Writing in Paris: Inspiration and Invitation

Writing in Paris: Inspiration and Invitation

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect. ― Anaïs Nin 

As you wander Paris, in person or from a distance, you can’t help but feel the presence of writers. They are everywhere — in the haunts of history and in the cafés, libraries, and bookstores of the present. 

Shakespeare and Company— a meeting place for writers past and present and literature lovers for the ages. © Meredith Mullins.

The spirits of Hemingway, Baldwin, Gertrude Stein, Simone de Beauvoir, James Joyce, Proust, Henry Miller, Colette, Victor Hugo, Zola, Oscar Wilde, Anaïs Nin (and many more) live on. 

These articulate ghosts whisper writing advice and offer inspiration from the places they frequented and from their powerful words as painters of life, especially Paris life.

Today, established and emerging writers find motivation and support in Paris. The city invites and inspires writers in all stages of their writing life. 

All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time. — Hemingway.

For those who want to write in Paris, there are many paths. Writing groups and retreats are commonplace. One of the best week-long literary adventures is the Paris Writers Workshop (PWW). 

Caption: The benefit of learning in writing groups and workshops. © Meredith Mullins.

The Paris Writers Workshop (PWW) 2024 

Now in its 28th year, PWW has recently opened its early-bird registration for the summer program (June 2–7, 2024). 

As the longest running successful writing workshop in Paris, PWW holds a legendary place. And, since it is sponsored by the nonprofit education organization WICE (Where Internationals Connect in English) and the Columbia Global Centers, the price is kept low to allow for wide participation. 


Reid Hall in the Montparnasse neighborhood of Paris. ©Columbia Global Centers,

This year, the workshop will be held in the heart of literary Paris at Reid Hall in the Montparnasse neighborhood. The week offers daily masterclasses with six award-winning writers in Novel/Fiction, Creative Nonfiction/Memoir, Screenwriting, Short Fiction, Poetry, and Travel Writing. 

The faculty of Paris Writers Workshop 2024. Illustration courtesy of WICE.

In addition to the small-group masterclasses, the program includes individual meetings with the instructors and literary agents; practical guidance for work in progress; panel discussions focused on tools of writing, paths to publishing, and social media; a literary walk; social gatherings; and the camaraderie of a literary community. 

Caption: Lan Samantha Chang, Director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop will lead the PWW 2024 masterclass in Novel/Fiction. © Meredith Mullins.

Snippets of Writing Advice 

To encourage writers of all levels, the 2024 PWW faculty offers to Bonjour Paris readers some snippets of writing advice.

From Don George, leader of the PWW 2024 masterclass in Travel Writing and author of Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing and The Way of Wanderlust:

One great way to improve your writing is to use small worlds to illuminate larger worlds: Find and focus on the telling detail, evoking it in such a powerful and poignant way that it represents a much larger message. If you want to describe the power of art in Paris, for example, don’t write about the entire Musée d’Orsay, write about the one painting in the Musée d’Orsay that has become a part of you and changed your life.

From Kevin Brockmeier, leader of the PWW 2024 masterclass in Short Fiction/Speculative Fiction, author of The Illumination and The Brief History of the Dead, and frequent teacher at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop: Treat every sentence as an occasion for close attention. Every story you write, no matter how odd, transgressive, or fantastic, should be an excuse to consider something that’s truly intimate to you and to give it away.

Heather Hartley, faculty for the PWW 2024 masterclass in Poetry and author of the poetry collections Adult Swim and Knock Knock, shares the following:

The best advice for a new writer is to turn and return to the page, to have a daily writing practice and stay with it. That way, there is a structure in place for your ideas and thoughts, your long lines and brief ideas – a place and space for your stories to be explored further.

Jennifer Lauck, faculty for the PWW 2024 masterclass in Creative Nonfiction/Memoir and New York Times and London Times Bestselling author of Blackbird and Still Waters, offers:

An excellent way to improve your writing immediately is to highlight the “telling” in your story. Next, study the highlighted exposition and ask yourself how to work it into a scene in the form of description or dialogue.

Caption: “Tell” your story through description and dialogue. © Meredith Mullins

And Finally . . . Have No Fear 

Says Diane Lake, the Paris Writers Workshop screenwriting faculty member for 2024, noted for the screenplay of the Oscar-winning film Frida, as well as her book The Screenwriter’s Path: From Idea to Script to Sale:

The worst enemy to creativity is fear. It can be scary to take that first step and try to become that writer you want to be, but don’t let that stop you from trying. Take that first step – it will lead to another and another – and soon you’ll be writing… and kicking yourself for not having started sooner!

Don’t wait too long to register. The small masterclasses are filling quickly, and the discounted price of 975 euros ends March 15. More information about what is included can be found here.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. ― Anaïs Nin 

Join the fun and expand your horizons in this week-long creative adventure in the inspiring City of Light.

The Fiction/Short Story masterclass from a past PWW. © Meredith Mullins

Lead photo credit : © Meredith Mullins

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Meredith Mullins is an internationally exhibited fine art photographer and instructor based in Paris. Her work is held in private and museum collections in Europe and the U.S. and can be seen at www.meredithmullins.artspan.com or in her award-winning book "In A Paris Moment." (If you’re in Paris, a few rare, signed copies are available at Shakespeare and Company and Red Wheelbarrow.) She is a writer for OIC Moments and other travel and education publications.