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 29 times face-to-face in the Himalayas, and 14 times online. It is an interactive small group working together lead by a professional coach. In addition to India, we've had participants from Dubai, Hong Kong, Muscat, Singapore, U.K. and USA.
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.
Our flagship 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 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.
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/ Professional Books or other such writing) you can opt for our Creative Writing Workshop on Non-fiction.
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.)
Have questions? Please check out the FAQs where we have tried to answer all your queries.
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-5 PM IST. We write, share our writing, get feedback from the group.
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 - sixteen 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.
When: August 11th- 15th, 2021
Arrive anytime on August 11th, 2021. Attend the workshop with other participants on August 12th, 13th and 14th with other participants from 9 AM - 5 PM (IST) on each of the three days. Leave on August 15th.
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.
(Please note: RTPCR tests / COVID vaccination is mandatory for all participants opting for the physical workshop held at the retreat.)
How much : INR 32,000 (3 days, 4 nights of learning, twin-sharing stay, food and taxes). Click here for our Cancellation Policy.
For Online Participants
When: August 12th-14th, 2021 at 9 AM - 5 PM IST each day (with a 1 hour lunch break).
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.
We only accept a total of ten applicants in one workshop (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.
Note: A few participants have locked themselves up for days after the workshop, and focused 100% on their writing. They have reported massive progress. Not returning to your everyday life immediately after the workshop helps you apply what you learn.
The Creative Writing Course will fill you with inspiration and ideas. Tapping into that energy and enthusiasm right after the workshop can be magical. So if you can, stay on for some time after the workshop - either with us or elsewhere. We offer a great deal for participants wanting to stay on.
Have questions? Please check out the FAQs where we have tried to answer all your queries.
Participants saying nice things
About the Instructor
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.
Read the short stories we send you. Also, keep your favourite book (Fiction / Narrative Non-fiction) handy.
Day Zero: 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: The Himalayan Participants leave after a sumptuous breakfast.
We close with all participants sharing feedback.
- Why should I choose HWR Physical / Online Writing Workshop?
- Personal Attention: We don't take more than 10 students in a class. You get a lot of personal attention and feedback. No classrooms of 20-30 people or one-way pre-recorded videos here.
- Class Quality: For most courses, we filter our participants. You can't just pay and sign up. We need to see a writing sample (in our application form) to ensure the class is of a uniform standard.
- Cost per hour: Our courses are long and intense. As an example, the Creative Writing course is 18000 for 24 contact hours (3 days, 8 hours each day). The cost per hour = 750 / hour. That is comparable to many of the "cheaper" courses.
- Quality of faculty: No lightweights here. Many of our faculty are award-winners. All are experts and great teachers. We don't settle for average.
- Feedback scores: Across courses, we are rated 4.5/5, or higher. You can read our reviews HERE.
- Do I get a certificate of participation?
Yes, certificates are available on request.
- Any discounts for students / other categories?
At the Himalayan Writing Retreat, we follow a strict No-Discount policy.
- Is the workshop fee refundable?
Our cancellation policy is as follows:
- Online Writing Workshop: 100% refund if cancellation 2 weeks before the event start date, 50% if cancellation one week before the start date, 0% if less than one week before the start date.
- Creative Writing Workshop at the Himalayas: 100% refund if cancellation 4 weeks before the event start date, 50% if cancellation two weeks before the start date, 0% if less than two weeks before the start date.
Taking into consideration, the current scenario, the Uttarakhand government has made it mandatory for anyone entering the state to carry a COVID negative report along with them. However, if participants test positive for Covid-19 before travel (RTPCR Report Required), full credit will be held for six months for any future event, subject to availability.
- Is the Himalayan Writing Retreat a business or an NGO?
The Himalayan Writing Retreat is a business. It is an active member of the local community. HWR supports two Himalayan NGOs: Chirag and Alaap. In 2020 HWR raised INR 6.1 Lakhs to support the Chirag School. (https://thechiragschool.wordpress.com/ )
We are also hosting an online loss and grief support group for those affected by the pandemic which is FREE and open to all. The group is led by Dr. Vandita Dubey, a clinical psychologist. She is the author of “Parenting in the age of Sexposure" (Rupa, 2016) and a co-founder of the Himalayan Writing Retreat. This group meets every Sunday at 10 am. (IST)
About Creative Writing/ Online Writing Workshop
- What can one expect from the Creative Writing / Online Writing Workshop?
You can expect to learn a lot about creative writing.
You can also expect to be able to work on your (long-pending) book and see it published. Our participants win awards. They write short stories and have published over 18 books so far. Check them HERE.
