Creative Writing Course – Online and in the Himalayas

Bootcamp #1 - Oct 2016

Bootcamp #2, April 2017

Bootcamp #8, Oct 2018

Bootcamp #9, Feb 2019

Writing starts with desire. Something to say - a need to share. But doubt can make things difficult. What / when / how  should you write? How will you engage the reader – make sure your writing doesn't bore? Will you be criticized? (Ans : yes). Do you write for yourself? Or your reader? And once done, how will you get published?  What are the options? Once published, how do you market?

Working through these questions together is like trying to eat an unlimited South-Indian thali in one gulp. In this creative writing course, we break the massive meal into small, digestible chunks. We simplify it so that someone starting out can understand the process. Maybe even enjoy it.  You write a lot, get many answers, and the big daunting meal turns into a feast. Or at least something you can tackle.

This Creative Writing Course is one of India's much loved writing courses. we've conducted it 27 times face-to-face in the Himalayas, and 12 times online. It is an interactive small group working together lead by a professional coach. We've had participants from Dubai, Hong Kong, Muscat, Singapore, U.K. all time zones of mainland USA, and from all over India.

In this creative writing course, you write. A lot. You learn by doing. You dig into aspects of a good book - plot, character, dialogue, voice (First person or third? Or second person like this paragraph?) and much more. You learn the rather critical art of editing, and realize how much unnecessary, extra and pompous verbosity you habitually stuff into your writing.

Okay, now lets edit that: You learn the rather critical art of editing, and realize how much unnecessary, extra and pompous verbosity you habitually stuff into your writing. You learn tools: For editing, for writing better and for disciplining yourself as a writer.

The next Creative Writing Course is offered both online and in the Himalayas. You can choose your preferred modality. The small group experience stays the same. The same learnings, the same writing exercises and workload. Those who wish to experience the physical inspiration of the Himalayas can travel, while ones who want to attend it from their homes can opt for the online version. The total participants will still be capped at ten.

The Himalayan Workshop sessions are held in the open or in the book lounge (Pic here).  Most meals are served here too, and the wood-burning Bukhari keeps you warm in Winter. 

The instructor also has the laptop before him, and conducts the online workshops on zoom from the Himalayas.

The online course is not one way communication. It is live. Interactive. Personal. Only the Himalayas are replaced by your bedroom window. But the teaching and the camaraderie remains unchanged. 

Please note
This course  is useful for people wanting to learn to write a narrative – it could be either fiction or non-fiction. However, if you want to write non-narrative content (self-help / technical/ essays or other such writing) you can opt for our creative writing workshop on non fiction (details to be announced soon).

Level: Novice - Intermediate writers

Who: Chetan Mahajan, a Penguin published author and award-winning blogger,  leads this course. (For instructor profile, click here or scroll down.)

How it works

Participant limit : 10 

Pre-work : All participants are assigned some pre-work (short stories) to read.

This Creative Writing Course is spread over three days. We will work every day 9 AM-1 PM and then 3 PM -6 PM  IST. We write, share our writing, get feedback from the group.  (Details of all three days are shared below).

Apply by clicking the button below.  

Over the first two days we become better writers, and hone our craft. We write many building blocks of our story. On day three we look outward and get to know the various players – editors, publishers, literary agents. We understand the publishing options before a first-time author.

A detailed, day-wise break-up of the Creative Writing Course is shared below. We learn to notice unnecessary use of passive voice, like in the previous sentence. It could have been “We’ve shared a day-wise program below”. We learn how to clean up our writing. And we learn that barely appreciated skill - editing. 

Participants love this course. They say nice things.   And they write - Twelve books have been completed, and many more are in the works. To read about the books & awards that the HWR has helped along, click here.

For Himalayan Participants

When: 17-21 February, 2021 

Arrive on the 17th of Feb. Attend the workshop on 18th, 19th and 20th with other participants from 9 AM - 1 PM and 3 PM - 6 PM (IST) on each of the three days.  Leave on the 21st . 

While you're here, walk in the wilderness, Bask in the fire, gaze at the stars. Your eyes feast on the magnificent Himalayan dusks and dawns, your ears on the live birdsong concert, your lungs on clean crisp mountain air, and your taste buds on the delectable, homely fare. Our workshops are rated  5/5 on google, and our venue, "The Quiet Place" is rated 5/5 on Tripadvisor.

