In 2019, I was invited to deliver a series of creative writing workshops as part of St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School Excellence in English programme. For each of these I developed bespoke presentations and handouts (reviewed by the teacher before delivery), using words, images, writing samples and audio clips as prompts to inspire participants:

The main goal was to encourage young people to try their hand at writing and experiment with different forms. Many young creatives can be discouraged at an early stage if they have no forum in which to share their work and receive feedback and encouragement, or if their concept of writing is limited to just the novel. I addressed this by dedicating time in each workshop for feedback and positive reinforcement, as well as sharing excerpts from my own poetry and short fiction, and talking about my own creative journey.

As these workshops also formed a part of St Cuthbert’s academic Gifted & Talented initiative, I was also encouraged to help the students inform their choice of study/career path by introducing simple analytical concepts common in the study of English Literature. For example: the second workshop focused on the concepts of ‘genre’ and ‘setting’, so I began by presenting the opening lines from several novels. For example:

After each one, I asked the participants to consider questions like ‘what does this line tell us about the story?’, ‘do you think it is set in the same world as ours?’, ‘what questions do you have about the story?’ and ‘does it make you curious to read more?’. Then, I invited the group to revisit something they had written in the previous workshop and pay special attention to the first sentence. Now that they know what happens later in their piece, do the opening lines create the right tone and expectations? In this way, I aimed to cultivate analytical skills that would serve the participants as both writers and readers.

My favorite workshop in the series was the final one – having worked with these students over several weeks, I learned that science-fiction was popular with the group, and we worked together to create a shared fictional world they could use. That world became Earth Station One: a science-fiction setting in which humanity has fled onto a space station from an unknown catastrophe. This allowed for stories taking place on the station itself, but also on the abandoned Earth and the wider galaxy.

In this final workshop, I shared a short story I had written to introduce the world (as well as serve as a potential framing device for works set in this universe, should they wish to use it). The rest of the workshop was spent brainstorming and writing works of short fiction set in the Earth Station One universe:

I was very happy with how this series of workshops went, and received enthusiastic feedback from both participating students and teachers at St Cuthbert’s. I would have loved to have spent more time with this group of highly creative young people, and if we had been given more time together, perhaps developed an Earth Station One anthology of their work.

Out of a group of 12 pupils, 10 reported that they had learned new concepts, 8 reported that they had produced work they were excited to develop further, and all 12 said that they had enjoyed the workshops and wanted to write more in the future.

I am excited to build upon this success and the workshops I delivered for Edinburgh University Creative Writing Society. Every writing workshop I have hosted has taught me something new as a writer, and helped me produce new and better supplementary materials. I believe that anyone regardless of background can develop creatively through writing workshops, and I hope to bring them to wider audiences in the future!

If you would like to contract me to run a series of creative writing workshops for your organisation, my rate starts at £21.00 per hour. If you are a school or a charitable organisation, you are welcome to email me at to discuss discounted rates or a free workshop.

Image Sources

The images used above are stand-ins for images used during the original free workshop series, sourced using Wikimedia Commons and Stable Diffusion.

The use of AI-generated images is due to the rights of previous images used in this workshop expiring. In future paid workshops, all images will be either public domain sourced through licensed image libraries such as Pixabay and Shutterstock.

Preview Image
My Heart in Book Form. Author: Luke Hayfield

‘Choose a Picture’ Slide 1 (Characters)
Image 1: Shenzhou Intra-Vehicular Activity space suit. Author: Hibiki Watabe
Images 2 and 3: generated with Stable Diffusion

‘Choose a Picture’ Slide 2 (Settings)
Image 1: generated with Stable Diffusion
Image 2: Aurora over an abandoned weather station. Author: Ted.ns

Image 3: Jacobsen Ship Canada, Author: Antonio Jacobsen
Image 4: Train of Tomorrow Sky View dining car, public domain image. Author: General Motors Corporation

‘Earth Station One’ Picture Slide 1
Image 1: generated with Stable Diffusion

‘Earth Station One’ Picture Slide 2
Image 1: Rinjani 1994. Author: Oliver Spalt
Images 2 and 3: generated with Stable Diffusion
Image 4: OSIRIS-REx Executes First Deep Space Maneuver (31907606906). Author: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

‘Earth Station One’ Picture Slide 3
Image 1: CDC South Aquaponics Raft Tank 1 2010-07-17. Author: Bryghtknyght
Images 2 and 3: generated with Stable Diffusion
Image 4: Jungle lake at the entrance to Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Cave, Palawan, Philippines.
Author: Vyacheslav Argenberg