To add further, this workshop will be beneficial for anyone interested in writing fiction and narrative nonfiction that has dialogues, characters, and a sense of place and time. For e.g. books like Who moved my cheese? Is narrative non-fiction. Memoirs and autobiographies are narrative non-fiction. A book of essays on personal experiences is not.
If you are planning to write a book of essays that are opinion-based, theoretical in nature, and backed by research and stats, then that is pure non-fiction. A book on management, how-tos, tips and tricks, guides, etc. are all non-fiction. For that, we recommend you consider attending our Creative Writing Workshop for Non-fiction.
- Can I have recordings of all the sessions for Online Workshops if I miss them?
As a matter of policy, we do not record any of our sessions. The idea is to build on each others' knowledge through interactions and feedback while working together throughout the workshop.
- I write in my mother tongue which is not English. Can I attend this workshop?
Yes, you can. We have had participants before who write in Bengali, Punjabi, and Tamil. However, the medium of instruction is English, as are the class readings, etc. So some proficiency in English is essential.
- I have never written a book but want to write one about my grandfather’s life. Will this workshop be helpful on that?
Our Creative Writing/ Online Writing Workshop is recommended for writers who want to write fiction or narrative non-fiction that has dialogues, characters, and a sense of place and time. A book on your grandfather’s life can be either a biography or a memoir and hence falls in the category of narrative non-fiction. So yes, this workshop will be helpful for you to write that book.
- What is the pre-work?
Pre-work is a recommended reading material sent by Chetan Mahajan to all the participants before the workshop. It can be an article, a short story, or an essay which he will further discuss and analyze in the workshop. The pre-work is shared a few days before the workshop to give you ample time to go through it.
- Is the pre-work mandatory?
Yes, it is mandatory.
- What is the daily schedule like (different for online and offline)?
The Usual Schedule for the Himalayan workshop is shared below. For the Online Writing Workshop, it is the Day 1-3 schedule (9 AM - 5 PM over 3 days) without the pre & post activities.
Day 0 ( a day before the workshop starts) Reach Satkhol anytime.
- 8.15 am Breakfast in the lounge
- 9 am - 1 pm Attend the workshop with the rest of the participants
- 1 -2 pm Lunch Break
- 2-5 pm Attend the workshop with the rest of the participants
- After 6 pm Go on nature walks, sit around the bonfire and enjoy the beauty of the Himalayas.
- 8.15 am Breakfast in the lounge
- 10 am Checkout
- Can I decide which sessions to attend and pay accordingly?
The workshop has a sequential structure. Each day builds on the previous one, and sessions are often connected. Ideally, you should attend the full workshop to get the most out of it. You cannot cherry-pick sessions you’re interested in or pay part of the fees.
- What if I miss out on any of the sessions for personal reasons?
Our sessions are live and not recorded. Hence, in case you miss out on any of the sessions, there is no way you can attend it again except perhaps ask any of the other participants to brief you on those topics.
- What’s in store after the workshop is over?
We believe in creating a community for writers. After attending one of our courses, the participants stay connected and work as a writing group. The close bond formed from the shared experience means you share, get feedback, become beta readers, critique each others’ works, and much more.
We also host free events like the Himalayan First Draft Club and the Himalayan Book Club. You can also join our Facebook Group: Let’s Talk Writing, where, as the name suggests we just talk about writing and nothing else.
- What should I do to get the most from the Creative Writing/ Online Writing Workshop?
Firstly, participate diligently, and throw yourself into the process with an open mind.
If you can, try and keep a few days in hand to write after the course is done. Don’t jump right back into your daily grind after the workshop. A few participants who have attended the workshop at the retreat have locked themselves up for days after the workshop and focused 100% on their writing. They have reported massive progress. Not returning to your everyday life immediately after the workshop helps you apply what you learn.
The Creative Writing/ Online Writing Course will fill you with inspiration and ideas. Tapping into that energy and enthusiasm right after the workshop can be magical. So if you can, stay on for some time after the workshop - either with us or elsewhere. We offer a great deal for participants wanting to stay on.
If participating online, try and create some time after the Creative Writing / Online Writing workshop to work on your writing.
- Can I reach out to Chetan Mahajan after the workshop?
Working one-on-one is very time-intensive, and Chetan cannot afford to do it free.
He works as a writing coach with a few individual authors - mostly from abroad. His coaching calendar is full right now. The details for it can be found HERE. You can go through this and reach out in case you wish to consider working with him as your Writing Coach. He could read an excerpt of 1000 words, but sharing feedback on more is a very big time commitment.