Where: The Himalayan Writing Retreat, Satkhol Village. Uttarakhand - 263138 (India). Details here.

How much : INR 32,000 (3 days, 4 nights of learning, twin-sharing stay, food and taxes). Click here for our Cancellation Policy.

Note: An RTPCR Covid test is required from all people choosing to travel for the workshop.  Single occupancy is subject to availability at an additional cost of 8k. If single occupancy is a prerequisite (e.g. if you snore loudly, have sleep apnea or talk gibberish in your sleep) then please mention it clearly in the application.)

Meals in the open, in the company of white giants

For Online Participants

When:  18-20 February, 2021 at 9 AM - 6 PM each day (with a 2 hour break at 1 - 3 PM),  Indian Standard Time.

Where: Your home. (or wherever you have a PC and good connectivity).

How much : INR 18,000 (USD 300 for international participants). For our cancellation policy, click here. 

Pre-requisite : Participants need to have a laptop and a good internet connection. Larger screens (a large monitor) will help even more.

We only accept a total of ten applicants across both formats (Online + Himalayan) on a first-come first-served basis. To apply, please click the blue button below and fill out the application. If accepted, you can pay the fees to secure your spot. 

Participants saying nice things

About the Instructor

Chetan Mahajan

Chetan Mahajan leads this course. Chetan has spent two decades working in on-line learning, both in the US and India. He has taught on-line as far back as 2006 as a faculty member at the University of Phoenix online.

Chetan is a Penguin-published author and an award-winning blogger. Chetan and his wife Dr. Vandita Dubey (also a published author) moved to the Himalayas five years ago. There they founded the Himalayan Writing Retreat. Chetan is now a full-time author and works as a  writing coach independently as well as with the London based the writing coach.  He also writes for The Mint, Outlook Magazine, HT Brunch, Reader's Digest and Hindu Business Line

Detailed Program


Read the short stories we send you. Also, keep your favourite book (Fiction / Narrative Non-fiction) handy. 

Day Zero (Feb 17): The Himalayan participants reach the Himalayan Writing Retreat. You take in the view, warm your hands by the fire, and spend the evening getting to know your fellow writers.  

Day 1:  Aspects of good writing. Plot, Character, Point of view and much more.

We dig into the aspects of a good book, and spend time on Plot and Character in depth.

In Plot, we go over various frameworks of plot, and how they apply to some contemporary writings, such as Harry Potter. How a good plot leads to a strong narrative. In Character, we explore what characters are, their different types, how they are built, and so on.

Point of view is a big decision - will you write in first-person? Third ? Or will you write from Multiple points of view? We will do voice-writing exercises in pairs to help the writer get into someone else’s shoes and write.

That evening the Himalayan Participants will head out for a walk to enjoy some Pahadi samosas and chai.

Day 2: Description & Setting, Pace, Language & Editing.

We understand exactly what Description & Setting is. We learn about the pace of a story. We practice writing  both activities to make our story better.

We examine our own writing for some of the bad writing habits we pick up, and ways to unlearn them. We learn to omit needless words and write clean.

Editing cannot be over-emphasized. Good writers do it over and over again. We understand why, and explore some tools which can help.

Next, we dig into the project of writing: how to plan a book and write it. We learn new ways to do away with distractions and create focus. We close by looking at tools - both offline and tech - specific to writing.

We review the book writing plans of those keen on sharing. We tweak the plans where required and understand the committed milestones and dates.

After class, we introduce the Himalayan participants to our home brewed citrus punch which is had with hot water. Those who drink are welcome to try it with the alcohol they bring.

Day 3: Writers block, Publishing options, Marketing your book, your writing plan.

We discuss strategies based on research on creativity from the field of psychology. We write more. From figuring out how to “think outside the box” to ways of dealing with the famous writer’s block, we put science to good use. We build on the authors’ toolkit.

We spend the last day doing a reality check. Publishing and marketing a book requires a very different set of skills from writing a book. We explore those. We understand the options for publishing available to a first-time author. For analyze the economics of traditional and self publishing, their pros and cons. We learn what a literary agent does, and if you should sign up with one.

We discuss what it takes to market a book. Does Social Media have a role? What are good - and bad - ways to get reviews?

The Himalaya participants stargaze / sing songs by the fire / share their talents with the group.

Day 4 (Feb 21) the Himalayan Participants leave after a sumptous breakfast.

We close with all participants sharing feedback.