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Writers’ Retreat 2013 evokes wonderful memories

Chichester Copywriter’s Writers’ Retreat 2013 was all we could have asked for, and more.  Everyone who attended really enjoyed the writing workshops and talks provided by authors Cathy Watts, Penelope Bush, Denise Bennett and Mary Atkinson and industry specialists Rachel Soothill and Katy Lassetter – our very own Chichester Copywriter. They all went away brimming with ideas and ready to get scribbling! Katy has received so much lovely feedback over the last few weeks that she would like to share it with you here….


“I would like to thank you very much for your careful preparation and delivery of our writing retreat weekend programme. There was a nice balance between workshops, writing exercises and breaks.

“I am left with wonderful impressions and memories and I feel privileged to meet so many amazing people – you, the group and the speakers. I particularly enjoyed Denise Bennett’s talk and Mary Atkinson’s talk as I connected with both speakers and their subjects in a more profound way.

The venue exceeded my expectations!

There was a rich variety of good quality food and the cream tea was a lovely sweet touch!”

Irina Alexa, Chichester, West Sussex.

A reflection of Chichester Copywriter’s Writers’ Retreat 2013

A happy little window that brought two days of sunshine to the South Coast from 6th-7th April was nothing short of a meteorological miracle and it made the experience of the Writers’ Retreat all the more magical.

The weekend kicked off with a workshop from children’s writer Cathy Watts (Sandies in the Beach Huts, 2008; Hello Again Sandies!!, 2009; Watch Out for the Sandies, 2011; The Woodies by the Ponds, 2012 – all published by Pomegranate Press). Once we had discussed the inspirational merits of looking around – from considering your setting as a whole to noticing the finer details – the group set off for a walk along Cobnor Point. They were tasked with thinking about everything they noticed – smells and sights, sounds and feelings – and using these to inspire a piece for a group writing exercise.

This is a walk that starts close to Cobnor Activities centre (the Writers’ Retreat venue) and continues along the coastal path, offering views of Chichester Harbour one side with fields and a water vole conservation area on the other. As the writers passed the hustle and bustle of dinghy races on the water they approached Cobnor Point, which provided views across the Solent to the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth. Beyond this, the writers headed down onto the beach to check out the gnarly old trees that grow there and take in the sea air as the waves lapped the shore. Some even walked among the weed and driftwood back to the venue. Here is a Cobnor-inspired musing by Cathy Watts:


Colours at Cobnor

Poppy-red leggings crewing the boats whose sun-yellow sails carry the breeze along the sky-blue channel – watched all the while by apricot-orange safety boats and lady in fuchsia-purple-pink sitting on the shoreline, with its bottle-green algae, noticing the rainbow colours at Cobnor.

By Cathy Watts

You can see Cobnor through Caroline Auckland’s eyes here.


After a lunch consisting of a scrumptious selection of homemade quiche and salads, a Saturday afternoon spent with YA novel author Penelope Bush (Alice in Time, 2010; Diary of a Lottery Winner’s Daughter, 2011; Me, Myself, Milly, 2013 – all published by Piccadilly Press) brought fascinating insight into all the elements that make a novel. The students considered the idea, plot, structure, characters, voice and setting. One of the workshop exercises included writing about a character, once when looking on and again from inside the character’s body. This revealed just about how important it is to get inside your character to create a convincing and gripping read. Penelope also talked about her career as a successful author and filled everyone in on a few more secrets about how to keep the reader hooked.

On Sunday, everyone arrived at Cobnor on a second beautiful morning but this time they started with an eye-opening creative writing workshop from award-winning poet Denise Bennett (Planting the Snow Queen, 2011 – Oversteps Books). The group took part in some flow-writing, which helped them to get their ideas to paper and it was amazing just how many thoughts turned to words as the writers let their pens wander. After looking at poems inspired by people, objects and places they were asked to create their own pieces using the same writing prompts. When looking at places, Robert Seatter’s I Come From inspired both tutor and students, who all crafted personal versions of the poem.

Sunday afternoon brought treats of all varieties, from an afternoon tea with homemade scones made by Katy’s mum and delectable cakes Whipped and Baked by Aida Stephens to a motivational talk with complementary therapist, author and tutor, Mary Atkinson.

Mary talked about her early career in journalism where she acquired a passion for interviewing people from all walks of life and which she later used to set patients at ease when working as a Complementary Therapist Volunteer at St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Chichester. She also talked about her involvement with the charity Cocoro and how storytelling, through the art of story massage, had a profound effect on the victims of 2011 tsunami in Japan when she visited them last year. Mary gave a demonstration of The Smiling Flowers Story Massage written by herself and Takiko Ando for the children in Japan. This revealed just how relaxing and engaging story massage can be while showing how story massage has an unlocking power that not only helps people to communicate but is also therapeutic.

The last talk of the weekend was Marketing and PR Tips for Writers with Rachel Soothill and Katy Lassetter. Chichester Copywriter’s Katy began by outlining how social media – namely blogs, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – can help writers to communicate with other writers and increase brand awareness. Rachel continued with an explanation of the three types of press and hints and tips on how to write press releases. This generated some good discussions among the students and other speakers from Sunday’s schedule, who stayed to make the most of our marketer’s informative talk.

Here is some more feedback from those who attended the Writers’ Retreat:


“I have just returned from Chichester Copywriter’s Writers’ Retreat 2013. It was an excellent two days, with a varied, informative and stimulating schedule. Katy was very welcoming and the whole event was organised in a very professional way…

“It was in such a beautiful, inspiring place where the words just flowed and joined up creatively. Highly recommended.”

Caroline Auckland, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

“I came to day two of the Writers’ Retreat. All the sessions were well-crafted and thought-provoking. There was an interesting mix of attendees. Location and catering also excellent!”

Diana Morgan, Chichester, West Sussex.

“Many thanks for all your hard work and effort; your thoughtfulness in all provisos, from topics covered to food devoured! The weekend gave me a lot to think about and I was so glad to be able to participate…

“I know my scribblings will carry me forward and I intend to continue with them. I’m excited to see where they will take me.”

N Hall, Pagham, West Sussex.


There are plans for a third Writers’ Retreat in Summer 2014 at the new location of Arundel, West Sussex. Stay tuned for more information about this and any upcoming Creative Writing Workshops. To be added to Katy’s mailing list, so that you are informed of the next Chichester Copywriter’s Writers’ Retreat as soon as tickets go on sale, either contact Katy or leave a comment below.

To see more photographs from the Writers’ Retreat, please visit Chichester Copywriter’s Facebook page.

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