The Art of the Handwritten Letter

Letters written by hand slow us down. They push back on the digital age and invite to be in the present moment. Writing by hand unspools our thoughts across the page, connecting us with others through stories. Taking time to sit down and write a letter sends a powerful message to the recipient that they are important. For this and many other reasons, they can become cherished keepsakes.

We write letters because life presents meaningful moments to put pen to paper. And there are so many different kinds of letters. Everyday letters of friendship, thanks, and gratitude. End-of-life letters inviting us to let go of grudges and take stock. Letters of gratitude and thanks. “Dear John” or kiss-off letters of goodbye. Letters of sympathy, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Protests and fan letters. Letters to our younger or older selves. And the diva of them all — The Love Letter. This live 8-week course treats the handwritten letter as a practice worth preserving and an art worth elevating.

The personal essay has roots in letter writing and the French word essai means “to try.” Meeting via Zoom with people around the world, this course makes a relaxing first foray of trying, testing, and building letter writing skills that are akin to the personal essay and creative nonfiction. Each week we focus on a specific kind of letter. We read, write and discuss different letters. Each session sets aside time to workshop our letters in peer groups to improve our skills. We develop our own voices and read a range of influential and iconic letters.  We explore how to write great stories with strong narrative arcs. I teach elements of essays to handwritten letters: scene creation, language, voice, dialogue/monologue, narrative arc, sense of place, and more. The aim is to write more engaging, mindful, and artistic letters that document your life and that people will cherish. The course offers a great gateway to Gateway Series (The Art of the Handwritten Letter, The Art of the Personal Essay, and The Art of Narrative Nonfiction — enquire to receive a discount for the three courses).

Our guest speakers include a hospice priest and the bestselling author Katherine Norbury who will speak on forgiveness and reconciliation.

LEARNING AIMS

  • Learn key narrative nonfiction techniques to enhance your letter writing.
  • Read and write a range of influential and iconic letters.
  • Enjoy lectures, discussions, and in-class work-shopping of your writing.
  • Explore principles of memoir and life writing to recall past events.
  • Learn how professional writers mind-map, outline, draft, and edit their work.
  • Tap deeper into your emotional life as writing is thinking and feeling.
  • Understand how narrative arcs — beginning, middle, and end of stories — creates satisfying reading experiences.
  • Experiment with voice and narrative presence through in-class and at-home exercises.
  • Be inspired by live talks with priests, authors, and archivists.
  • Receive critical feedback and writing support.

TUITION & TIME

  • £350
  • 7-9 PM GMT.
  • Eight consecutive Wednesdays, May 4, 11, 18, 25 and June 8, 15, 22, 29

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

My teaching philosophy is focused on encouraging a uniquely personal exploration of narrative nonfiction. At its core, I believe teaching is about responding to each student, whether they are emerging writers or writing beyond the level of content mastery. I create a supportive learning environment that fosters creative expression, critical thinking, and individual artistic growth.

TEACHING EXPERIENCE

I am a passionate practitioner and teacher of narrative nonfiction.  For more than twenty-five years, I have taught writing and literature courses at colleges and universities including Western Washington University, Everett Community College, and Plymouth University. I have a global mentoring practice, thriving online writing courses, and lead in-person retreats, courses, and workshops throughout the United States and Britain.