Thank you for your interest in AWCS. We are excited that you’re considering joining our organization. If you’re still on the fence, here’s some quick answers that might help you make a more informed decision. Please feel free to contact us if you can’t find the answer here or you need more information.

I’ve never written anything, ever. Can I still join?

Definitely. Our goal is to inspire and mentor a passion for writing and we encourage anyone who wants to write, or thinks they want to write, to come and take a class.

I’ve heard that you have to be a published writer to join. Is that true?

Absolutely not. Please see previous question and answer. We don’t care if you’re published or not. Everyone comes to writing for different reasons. If you want to be published, we can help you. If you’re writing for fun or for cathartic reasons, we fully support that. No pressure. Ever.

I’ve heard you focus solely on literary writing, but I want to write a different genre.

Great! We support all kinds of writing. Literary writing isn’t really a genre anyway. It’s a style that helps make your writing pop that much more, so no matter what genre you want to write, we have something for everyone and we will help you develop as a writer and hone your craft at the same time.

I’ve been writing for years. I’m published. I’ve taken classes at the university level. All your classes seem too basic for me. I’ve learned all I need to know. Why should I join your organization?

Something we have learned over the years is that you can never stop learning, can never know everything there is know about writing. Everyone has a different approach and a new instructor might suggest something just slightly different that you never considered before. Keep an open mind. There’s always more to be learned.

However, as a member, you also have a bright new facility where you can come and write whenever you want. Check our Calendar of Events for open writing times or become a volunteer.

Maybe you would like to start giving back to new writers. We give experienced, published writers the opportunity to become part of our teaching team and we’re always looking for new instructors. Apply to be the next Writer in Residence. Apply to be a Manuscript Reviewer. Apply to be a mentor. There are plenty of ways you can still benefit from being part of our organization.

Do I have to become a member to take a class?

No. We have non-member rates as well.

I really want to take a class but I can’t really afford it right now.

No problem. You can apply for a subsidy. Or we are more than happy to make payment arrangements.

Do you do online courses?

No. All of our classes are face to face in Calgary.

I wrote a poem, story, novel. Will you read it?

Absolutely. Submit your writing to our Manuscript Review Service or book a consultation with our Writer in Residence and we are happy to have someone provide you with helpful, thoughtful feedback. We also have a Prose Group and a Poetry Group where you are welcome to drop in, read a few pages of your story or poem aloud and get on the spot feedback from a group of writers.

I want to write. I want to take a class. Where do I start?

This is a difficult question for our staff to answer. Only you know where you’re comfortable and your experience level. But here are some basic recommendations.

If you have never written, don’t know if you want to write, just want to do something to get out of the house, try Creative Writing Pen to Paper. It’s a basic, no pressure approach to creative writing. You will learn how to create images on a page, how to use sensory details to do that. You learn about free fall writing, you learn about letting your ideas guide you and you might be surprised at what comes out.

Or, maybe you’ve written a little. Taken a class a long time ago. Know that you want to write. That you want to be published. Start with Creative Writing Basics. You will learn more about the actual elements of writing such as scene, setting, description, character, dialogue, flashbacks…all the stuff that’s needed to create a good story or poem or creative nonfiction.

Or, you’ve taken classes before so take whatever class you think is best suited to you. If you want to write memoir, take a creative nonfiction class. If you want to write poetry, take a poetry class. If you want to write a novel, take a novel class. But please be honest about your abilities. If you only have an idea for a novel, it’s probably not wise to take a class that works through an already completed draft.

Our biggest piece of advice is to take it slow. Don’t rush. You’ll figure out where you want to go next or your writing will guide in a direction you didn’t know you had any interest in.

How big are your classes?

Our classes are usually 8-12 people max, sitting around a table, writing and talking and sharing. No pressure.

I’m scared. Writing is a solitary endeavour. Why should I take a class?

Why do you believe that writing is a solitary endeavour? Because media has said so? The movies have portrayed writers talking to the demons in their head, writing frantically over a typewriter, in their house coat, unshaven, unshowered an empty bottle of vodka on their desk, a cigarette burning down to nothing in the ashtray?

This is simply not true. Most writers lead very normal lives. Have jobs and families to support. And while the writing part typically is done alone, the learning and support part is crucial to your success. You wonder why you can’t write? You have this constant self-doubt? You’re not alone. Every writer experiences this and wouldn’t it be better to be able to share your thoughts and fears with people who get it?

Is there a magic formula to writing a book?

No. Writing is subjective. There is no put slot A into slot B and you have a story. No instructor is going to give you THE answer. You will learn suggestions that have worked for other writers and it’s up to you to take the information given and use what resonates best with you. There is no rule book that says this is how it has to be done. That’s the magic of writing. You do it your way. We just help you do it the best you possibly can.

I want to be rich and famous like Stephen King or JK Rowling.

Don’t we all. Let’s be realistic though. Most writers don’t make a lot of money. Many first books flop. Many first drafts aren’t worth the paper they are printed on and may never see beyond the drawers of your desk. That’s okay. Most of the writers that we aspire to be like didn’t get there overnight either.

And, sometimes you get lucky. You write the right book at the right time that appeals to the right people. It’s not impossible, but it’s unrealistic to go into writing thinking you’re going to be an overnight success. Writing is hard work. It takes time. And it’s your perseverance and dedication to your craft that’s going to help you get there. And we can help you get there.

How do I get published?

Write something. Submit it to a magazine or publisher or agent. Get rejected. Submit it again. Get rejected again. Submit it again. Get rejected again. Rewrite it. Submit it. Get rejected. Submit it again. Get it accepted.

Or, self-publish.

What is free fall writing?

Free fall writing is a method of writing developed by W.O Mitchell in which the writer learns to shut off that inner editor and just write, allowing the words to flow onto the page, accepting that what comes out is not going to be brilliant, but allowing it to happen anyway.

It’s been adapted over the years by many people and we use it as a way of generating ideas, allowing the writer to just be free and write whatever they want without fear of criticism.

Why are you called the Alexandra Writers Centre?

For 35 years we were located in the Alexandra Centre Society building in Inglewood. Our founding members named the organization after the Alexandra Centre and after Queen Alexandra. Now we are in a new location. It’s a lot of work to change a name, so we are not going to.

Where are you located?

The new address is 460, 1721, 29th Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2T 6T7

Google Maps is still confused about our move. We are now located in the cSpace King Edward Arts Centre in South Calgary. Only 3 blocks north of 33rd Ave SW, the main road through Marda Loop. We are on the 4th floor across from the elevator.