Gatehouse of Fleet Workshops – March 26th 2022

Autumn Voices, in partnership with Gatehouse of Fleet’s The Bakehouse Community Arts, is delighted to report on the second day of poetry and publishing workshops offered as part of our ‘Watering Grassroots’ live event series, funded by DG Unlimited.

10:30 – 12:00 – Start Writing Poetry with John Burns

The sun was shining in Gatehouse of Fleet, but the warm weather didn’t tempt our committed workshop attendees away from their notepads!

With attendees appearing both in person and on Zoom, John Burns inspired us to ‘Start Writing Poetry’ in the first workshop of the day with brilliant prompts and memory exercises:

“The fear that someone’s written it all before often stops us from starting to write as we get older. We get caught up in the idea that we cannot produce original work and so there’s no point, but you only have to be alive to what’s happening around you to write.”

– John Burns

Even the not-quite-Autumn Voices staff support in the room managed to put a bit of pencil to paper and come up with a poem. We’re not sharing them though!


13:30 – 15:00 – How To Get Published with Sheila Wakefield

Sheila Wakefield’s afternoon workshop, ‘How To Get Published’, was a bounty of information for both new and established writers and created so much discussion we ran over by half an hour!

Her list of dos and don’ts about agents and publishers prompted both laughter and nods of recognition. Her editing tips challenged all of us to relax our vice-like grip of our writing and hand it over to experienced, professional editors to make the writing work as well on the page as it possibly can.

“Less is more.”

– Sheila Wakefield

“Kill your darlings!”

– Sheila Wakefield

Both John and Sheila recommended Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down The Bones, so we think that’s a pretty consistent endorsement!


Thank you to everyone who attended physically and digitally. Thanks to John, Sheila, for your wonderfully insightful workshops, and thanks to the team at the Mill on the Fleet for hosting the event.

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