away with some valuable tools. The presenter was both engaging, and an encyclopedia of knowledge.
  • The tutor was first-class and opened my eyes to a whole new world of writing and editing. I would highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to explore language and the written word.
  • Attending this short writing course is one of the best decisions I've ever made.
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