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Frequently asked questions and answers

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Why should I choose the Humber Summer Creative Writing workshop?

It is a prominent writing workshop with an excellent track record.

You will spend five intense mornings in class with colleagues and your teacher poring over your work and the work of others. You will spend five afternoons hearing from writers and publishing professionals about how they achieved their goals and how the publishing world works. 

It is a very busy week of writing and literature.

While all the above is exciting, we also realize that the most important progress in writing is artistic progress. We aim to provide insight into the craft of writing and help you hone your skills.

Who teaches in the workshop?

Over the last 28 years, the HSW workshop has been taught by some of the most talented national and international writers in the world. Our teachers have included Margaret Atwood, Mavis Gallant, Francine Prose, Martin Amis, Anne Beattie, Peter Carey, two-time Booker Prize winner; Tim O'Brien, National Book Award Winner in the USA; Alistair MacLeod, winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; Edward Albee, legendary playwright and many others.

Prominence is not the only quality we look for in our instructors. All of our faculty have considerable knowledge about the craft of writing and will help you to improve your work.

What will the workshop do to advance my writing goals?

In the long run, we want you to succeed and will do the best we can to help you achieve your goals. If you are published in book form, we will add the cover of your work to our "wall of fame" and may ask you to read or speak for us. Some of our faculty are former students.

In the short run, your teacher and your classmates will look carefully at 15 pages of your work as well as the work of your colleagues. Your teacher will advise you on the best strategies to improve your writing.

What happens during the summer workshop?

You spend five mornings in class with a small group of students. In that time, each of you reads and comments on the work of the others under the guidance of your writing instructor. You will also have a short private meeting with your instructor. Each instructor addresses the entire student group at least once, so you will hear from every teacher on our roster this season. Former students who have published in previous years tell how they went from aspiring to published. Top professionals in editing and agenting say what they are looking for and how to achieve success.

We do a “Flash Assessment”, an optional activity in which publishers and editors react to the first page of your work.

The large group first gets together on Sunday afternoon for an orientation with the Program Director.

Are there any other benefits?

The workshop is both intense and inspiring; participants can expect to be exhausted and exhilarated by the end of the workshop.

You may also find that your colleagues become a useful support group. Some years ago, four alumni formed a writing circle and vowed to stay together until all had been published. The last they were heard from, three had.

Each student will receive a certificate of participation at the end of the workshop.

When will I find out whether I have been admitted to the workshop?

We endeavor to tell students whether they have been accepted approximately 2 to 3 weeks after they have submitted their completed applications. After the early bird deadline, students will be further informed which mentor they have been matched with.

How much of my text will my instructor look at?

Student work for consideration is limited to 15 pages, which must be prepared according to professional standards: double-spaced and with name, title, and page number on each page.

If you are accepted, the fifteen pages will be forwarded to your teacher. Please do not make any changes to the manuscript between the time you submit it to us and the time you arrive. You will also receive electronic copies of the writing samples of all class members before the workshop begins.

The insights provided on the pages you submit are intended to help you through the rest of your work.

Those who have a book-length manuscript might consider taking the Correspondence Program in Creative Writing in order to go over a larger body of work with a writing mentor.

What writing level is expected?

In the summer workshop we have had true beginners as well as those who have published books. However, we do not always have suitable teachers for certain types of work. We are especially good at literary fiction, contemporary poetry, and creative non-fiction.

Who will be in my class?

Writers at different stages of development attend the workshop. Prose writers of fiction and non-fiction comprise six of the workshop classes. One class is devoted exclusively to poets.

Where does the workshop take place and what is it like?

In 2021, the workshop will be delivered virtually via Zoom.

How much does it cost?

The 2021 fee is $850 plus HST. Included in your fee are online lectures, group workshop sessions, and one virtual one-on-one session with your mentor.

How do I know who my writing instructor will be?

When you apply, you list your top three choices of instructor in order of preference. The placement committee tries to give you the instructor you choose, but reserves the right to make the best match possible. The placement committee takes into consideration availability, class size, writing style, and other concerns. You will be informed of instructor placement before arrival.

Can I change writing instructor once the week begins or have more than one instructor?

Unfortunately not.

Should I read the work of my instructor?

The more familiar you are with your instructor's work, the better.

How big are the classes?

Classes are consist of a minimum of six and a maximum of ten students

What time, exactly, does each day begin and end?

The schedule of the 2021 online workshop will be announced soon.


What is the neighbourhood like?

Etobicoke sits on the shores of Lake Ontario. The area around Humber's Lakeshore Campus is largely residential, with some fast food options along Lakeshore Boulevard West.

What accommodation do you have for special needs?

Most places are wheelchair accessible. Some classrooms are not. Please let us know if you have mobility issues.