Latest info on Inishbofin Jaunt writing holidays 2014

Hi all!

I’m delighted to say we’ll have a complementary Landscape drawing course with the fine artist and teacher Martin Meyler over two mornings on our 6 September Jaunt to Bofin.

See this URL above for the very latest poster/ brochure and info.

Comfortable and good-value Self catering and B and B acommodation can be sourced for you if you contact me soon! I have a limited stock of each. Booking deadline for JULY Jaunt is 30 June without exception, so get in touch soon at 086 1701418 and if interested in the July trip. 9 AUGUST is the booking deadline for the SEPTEMBER JAUNTS which run for 7 nights from 6th Sept and 5 nights from Sept 13th.

Budget for €280 Self catering in a single room ( first few bookings ensuite), and €310 upwards for B and B for 1 week, depending on how quickly you book. Accommodation is always scarce on Bofin but as I have been running the trips for many years I am holding rooms at the lovely Beach Bar B and B as well as in Aileen Murray’s East End Beach house and Noel Scholfields fine big Fawnmore house, for the different events. Early booking is, as they say, very much advised if you want to avail of this accommodation. If there is anything else available on the island besides what I have secured, it will be a lot more expensive than what I can offer. Contact me, Yvonne Cullen, at the number and email above for further info and to book.  If you’re a first-time visitor to the blog, please do also browse the tips etc and consider LIKING the facebook page Yvonne Cullen’s Writing Train for more regular writing tips and info. Look forward to hearing from you!

Yvonne C


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The September 13 departing INISHBOFIN JAUNT will be a little shorter than originally advertised, at 5 days not 7, and with a correspondingly lower fee. See link here for info. Booking deadline in 3 weeks, 21 June, looking forward to hearing from lots of you soon!

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Train won’t be running for the next ten days till June 8th!





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Hi all!

Between now and June 8th I’ll be off the Train, writing. You can text me re bookings, at 086 1701418 and I will get back to you as quickly as I can. Saturday class at the National Library will be happening. There will be no Tuesday night class on 3rd or 10th JUNE, or Thursday night class on June 5th but Thursday will definitely run on June 12th.  There are still a couple of spaces left in Tuesday nights at the Westin hotel (13 sessions for a fee of 11) and I can take bookings for them by text. I’m sure I could have the odd quick phone chat as well, to discuss a course with you, if you text me and request that. I’ll be back on the Train from Monday June 9th. The other up-coming courses that might interest you are: Monday nights starting June 16th in Glasthule and the INISHBOFIN JAUNTS ( dates and info here on the blog). Look forward to being back at work on the 9th with a manuscript gone!



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Timetables for INISHBOFIN JAUNTS 2014!



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It’s official: we’re off to Bofin again! 8MAYFINAL ACCOMM BOFIN   2014 INISHBOFIN JAUNT TIMETABLE PDF

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A lovely programme of classes, with the benefit of taking place in a couple of segments  across the summer: this class also happens in the nicest airiest, most peaceful ( and one of the most centrally– not to mention culturally– located) cafes in town!
In my infinite if at at times slightly eccentric wisdom: ), this is what I have decided to offer on Saturday mornings at the N.L.I. this term. A slight tweak to the info in the timetable above.
This course will now consist of 9 meetings across the summer, starting on May 24. It will begin with an extra long session of 2.5-2.75 hours in week one, to get you ready to work by yourselves for the two following weeks. First session will also supply you with lots of materials, tailored writing and creative challenges plus a complimentary copy of ALL GOOD THINGS BEGIN, the fab anthology of new writing I had the honour of editing in 2006.  The two WEEKS OFF to get a batch of writing done will then fall in: May 31 and June 7. In my experience, having some time out allows you to absorb what you’re learning and to really make the most of the course.
We will regroup on Saturday 14th June and run as follows: JUNE 14, 21,28, July 5, 12, 19. We will close for the following two weeks  We will have two further sessions on dates in August that best suit the majority of you.
The fee for this 9 session course, with the extra long first meeting and anthology and the two gaps in the timeframe for own-time writing will be €210.
To book, email or phone me, Yvonne Cullen,  on 086 1701418
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New classes make me think of this Villa Lobos tune, The Little Train!

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Writing Trains are getting ready to leave the station, AKA classes start again SOON! Woo hoo!


Writing Train With Yvonne Cullen: SUMMER 2014 COURSE DATES AND SPECIAL OFFERS!


