The Writer’s Cycle is a key supportive resource for writing educators. Developed by the Paper Nations team of researchers and writers in consultation with over 700 authors, writing tutors and literary organisations across the UK, The Writer’s Cycle is now available to download.
To those of you who have fed into the development of The Writer’s Cycle, thank you! We are very grateful to you for your time, care, and willingness to share expertise. With your help, we hope this resource will go on to help hundreds of teachers, workshop leaders, group organisers, events maestros, lecturers, and educators of every kind to better support other writers. By improving writing education to suit the needs of real writers and to engender a culture of free creative exploration in writing development, we hope to create a positive shift in the writing ecology.
The Development of The Writer’s Cycle
The Writer’s Cycle was developed in consultation with hundreds of writers and organisations. Work on the cycle began during our 2016-18 programme, which focused on young people and was initially imagined as a tool to support writing educators whose work focused on children and young writers.
After significant research, a committee featuring educators from small and large organisations (including First Story, Arvon, and Ministry of Stories) formed to review and shape our early drafts of The Writer’s Cycle in early 2018. One such draft was featured in Writers In Education magazine (Issue Vol. 76) and presented to the National Association of Writers in Education Conference in November 2018 for further feedback.
In our 2019-21 programme, we conducted further research and development to test and adapt The Writer’s Cycle to adult groups. We ran adult workshops and events, for example at the 2019 StoryTown Corsham writing festival and through our Dare to Write? Academy programme. These supported various types of writers, from brand-new writers to facilitators looking to apply for grant funding.
The Writer’s Cycle incorporates this research and is applicable to educators who wish to design programmes and courses for any age group. By creating a resource for emerging and experienced writers, The Writer’s Cycle aims to enable writing developers to create a structure of support that adapts to the needs of individual writers and local writing groups.
We have also responded to requests from individuals and organisations for specific support surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. In the set of Writer’s Cycle resources, we’ve included an executive summary and full-length paper which explores the effect of the pandemic on writers and their creative processes, entitled, Beyond Covid-19: The Writer’s Cycle as a Model for Resilience, Transformation and Inclusion.
When we first started work on The Writer’s Cycle, we envisaged it as a resource for those who work with young people. The model’s emphasis on creative values such as experimentation, risk-taking, and time and space to explore makes it an effective tool for engaging children and young people with the daily habits of writing. An independent evaluator noted that Paper Nations’ resources have helped to address the problem of uneven access to high-quality creative writing education in schools and community settings.
Jonathan Davidson, Chair of NAWE said of this report:
"This report highlights the importance of writing for pleasure, of exploration and play, and the role of creative writing in building confidence for children and young people. It outlines the vital role played by networks in supporting good practice and developing vibrant writing communities, as well as making recommendations to help the sector meet the needs of pupils, writers, and teachers. We look forward to working with our partners in the next phase, and to building a creative writing ecology that supports all writers in education."
Sarah Crown, Director of National England at Arts Council England said:
“We are delighted that Paper Nations and First Story will be sharing replicable delivery and business models as the legacy of the Creative Writing in Schools programme, to inform, inspire, and support more children and young people to write creatively and for pleasure, in and outside school.”
The Writer’s Cycle is rooted in the experiences of over 700 writers and writer-facilitators, and has been developed with input from published, established authors as well as emerging writers. The model which has emerged from this research is designed to have overarching appeal to writers and writer-facilitators of all ages, from any background, and at any phase in their writing lifecycle.
This is a framework which seeks to lay out a series of adaptable, personalised, and therefore widely applicable maps which describe pathways to creative fulfilment for individual writers. The Writer’s Cycle positions the writer as an author of transformation, and celebrates the power of writing to bring about personal, cultural, artistic and societal shifts.
Containing actionable suggestions for how to support writers on their creative journeys, The Writer’s Cycle recognises the mutual relationship between thriving individual writers and a thriving writing ecology overall. Its reflexive, cyclical, enduring nature makes it a vital tool for imagining and implementing widespread transformations in writing practices, cultures and education. This resource attempts to articulate approaches which can begin to envisage and build a world in which the benefits and possibilities of creative writing truly are ‘for all’.
Speaking of the impact of Paper Nations reach on the National Association of Writers in Education Seraphima Kennedy, Director of NAWE has said:
“The Paper Nations research was a real turning point for NAWE. We were given the opportunity to test out ideas emerging from the research collaboratively and directly with grassroots projects. The research enabled us to form new relationships and initiatives. The Writer’s Cycle was a very important output and was shared at the NAWE Conference and through our publications and networks.”
Lead Authors: Bambo Soyinka and Lucy Sweetman.
Supporting Authors: Greg Bond, Lily Green, Joanna Nissel and Isabelle Thompson.
Cycle Design: Bambo Soyinka with Jono Lewarne, Jennifer McAlone, and Joanna Nissel
Illustrations: Jennifer McAlone