Teaching and Mentoring
I teach creative writing and fiction at all levels, from beginner to Master’s Degree. I also run workshops for academics (from undergraduates to professors) on how to make their writing more engaging and intelligible. In every class and workshop, I aim for a synthesis of inspiration and practical aptitude. I approach creative writing not only as an academic subject, but also as something offering rewards beyond the academic and commercial. My journey from the world of the law, to the very different, but overlapping, world of fiction, has shaped my belief in the restorative power of storytelling: every single one of us has a tale to tell, and some of us, many more. Or, as Dickens puts it in The Pickwick Papers, there are some things better out than in.
As a Senior Teaching Fellow on the Writing Programme at Warwick University (2018; 2019) I gave a series of masterclasses on being edited, and on reading like a writer. In my weekly workshop on Long Fiction, through a detailed analysis of seminal texts by, among others, Kate Chopin, Ali Smith, J D Salinger and Haruki Murakami, I taught the craft of writing fiction. As well, I facilitated group discussions of students’ own work produced during the 10-week course, and guided the group in a series of creative writing exercises designed to elicit clear, compelling and marketable fiction.
‘Elanor was a superb teacher of our core MA Fiction Workshop. She was able to combine post-graduate level literary criticism of set texts with constructive, sensitive and often transformative feedback on students’ work. We came to have complete trust in her professionalism, pedagogy and good judgement and will be delighted to have her back whenever possible.’
Prof. Sarah Moss FRSL, Director of the Warwick Writing Programme, University of Warwick
MA Students’ feedback:
‘Elanor’s workshops played an absolutely vital role for me in honing and crafting my work. A piece I developed in her workshop got me my first agent, and ended up becoming my first novel. Her sessions helped me to understand the direction I wanted to take as a writer. For me, the focus of the workshops was key. Elanor combines highly technical, specific feedback with more a process-driven, creative approach. This enabled me to be critical and stringent with my writing, while maintaining my confidence and wellbeing. Writing can be a scary and exposing craft, but Elanor’s workshops created a safe and nurturing environment to explore creativity. I cannot recommend them enough.’
‘I always loved going to Elanor’s classes, as they were full of great tips and advice to help improve your writing … Elanor created an atmosphere that was inclusive, enthusiastic and inspirational. Her workshops felt like a group of writers who were meeting in the great spirit of sharing, learning from each other ways to improve their writing and their writing practice. I always left the classes focussed and re-engaged with writing and literature in general and feeling like I had been given a real shot in the arm towards my current projects. If there was an NHS for writing Elanor would be the prescription! A truly brilliant and inspirational teacher.’
‘A workSHOP with Elanor is a workOUT for the writing muscles – it strengthens, hones, tones and builds the stamina needed to get any writing project off the blocks and over the line. I can’t recommend her approach highly enough. She strikes the perfect balance between encouragement and challenge, and never skims over the tough decisions or difficult questions in the writing process.’
I have been a visiting teacher for school creative writing clubs, have judged school writing competitions, and have given talks to small and large groups of pupils of all ages.
‘Elanor has a sensitivity that enables her to empathise with those who for the first time are discovering the anxieties caused by committing fiction to paper, or who are struggling with the written word. … She criticised and advised on the work with such tact and made such excellent suggestions that [the pupils] found the experience inspirational.’
Andrew Dobbin (MA) Cantab, Head of English, The Hall School, London
‘Elanor led a workshop with the extra-curricular writing group I coordinate in my school. The participants were aged between 10 and 13, quick to boredom if they didn’t feel stimulated.
Elanor not only captured and held their attention with a variety of activities, she demonstrated a genuine interest in their efforts and listened to their ideas. I was particularly impressed with how valued she made every member of the group feel, especially those less confident in sharing their ideas.
Elanor shared some of her own strategies for creating and shaping stories. The clarity and enthusiasm with which she passed on her experience inspired the group, both during and after the session. When they reluctantly left, they not only had a deeper appreciation for the Writer’s craft, they had some real skills they could apply academically.
I very much hope Elanor will work with more of my students in the near future. I cannot recommend her highly enough for engaging young writers.’
Creative Writing Club Co-ordinator, The Hall School, London
‘Elanor’s talk was excellent – we really enjoyed having her.’
Senior School English teacher, University College School, London
I mentor new writers one-to-one (giving a tailored 6-month course as a first novel progresses, or my own ‘MOT’ of a completed manuscript, with notes and edits) and give creative writing workshops for small groups.
‘Thank you for all your help in helping me to develop my interest in creative writing. The one to one tutorials I found to be immensely enjoyable and encouraging because of your collaborative style and enthusiasm. The thought you gave to the format of each session (sent to me in advance) so that it took my particular interests into account always whet my appetite for further writing and your summary of our discussions (sent after each session) helped with my focus and sense of progress. Your knowledge and love of reading of many diverse authors and subjects was an essential part that informed our conversation and my writing.
I have already recommended to friends that they contact you for writing support.’
Bee Robb, private student
As a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow I deliver writing workshops to postdoctoral researchers and research staff at University College London, and have given workshops to undergraduates at Sheffield University and at Aston University.
‘Excellent. Really informative. This really helped me to think in a very different way about academic discourse, which can often be regarded as rather homogenous and “fixed.”’
PhD student, UCL
‘[I] will think back to this afternoon when I am blocked! So many great ideas. It was really useful.’
Associate Professor, UCL
‘The activities were approachable, effective and easy to engage with. There was a good, non-judgmental atmosphere.’
Social science researcher, UCL
‘All the activities were thought provoking and [offered] something that it is original and that most academics do not experience… Several participants noted that thinking comparatively about genres of ‘creative writing’ as against highly structured academic context helped them to analyse what they do as academics, particularly in relation to engaging the reader.’
Social science researcher, UCL
One-to-One Writing Support
As a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow I gave one-to-one writing support to around 150 postgraduates and undergraduates at the London School of Economics and Political Science (2017-18.) In a collaborative way, I commented on students’ work and introduced them to my own methods of structuring and honing long form academic writing. I placed particular emphasis on planning and structure, as well as clarity of expression, persuasive and coherent argument, and simplicity of style.