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I will be offering classes and workshops in 3 waves across the summer. First out of the Train station this summer are: 
SANDYCOVE, SOUTH DUBLIN: Thursday night Advanced Writing workshop, the legendary WRITING TRAIN, now 10 years on the track, departs again on May 15th for a Glasthule, Co. Dublin summer season.(12 meetings across the summer, with 5 definite weeks off alerted upfront (1 x June, 1 x July and 3 x August) so you can plan holidays. ADDED BONUS: Pay €335 for 12 sessions, access to 14. Meet times 7- 9.45 p.m/ 10.p.m when the spirit moves us. Tea, coffee and summer evening briquette fires, plus option to work out in my garden, weather allowing. A very moderate BYOB and sharing snacks culture will also be in evidence. And we’ll work wonders on your work and we’ll all have a great time!
CITY CENTRE CLASSES:Tuesday night WRITING TRAIN, the same developing/ advancing writers’ workshop, in the lovely, central Dublin city setting of the Westin Hotel, Westmoreland Street. Starts Tues. 20th May, 6.45 p.m.-9.30 with time for a social and creative wind-down with a glass or a cuppa’ in hand after at least some of the sessions. Same offer as Thursday night: pay for 12 meetings at €340 and access 14, with 5 definite ‘gap weeks’ across the summer for holiday plans. 
Saturday morning Developing Writers’ class, think-tank and workshop all-in-one starts on May 25th: 10 meetings across the summer, pay for 9 at €225 with 5 definite weeks out to facilitate summer plans. Lovely handy city venue at the  National Library cafe.10.15-.12.45 and we usually stay for the tasty lunch there. Saturday afternoon START TO WRITE 2.30 – 4.30 also city centre cultural cafe venue. SHORT ATTENDANCE AT THESE COURSES ALSO POSSIBLE to fit with summer plans. Contact: /  0861701418
INISHBOFIN JAUNT island writing holiday weekends and retreats will take place from July 24th and on first 2 weekends in September. 6-day events with 2-days built in for writing retreat/exploring Bofin with local guides and relaxing in this Connemara paradise!
Feedback on recent Jaunts includes:  “You wove a web of magic around us all!” T. Byrne, July Jaunt 2012.“ If you are thinking of going, just go! Just go!” D. Gilbert, May Jaunt 2012.
Details from, 086 1701418. Jaunt Bookings open 12 MAY. 
Next wave of new classes will start from 26 May onwards, details soon. These will include: Monday and Friday night START TO WRITE in Glasthule, WEDS a.m. advanced workshop same setting.Third wave of classes will be starting from 13 June.


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The Inishbofin Jaunt


On Inishbofin Island, Connemara


with WRITING TRAIN and Yvonne Cullen        Now in its sixth year!

“If you are thinking of going, just go! Just go!” “You wove a web of magic around us!” Feedback on 2012 JAUNTS.

“DUBLIN’s BEST WRITING TEACHER” – DUBLINER MAGAZINE. “Her aim… a happier and healthier relationship with your creativity” – Abie Philbin Bowman.

“Our tutor, the legendary Yvonne Cullen, was a wonder” – Helena Nolan, THE STINGING FLY MAGAZINE.

CONTACT ME ON: / 086 1701418, visit LIKE Yvonne Cullen’s Writing Train on facebook to receive writing tips and updates from Writing Train.


Sept. 6-9, Developing Writers course with two day additional writing retreat after course ends (dates: Sept 10-11) at no extra accommodation fee for first 8 to book*

All in course fee: €480

SEPT. 13 – 16, Start to write with additional ‘ease in’ day, Sept 12th at no extra accommodation cost, for first 8 to book.* All in course fee: €455.

FOR FIRST EIGHT TO BOOK:  ALL IN FEE COVERS:*Accommodation for 6 nights  (DEVELOPING WRITER) or 5 nights, (START TO WRITE) on single occupancy basis in largely double rooms in shared island houses, (first four rooms booked are also en-suite).*tailored tuition (13-15 hrs, group-size-depending)  *1 hr at least of one-to-one time with tutor *4 days’ self-catered breakfast supplied and home-cooked lunch, one home-cooked dinner *Social nights and Group public reading night, alongside other impromptu group readings, plus all sorts of further spontaneous fun, walks, swims, cycles, trips, pub nights, star-gazing, corncrake listening, singin’ sessions  and whatever you’re having yourself, in the company of your Bofin-veteran teacher, Yvonne Cullen and her able assistants on the trip!

