The University of Toronto’s Summer Writing School runs — or sprints, to be more exact — which runs from July 6-10 at U of T’s St. George Campus, just in time for budding writers to find inspiration in the heady days of summer.

In its fifth year, the weeklong whirlwind features daily round-table discussions, readings and workshops on student-submitted works with instructors who know how to succeed in writing because they have lived it themselves.

Acclaimed novelist Joy Fielding will teach a section on writing bestselling novels and the roster of instructors includes many other literary heavyweights such as City of Toronto Book Award winner Helen Humphreys and Ken Babstock, nominated in 2006 for the Governor General’s Award for poetry. The emphasis on successful, well-regarded writers on the instructional roster is deliberate for more than name recognition alone as the goal is to let students learn directly from people with experience.

“We’re trying to expose students to writers and instructors who are experienced in the field, published in the field and great teachers on their own,” said Lee Gowan, program head of the creative writing program at the School of Continuing Studies at U of T.

Giller Prize nominee Alissa York will return this year to teach the short story workshop and says one of the best parts about the intensive program is that it brings talented, like-minded people together for mutual benefit.

“It’s a really wonderful student body that comes — they’re very serious about writing and really excited about it. It’s good to be amongst people who care about the same things you do,” York said.

New sections on the graphic novel and songwriting will join popular favourites fantasy and science fiction writing and screenwriting return full-force.

For students like Diane Terrana, 48, the course is a chance to finally follow up on a long-held writing dream. Terrana has two English degrees and has lived a creative life that includes stints as a dancer and English teacher but never really took the plunge with creative writing, until now.

“I finally decided I wasn’t going to go into my attic and produce a novel. I realize I need to be around other writers and having a place you can learn with people in the same situation as you, it’s illuminating,” Terrana said.

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