putting the tyger
back in the forest

the two-day course

Attendees prepare and send (well in advance) a written account of themselves – an ‘artist's statement’ or similar declaration of purpose.

day 1: welcome to the forest

Session One (morning 10.30-12.30):
Promises, Promises:
A good writer knows what they’re setting us up for.
The Tale of a Sentence:
The power of detail, the use of shape.
Discussion and questions

Session Two (afternoon 2-4):
Invisible Energy – Cutting for Strength:
Making a plain statement dynamic.
Diagnostic session:
Mistakes to avoid, and how to avoid them.
Discussion and questions

day 2: the Y of the tyger

Session One (morning 10.30-12.30):
Editors & Critics – what they’re like
and what they want
The view from the other side.
Dead Wood, Dead Paths:
Words not to use, ideas to avoid.
Oven-Glove Language:
Why it happens and ways to tackle it.
Discussion and questions

Session Two (afternoon 2-4):
Brainstorming and rewriting:
Attendees split into pairs (or small teams) to exchange commentary on their written statements and how to improve them.

Closing session: “The Y of the Tyger”
Concluding remarks

(This course was developed at the Crafts Council. Active for more than 15 years in the crafts sector, Mark Sinker is a writer with more than three decades of deep experience in the wider media world. At Crafts magazine he provided knowledgeable judgment about effectiveness of content and style, helping writers at all levels of ability to bring the best out of their work. He was a contributing editor for many years at the BFI’s film monthly Sight & Sound; as editor in the early 90s of the music monthly The Wire moved it from niche specialism to its current all-encompassing brief. He is as at home in the austere world of academic journals as he is the wild-west chaos of the internet.)

“I could have listened to Mark Sinker all day. I had a million questions to ask him but there wasn't enough time. His excellent session pointed out all the major pitfalls.”
Jane Dzisiewski, jeweller and Crafts Council Hothouse participant

“I would have liked to have a full day with Mark, who introduced vital work. He tackled really important and challenging issues. He was really accomplished and I felt he could really push me. Hopefully when I sit down to write about myself and my work I'll be able to have more fun with it, rather than just freezing.”
Sarah Warsop, design & dance, Crafts Council Hothouse participant

(UN)CREATIVE WRITING as an ESSENTIAL CRAFT, for artists, makers and busy professionals

Every sentence is a kind of a promise: good writers are aware of the promises they make, organising them to satisfy or to surprise, to tease or to disarm. A real writer always knows how to keep promises.

This two-day workshop teaches confidence in print to creative professionals who do not identify as writers, along with the skills to describe themselves and their work engagingly, straightforwardly and usefully.

Over the two days the course will focus on three distinct elements.

1: learning to trust one's intimate grasp of
the specifics of one's craft – to recognise
what you know that others don't.
2: thinking about how potential readers will
respond to what you've written –
and what others know that you can use.
3: exploring the structural details of ‘uncreative
writing’ as a craft – how to cut, shape and select
to get to the nub of why you love what you do.

It will include key tips on:
4: Telling the world about yourself and what you do.
5: How to sell yourself without selling out.
6: Describing what you do to busy officials
(tax forms, visa applications and so on).
7: A professional insider’s guide to the world
of practical writing and reading.
8: Diagnostic work on common errors and how
to avoid making them.

First impressions are everything for small businesses and start-up freelancers. Poor description of what you do (in media, performance, design and beyond) can alienate and baffle those outside your immediate discipline or sector, to disastrous effect. Over the two days, attendees will develop a document that describes their work in terms that will bridge this gulf effectively.

The course teaches students to discuss their work in terms that appeal to customers and businesses, and excite editors, press officers and journalists – terms that capture the heart of the work. Self-promotion and client acquisition are the bread and butter of creative workers – but in a world of hype and jargon and ever-more inflated and pretentious claims, precision and simple honesty are invaluable too, and essential to the long-term growth of the project. Taught by a writer-editor with decades of experience right across the creative industries, from experimental music magazine The Wire to the Crafts Council, this event will give attendees the skills and materials to ensure they have a business edge without subordinating the work’s value to sales pressure, as well as a comprehensive route to describing and explaining what they do for official and promotional purposes, allowing more time to focus on their work and less on the taxman’s.

Students are strongly encouraged to submit statements about their work in advance, and to bring along materials already developed or prepared. These will form the basis of individual and class diagnostic work and discussion. Attendees will be guided through the process of fashioning a statement that accords with their own sensibility and values, and passes the excitement of this onto others.

If what you do is who you are, it becomes easier to explain both.