FOR FURTHER 4 participants: all as above, with guaranteed 4 nights accommodation and a promise from your facilitator to do all I can to achieve you the same bonus nights’ deal for as little further outlay as possible. Book as early as you can, to help me out!


3 places  at tuition, lunch & ents’ only rate (no accommodation) subject to availability, €320 each.


Some room share options may also be available subject to demand.


Please excuse appearance of these shortlinks to ACCOMMODATION and GENERAL INFO PAGE on BOFIN JAUNTS this year. Technically challenged!


People Inishbofin JT 2012





CONTACT ME ON: / 086 1701418, visit LIKE Yvonne Cullen’s Writing Train on facebook to receive writing tips and updates from Writing Train.


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White smoke! New dates for summer classes on the Train!

SUMMER at Cafe Joly, NLI. Kildare St.


Sat. 10.45- 1 P.M. DEVELOPING WRITER course, 8 weeks, €200, starts June 29th.

Sat. 2-4 P.M. START TO WRITE,7 wks, €175 starts July 6th

THURS 2-4 P.M. “From History to Story:”  ‘writing from research’ course, 7 wks, €175, starts July 11th.



Thurs. night Advanced Writing workshop starts July 11th.(5 meets, €140), Fri. night Writers’ Workshop, all levels, July 5th, (5 meets, €140), Weds p.m START TO WRITE, 5 meets, 24 July.  These classes take place in the living room of my book-filled house, 4 mins from Sandycove Dart Station. /  0861701418

INISHBOFIN JAUNT island writing holiday weekends and retreats, booking now open for Jaunts in September!

Feedback on recent Jaunts includes: “Thank you for facilitating and guiding this wonderful weekend!” S. Loughman, July Jaunt 2012. “You wove a web of magic around us all!” T. Byrne, July Jaunt 2012.“ If you are thinking of going, just go! Just go!” D. Gilbert, May Jaunt 2012. Details from, and 086 1701418.


I’ll drop a line later re BOFIN JAUNTS, late summer WRITING TRAIN readings and September timetable. And by summer’s end, I’ll blog a full report of finishing my book, “A WINTER QUARTERS!”

If there are courses you wish I was running, drop me a line and I’ll see what I can organise! Recently, I’ve been especially enjoying doing intensive writing burst sessions with second level students (1.5 hrs), to raise skills for short story writing, and primary level after school workshops ( sets of 8 -10 weeks), liaising directly with parents’ associations. Mentoring and reading of novels and poetry collections in-progress has also been a joy. So get in touch if any of these things sound like what you need!

Looking forward to hearing from some of you!


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Trump Cards…writing tricks to try when you’re stuck or ‘blocked.’

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(1) Lower your standards and keep right on going
(William Stafford &
Charles Bukowski must share credit for that idea!)
Peel a layer of skin off the onion: challenge yourself to go a layer further in, in truthfulness, by going a step in recklessness. (In other words drop your guard/ disable your censor and keep on going).

Make it more physical.
Cut it up, spread it out and move it around. Woody Allen and myself both seem to favour this! Joyce was a huge cut ‘n paste man as well, an “engineer” with his writing, he said. And on Brain pickings somewhere you’ll find 20 top writers’ tips including one from…was it Flaubert?… who says he is “more a scissors than a paste man.” I think we lost a lot when we created computer cut and paste!
“Go back through and hunt for the lies that are obvious”…(Michael Ondaatje) By this I think Ondaatje means the places where you are trying to get away with things, trying to pawn the reader off, trying to have an easy life rather than being rigorous and true. If it sits uncomfortably with you in the small hours as you walk to the bathroom– and that’s when it will sit uncomfortably with you – the reader isn’t going to thank you for it or enjoy it.
(5) Make it physically easier. Get a cuppa, sit where you long to sit rather than at a table. Take the work to bed or start it there. Didn’t Michael Holroyd write all his biographies in bed because, in his estimation, it was the only place his laziness could stand to spend so long at work?

(6)Head towards fun.
Keep your inner creative compass working freely. Keep the needle pointed towards fun, excitement, and discovery. (Credit here to Ray Bradbury and me!) If it’s not fun for you, it won’t be for the reader. Clearly.

I want first drafts to feel like a dive into a pool. I want to be weightless, for them.

