Longform Workshop

(3 months)

You are wanting to begin a book-length manuscript and need that big initial push, or you’re already in the midst of wrestling with it and would like some objective eyes to help you step back and get a bit of clarity and insight. If you desire constructive discussion of your work from a bestselling author and a small group of similarly focused (perhaps obsessed might be a better word) peers, as well as a chance to offer your own, this is your workshop. A seasoned veteran with keen insight into publishing, Joseph also offers valuable knowledge of that world. We’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk about the publishing process: how to know when you’re ready to share your novel or collection, how to find the right literary agent as well as approach that agent with your manuscript, and lots of other sage advice to better your chances of getting your work out into the world.  The Longform Workshop introduces you to other writers focused on the same goals. Why not create new working friendships that will carry on beyond the workshop?


What it includes:

  • Includes three submissions (maximum of 15 pages) with global comments from Joseph.
  • We gather for a three-hour workshop every other week for three months.
  • You’ll have two intensive one-on-ones with Joseph over the course of the workshop. 
  • During the workshop, Joseph offers numerous short talks regarding the finer points of craft and handouts summarizing them.
  • The central focus of these three months is the opportunity for you to share three submissions with the rest of us. Your work will be constructively workshopped “live” by Joseph and your peers according to the “Iowa Workshop” style, the most tried-and-true learning model in the development of a writer. Take your craft to the next level by listening as others discuss your work thoroughly and insightfully. In turn, you’ll absorb valuable knowledge by getting the chance to read and discuss the work of your peers.
  • As well as having your submissions workshopped, you read and discuss the fiction of your peers.
  • Over the course of the workshop, Joseph will create an individual reading list of modern and contemporary writers specifically developed for you and your project.


Working with Joseph Boyden through the Novel Workshop and one-on-one has been revelatory, both for me as a writer and for my novel-in-progress. Joseph’s thoughtful probing and generous artistry have helped me carve a clear path through my draft. Sustained connection with excellent peers in the workshop has been energizing. Thank you, Joseph.

Beverly Boutilier


New to writing, and intimidated by the magnitude of my story, I was hesitant to join a workshop. Focusing on one piece at a time and sharing my work with peers helped me to write piece by piece. I left my first workshop with an established structure and a process. Joseph’s encouragement and guidance help writers continually move forward in their projects. His insight and objectivity are constructive and motivating. The workshops have helped me grow as a writer.

Kristyn Drever, Sweetwater alumni

Sharing your story with others can be scary. Sharing your story and asking for feedback from a world-renowned author such as Joseph Boyden should be frightening. But it isn’t. Joseph creates a nurturing environment and you feel comfortable sharing your stories with other writers. Joseph’s style makes you want to reach deeper into your toolbox to develop better work. I have learned something from everyone in the workshop. I started this workshop hoping to be able to tell a better story. I am finishing the workshop with the confidence that I can write a book. And that is something I never imagined possible before I met Joseph.

Chuck Garneau, Sweetwater alumni

I have been writing for some time, have participated in a number of workshops, and worked with multiple mentor authors. Working with Joseph on my novel has reinvigorated my writing and I believe has taken it to a new level. Not only have we dealt with the usual aspects of craft but Joseph has given me insights into how to effectively address the larger issues of structure and narrative development so necessary for a successful novel. HIs review and critique of my work, so necessary to its improvement, has been frank, honest and productive.

John Geddes, Sweetwater alumni

After decades of Professorship and a highly acclaimed writing career, Joseph Boyden has a profound mine of writing experience to share. What I think is most notable about him is his overwhelming generosity in drawing from those resources to assist you, start to finish. From the moment you present your first work to your last hours with him, his enthusiasm for and support of your efforts will guide and direct you to a satisfying writing experience. He took me on as a fledgling and dyslexic newbie just learning to write and has brought me to a following, publishing my stories on Medium.com. Whatever level you’re at, wherever you’re comfortable, whatever aspirations you have, I endorse and highly recommend his one-on-one mentoring and any of his workshops.

Bon voyage
Patricia Young, Sweetwater alumni

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Where to find us

Sweet Water Writers Workshop
Durham/West Grey, Ontario

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