Dare to Write? Atlas

Joanna Nissel

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Today, creative writing incubator Paper Nations launches the Dare to Write? Atlas, the latest portal on their creative writing platform, Dare to Write?. The Atlas is designed to help writers to connect to their writing community in the UK by enabling them to discover the brilliant editors, publishers, writers, bookshops, festivals, organisations, and events (and more) near them. It’s essentially a free writing directory.

My name is Joanna Nissel and I am one of the researchers at Paper Nations who helped build the Dare to Write? Atlas. I want to tell you a little bit more about Dare to Write?, its history, and what we hope to achieve through the Atlas. Yes, it’s time for me to tell a story. Paper Nations is a creative writing incubator, after all.

Dare to Write? began as a children’s workshop, created by Paper Nations in collaboration with Book Kernel (an imprint of StoryHive). We ran these zine-making workshops all over the South-West of the UK, in schools, libraries, festivals, and community events. What made the workshops so special was the focus on having fun –playfully exploring words– and putting the children firmly in control. They told the stories they wanted to tell, in whichever way suited them best. We distilled this technique down into eight prompts, which are now available on the Dare to Write? Library portal.

As we created the prompts, we identified that many writers –and not just young writers– needed to connect with the outside world in order to flourish. The way in which they did this varied dramatically, according to each writer. Some needed a sense of community and spoke with that community regularly. Some simply wanted to know that they weren’t alone. And some needed the workshops, courses, and resources provided by organisations, bookshops, libraries, and more. The problem was, although there were many, many fantastic opportunities and people around, it was hard to hear about them. And many people didn’t know where to go to find help in the first place.

That’s where the concept of the Atlas came in. We wanted to make it easier for people to find out about what’s happening in the writing world near them. Simple.

So that’s what we’ve done. Over the last two years, we ran national-scale mapping campaigns –alongside our own research– to gather data about the writing world. A huge thank you to everyone who supported these campaigns! Now that data is live on the Dare to Write? Atlas in the form of interactive maps and events calendars.

Personally, I hope the Atlas becomes a ‘go-to’ for writers looking to find out what’s near them. I think it’s a very important resource that allows writers to discover what kind of support is out there, but also to figure out what kind of support they’re looking for.

I’m also really excited to see organisations and individuals discover each other through our maps and calendars. So many relationships could be built and go on to create new communities of writing. 

You can access the Atlas on www.daretowrite.org/atlas. If you want your writing event, organisation, venue, group, course, or anything else writing-related on the portal, just email writers@papernations.org.

Joanna Nissel is a poet and nonfiction writer based near Brighton. She is a graduate of the Bath Spa University BA & MA programmes and was recently shortlisted for the international New Poets’ Prize. At Paper Nations, Joanna’s work feeds into many areas of the programme, with a particular focus on digital assets, design, and communications.  Paper Nations is a creative writing incubator. We commission writers throughout the South West of England to create new work, we nurture local communities of support for writers, and we create multi-channel partnerships to showcase new writing internationally.

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