Dear writer, copywriter, branding person, corporate communications professional, poet, storyteller, word lover
World-famous, there’s-nothing-else-like-it-anywhere Dark Angels writing workshop lands on east coast of America in 2017
How goes it? Is your writing everything you want it to be? Could you do with a shot of inspiration? A double shot of joie de vivre? A triple shot of ‘I never knew I could write like that?’ Is there a wee bit of room for improvement? For a potentially life-changing experience?
I want to introduce you to some of the work I do and the people I do it with. I’m reaching your way for a couple of reasons. You’re a good writer. You’re interested in words and stories. For you, business, life, and art are not all that far apart. No silos. And, you like to connect. Which means you are, ahem, the target audience.
first, the back story…
A few years ago, I went on a few writing workshops. The first was in Spain, outside of Seville. The next one was at Oxford. During which we had dinner with Philip Pullman. So, these weren’t just any writing workshops. These were Dark Angels workshops. Twelve years in, over 300 people have rolled through the Angelic writing machine. People talked. So I went on this workshop, they’d say. And they’d get all glassy eyed. The thing was a phenomenon.
Then, in 2015, I was invited to join the firm, as it were, as a tutor. Or, as we are officially known, Associate Partner. The three original founders of the company, John Simmons, Stuart Delves, Jamie Jauncey, felt the need for reinforcements. So nine additional writers, including yours truly, were, you know, onboarded. We are now 12. (Being asked to join that crew was sweet. I cried.) Here we all are at Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre.
The tagline for Dark Angels is Creative Writing in Business. We run our workshops in Spain, England, Ireland, Scotland, possibly New Zealand and this year, the US. Our focus is on business writing, although all kinds of writers have come. Our ship has three captains: London-based novelist and copywriter John Simmons; Edinburgh-based copywriter, poet and playwright, Stuart Delves; and copywriter, musician, and novelist Jamie Jauncey. You will not find three kinder, more talented writer-humans if you tried.
We stand for the power of words and writing, and for personal connection, kindness and fellowship.
When you hear the concept of ‘brand voice’ or ‘tone of voice’ in marketing communications, that’s John Simmons idea. (Many people are saying that the notion of voice in business writing was in the air in the 90s and Alan Siegel of Siegel + Gale also came up with voice as a concept at around the same time. We accept this version of history.)
I discovered John’s books in 2006 and got very excited. Long story short — I got to know him, became a friend of his and his family, have stayed with him in London, and now I’m part of the company. He and his family are lovely and brilliant people.
The whole Dark Angels thing is virtually unknown in America. (Hence, this.) At least I think it is. As far as I can tell, I’m quite possibly the only American who has been to a DA workshop in those 12 years.
The workshops usually are residential affairs between three and four or five nights. (We’ve recently added a Taster Day option.) We spend a lot of time writing. We have our recipe book filled with writing exercises — sonnets and six-word stories and all kinds of fascinating, challenging and imaginative ways of wrestling with story, with words, with language, with writing. Ours is not a ‘how to’ kind of workshop. It’s more a matter of creating a safe, intelligent space to fucking write. We help guide writers as they strike out into different territory. And this is truly different for a writer’s workshop: no critiques. We’ll offer some thoughts about the value of what we’ve asked you to do and we’ll ask you to tell us about it. A simple ‘how was it, trying to write that sonnet, tell us about it.’
The combination of our writing exercises, some collaborations, our conversations about books, writing, music, art, our dinners together, our wine, etc. — the whole wonderful smorgasbord of writers talking, thinking things out and writing, has a powerful effect on people who attend. Folks find new confidence; they get emotional, they get reinvigorated. They find their voice. Imaginations get stoked and stimulated. Lots of people have said the experience changed their lives. I’m one.
The curious and interesting thing is how we tie our creative writing exercises back to business. There are real pearls of wisdom to take back to work.
So Dark Angels is going to come to America this year in early October. We’ll be in Dartmouth, MA, right next to New Bedford in Melville territory. We’ll be in this house in the photo below. John Simmons and I are running this one together. Reader, it is catered.
So I’d like to invite you to come. Or, if you think someone on your team at HubSpot, or MarketingSherpa, or Slack, or WebMD could benefit from an immersion experience that will likely excite them and boost their confidence in their writing…We’re aiming for 6–9 people. But no more than 10 I don’t think.
Many Dark Angels writers are freelancers. Many are in-house writers from places like —
Arts Council of Wales, Bang & Olufsen, Barclays, The BBC, BP, British Airways, Carlsberg Breweries, Clore Leadership Programme, Corporate Culture, Elmwood, The Environment Council, Granada Media, Innocent, Interbrand, Lever Faberge, Mazars, National Library of Wales, O2, Penguin Books, QI, Royal Society of Arts, Scottish Arts Council, Sotheby’s Europe, Swiss Reinsurance, Three.
The crew in Scotland…
Thanks for reading. If you’d like to know more, visit the website.