So (7) there’s another one: write yourself a description of how you feel when it’s going well. Be alert to the moments when you lose that feeling. I believe you are following paths synaptic and sensory when you write, physical as well as intellectual. You know when you have wandered off the path. You know it in your body.

(8)Still stuck? Create a shape- challenge or structure- challenge; create a word-count challenge to give you a reason to get something done in THIS writing session. Keep to twenty-minute bursts. Or write when you know you have to leave the house/ your desk shortly.

(9) Still stuck? Let your standards hit the floor now. Rave, draw pictures, (Fellini created his LA STRADA clown, Gelsomina, that way!). Talk to yourself on paper (Elizabeth George and me). Or out loud as the kettle boils for yet another cup of tea   (me!) We are miners. Prospectors for gold…Until we hit a seam, and then we are as Czeslow Milosz says “the secretary of an invisible thing.”
(10) The invisible thing will only come dictate to us when it knows we’re listening, when it sees we’re at our post/ desk/cafe/armchair/floor/writer’s bed…(Picasso, Elizabeth Gilbert, me).

(11) Check in specifically to write badly, to write unbelievably badly. Do it. Write your “worst fear” version of your writing style. Let your flaws run riot. Writing has to be your sandpit, your playpen, where you are let throw things around.
(12) Even in this atrocity of a piece, there is probably a lot of good. Find it and work from it.
(13) Let feeling be your engine. Let words get drawn to them.
(14) Write to yourself about what stumps or scares you. Journal and noodle your way in. You’ll find yourself writing sentences for your piece without planning to.

(15) Let the words out to fit the rhythm of the message. Urgent, staccato, stuck…
(16) Stop and read like a writer. Pick up your favourite books. Read, but just until you are excited about words. This excitement contains your own creative excitement as well. Throw the book over your shoulder and pick up your pen!
(16) How would a seven-year-old write it?
(17) How insultingly plain could it get.
(18)Write what you mean- what you MEAN, I mean – on a separate scrap of paper. Move it down alongside your masterpiece. Find a place it fits.

Creating well requires us to be tuned in to how the world is feeling to us, as its transmitters, yes, but equally as creative machines. Listening to what’s working on us creatively and to where we want to be while we crack open a draft are equally important.

STUCK or STALLED at a more global level:
Make it
more comfortable on a routine level for yourself to be writing. Lower your physical/ psychological
expectations of yourself and keep right on going. How? Move from desk to armchair, from armchair to floor, from floor to bed. From home to cafe. To train. Keep going till you can produce the goods. Move from computer to pen and paper, from cut and paste to pen, paper, scissors and glue as mentioned above.
Ask for a smaller time commitment. Ask for fewer words. Then try asking for more, faster.

Promise to show someone something by date X.
Hang a tea towel over the computer screen so YOU can’t see what you’re doing till a certain point.
Buy THE MOTH and THE STINGING FLY. THE POETRY BUS and BARE HANDS. Buy the Indo once a month for new writing. Go to readings. Start showing yourself what you could do with your writing and where you could fit into your local scene.

And when you find projects you love, nourish them every way you can. Give them time, books, other kinds of learning. Give them trips. Promise them outings in print; find places to read pieces of them for audiences while they are works-in-progress. Never talk about them, though. Let them speak for themselves.

Let your pieces thicken up slowly via all the scraps of ideas you have for them. Honour all those scraps. Be prepared to write with them, be prepared that they may be all the first draft material you’ll ever have. Try to never lose a single scrap, a single possibly interesting creative thought.

Learn to know your project as you know people. What suits it? What language will communicate with it? Who needs to read it? Are you writing to them? If not, why not?

Lose the television. Lose the expectation that you’ll be out two or three nights a week. Learn to write in every short burst you get. If you don’t use those, think of all the waste to which they add up.

Write to yourself about your project before you get going on it each day. What are you afraid of? How badly do you fear you may write, this day? Work things out before you start today’s patch of work.

And believe that some day you’ll be looking back on work—a mountain range of work—and you’ll hardly believe how you have got  across it to here. Already now, though, the next two or three impossible projects will be bubbling up in your head!



© Yvonne Cullen and WRITING TRAIN 2013.

Yvonne Cullen’s Writing Train/ facebook

New term of my writing classes starts late January/ early February  2013 in venues around Dublin. 086 1701418 for more information.

LIKE the Yvonne Cullen’s Writing Train facebook page for more updates, reports from classes and writing tips. Or subscribe to the blog.


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