If you’ve dreamed of being a writer but were afraid to try, this is for you. If you love to write, but can never find the time, this is for you. If you read the words of your favourite authors and despair that you’ll ever be that good, this is definitely for you.
At the International Writers’ Collective we believe that anyone with the desire and dedication can learn to write—and write amazingly well—with proper guidance. We've seen the proof over and over again.
Our core courses help you master the skills and techniques to reach your full potential as a poet or fiction writer, as well as providing a writing community to support you every step of the way. The courses are cumulative—each of the levels builds on the skills and techniques acquired in the one before. We recommend most people start at Level I. If you already have a degree in creative writing or have taken numerous technique-focused workshops, contact us and we’ll help you find the right level. Note: not all Levels may be available in every location every term—check our course catalogue.
From time to time, we also offer special classes with visiting authors and short-courses focused on a particular genre or skill set, for example, story structure, poetic form or publishing. Depending on the material, these range in duration from a single evening or weekend to multiple sessions over the course of several weeks. Check our course catalogue to see what's coming up.
Need help with a particular project or can't make it to a regular course because of your schedule or location? Consider private coaching—available both online and in Amsterdam and The Hague. We can help you with a specific project or work in progress or design an individualised learning programme based on your needs and your schedule.
If you want to combine relaxation with learning, try one of our retreats for quality instruction in an inspiring location.
About our core courses
A Level I course is a great place to start whether you’re just getting going or you’ve been writing for a while and would like more formal instruction. The focus is on giving you mastery over techniques fundamental to both fiction and poetry, supporting you in establishing a writing routine, and encouraging you to try new things and stretch your imagination. You can choose whether you want to work on fiction or poetry or try a little of both.
During the 8 weeks you'll learn:
• How to read like a writer, so you can see how your favourite authors and poets work their magic—it's a skill that will serve you well throughout your writing life.
• How to construct a compelling narrator to tell your story.
• How to use elements of craft such as tone, mood, description, dialogue and action to reveal your characters and pull readers in and make them want more.
• How to give your fellow writers useful feedback.
• How to revise your own work—as any professional writer will tell you, writing well is all about revising well.
Plus you can look forward to a weekly dose of inspiration and to meeting great people. Each week you'll be bringing in up to two pages double-spaced of prose or single-spaced for lined poetry. See specific course description for details.
We recommend you allocate at least 3 hours outside of class to work on your writing and for online students, you'll need a bit more for critiquing (30 minutes to an hour). Some students spend less and some spend more. Of course, the more time you can spend, the more you will get out of the course.
Level I courses run for 8 weeks (6/8 weeks during the summer) and meet once a week.
The courses are designed to enable you to master a set of core skills and techniques over two to four terms—depending on your goals, focus and experience.
At the end of each term, your instructor will help you determine the best path forward. In general, students are ready to move to Level II when they are able to apply the target techniques successfully each week and are consistently able to recognise and articulate where the target techniques have been successfully applied in the work of their fellow students.
Level II builds on the core skills acquired in Level I and introduces techniques specific to fiction and poetry. Fiction writers will be studying how to create tension, write effective dialogue, and craft compelling openings and satisfying endings. Poets will be looking at effective use of rhythm, repetition, line breaks, white space and figurative language.
In Level II you’ll continue to grow your writerly toolkit through weekly exercises and in-depth analysis of poems and excerpts from stories and novels. The last quarter of the class is focused on carrying forward an exercise—building towards a complete story or publication-ready poem. In addition, writers who’ve completed at least one term of Level II have the opportunity to bring in a poem or up to 2000 words of fiction outside of the weekly exercises for critique.
We recommend you allocate at least 4 hours per week outside of class to work on your writing and to do the reading assignments. For online classes, you'll also need some time to critique - around an hour.
Level II courses run for 8 weeks with winter, spring and autumn terms in Amsterdam and online. See the specific course description for details.
This course is open to writers who have completed Level I (two terms) or equivalent training and by permission of the instructor. If you’re new to our group, please drop us a line before registering.
The Level II curriculum is designed to be completed over a minimum of 2 8-week terms and most students find it beneficial to do more. In general, students are ready to move to Level III when they are able to apply the target techniques successfully each week, are consistently able to see and articulate where the target techniques have been successfully applied in the work of their fellow students and demonstrate the ability to carry a piece to completion.
In Level III, writers bring together the skills acquired in Levels I and II. The focus is on deepening the emotional connection in your writing and further developing your own voice and material. Fiction writers work on building and sustaining readers’ interest over longer pieces. Weekly reading assignments and in-class discussions provide inspiration and help you continue to hone your technique.
Each week you’ll have the option to create your own exercise based on that week’s reading or to continue to develop a previous exercise. You can also schedule one night per term to bring in up to two poems or 3000 words (roughly 8 pages) of a story or novel outside of the regular syllabus for critique.
We recommend you allocate at least 4 hours per week outside of class to do the reading assignments and work on your writing, preferably in two separate sessions. Some students spend less and some spend more. Of course, the more time you can spend, the more you will get out of the course. For online courses, you'll need around an hour for critiquing.
Level III courses run for 8 weeks winter, spring and autumn and meet once a week in Amsterdam and online (see the specific course description for details).
This course is open to writers who have completed Level II and by permission of the instructor. If you’re not sure if you qualify, get in touch. Students who have attained mastery over the elements of craft and are ready to take on a book-length project (a novel or collection of stories or poetry), can apply for Level IV.
Level IV is designed to provide ongoing support to writers who have completed Levels I – III and are working on completing individual projects, usually with an eye to publication. During the term, you’ll have the opportunity to submit work every other week for in-class discussion of your work. See course description for details.
Level IV workshops run for 10 weeks with winter, spring and autumn terms in Amsterdam and online.
We recommend you allocate at least four hours per week for your writing and an hour to an hour and a half every other week to give a thorough read of the work of the writers in your class.
This course is open to writers who have completed Level III and by permission of the instructor. Students are considered to have successfully completed Level IV when they have finished a book-length project—a novel, story collection or poetry chapbook. If they choose, students can continue in Level IV classes indefinitely.