Creative Writing Course – Himalayas
August 20 – August 24
Doubt is a writer’s enemy. 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). Once done, how will you publish?
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 may turn into a feast.
This Creative Writing Course is one of India’s much loved writing courses. We’ve conducted it 50+ times. Ten or fewer people work together led by a professional coach. The reviews of our workshops seem to say it really works. 32 books have been published by our participants so far.
In this creative writing course, you learn by doing. You write. 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 Creative Writing Course is offered at the Himalayan Writing Retreat. With a maximum of 10 participants, the small group experience is personalized and rewarding. The workshop earns mostly 5-star reviews.
(If you’re writing non-fiction which is not a story, then check out our non-fiction writing course instead.)
The creative writing course is led by Chetan Mahajan, a professional writing coach. Chetan is a Penguin-published author and has published columns in the Mint and Outlook magazine, amongst others. (Chetan’s detailed profile is shared below.)
The Himalayan Workshop sessions are held in the open or in the book lounge. Some meals maybe served in the open too if the weather is good. The outdoors are a very inviting and inspiring here.
We only accept ten applicants in one workshop on a first-come first-served basis. To apply for this creative writing course, please click the blue button below and fill out the application. If accepted, you can pay the fees to secure your spot.
About the Instructor
Chetan Mahajan leads this creative writing course. Chetan has spent two decades working in on-line learning, both in the US and India. He started teaching online in 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 almost a decade ago. There they founded the Himalayan Writing Retreat.
Chetan Mahajan, Writing coach
Chetan is 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 – Creative Writing Course
Read the short stories we send you. Make a one-page outline of the project you want to work on. Then arrive at the retreat and on day 0, chill. Wear your warm jacket and soak in the view.
Day 1: Aspects of good writing. Plot, Character and Point of view.
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.
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.
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?
We close with all participants sharing their writing plans.
Leave the Retreat after a protracted breakfast and goodbye.
Travel and Stay
Once here, you will be sharing a room with a fellow participant (unless we’ve confirmed a single). All essentials like food, hot water, towels etc. are provided. No hidden costs.
It can snow in winter. Weather can vary and the weather chart of Mukteshwar (12 km from the retreat) is here. A pair of sturdy walking shoes, some rain protection and an extra layer or two are always a good idea.
Depending upon where you travel in from, you can reach us by road, train or air. Even if flying or taking a train, the final stretch is a drive, and the last 150 metres is a walk.
The retreat is a 370 km/9 hours drive from Delhi. If driving, we recommend you leave early. Note that parking at the retreat is on the road – we do not have any private parking. We have limited driver accommodation, so please check in advance.
Overnight Volvo buses ply between Haldwani and Delhi, the more reliable of which are government operated. You con book those here. Private Volvos and Sleeper buses also ply between Delhi and Haldwani, which you can book on redbus. Make sure you pick a bus with a high (4+) rating.
There are three trains a day from Delhi to Kathgodam, the nearest train station. Some others also come in from Kolkata, Lucknow and Dehradun. From Delhi, Ranikhet Express is a convenient overnight train both ways, but finding tickets can be difficult.
Most people prefer to take the Kathgodam Shatabdi (Delhi dep: 6.20 AM, Kathgodam Arr: 11.40 AM). A cab from Kathgodam to Satkhol takes about 2.5 hrs / Rs. 2200 (more for a big car). Cabs are often shared by participants.
There are daily flights from Delhi to Pantnagar. A cab from Pantnagar to Satkhol takes about 3.5 hr / Approx INR 4K.
There are direct flights from Mumbai and Bangalore to Bareilly 3-4 days a week. Satkhol is a 5hr / INR 5.5k cab ride from Bareilly. (More for a big car). Cabs are often shared by participants.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What can one expect from the Non-Fiction Writing Workshop (Online/ At the Himalayas)?
You can expect to learn a lot about non-fiction 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 25 books so far. Check them HERE.
To add further, this workshop will be beneficial for anyone interested in writing non-fiction. For e.g. books like Do Epic Shit, Atomic Habits, etc, or a book of essays on personal experiences. 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.
- 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. If you write in a language other than English, please share this in the form.
- I have never written a book but want to write one about my experience of working as an HR head for 25 years with a specific focus on analysing people before hiring them. Will this workshop be helpful for that?
Our Non-fiction Writing Course (both physical and in the Himalayas) is recommended for writers who want to write non-fiction. So yes, this workshop will help you write that book.
- What is the pre-work?
Pre-work for this Non-fiction Writing Course is both reading and writing. A set of excerpts are to be read by all participants. These are used as examples and context to discuss and understand various concepts in the workshop. Further, each participant has to prepare a one-page project outline which they will then build on during the Non-fiction Writing Course. 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 (different for online and offline)?
The 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 Day 0 and Day 4 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, watch the sunset 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 Non-fiction 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 Non-fiction Writing Workshop 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 Non-fiction Writing workshop to work on your writing.
12. Can I reach out to Chetan Mahajan after the workshop?
Working one-on-one is very time-intensive, and Chetan does very little one-on-one work.
He works as a writing coach with a few select authors. 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 joining the waiting list to work with him as your Writing Coach.
Have more questions? Feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with us at +91 73035 16665 (Call/ WA/Signal).
Additional Guests, Single room and Cancellation Policy:
Additional Guests may stay with participants, subject to availability. Their stay is charged at a rate of INR 4000 per night including meals and taxes for a shared room.
Single rooms can be requested but are subject to availability. The additional cost for a single room is 3000 per night including meals and taxes.
100% refund if cancellation 4 weeks before event start date, 50% if cancellation is done two weeks before start date, 0% if less than two weeks before start date.
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.I understand