Writer's Workshops

I've been holding intense writer's workshops for 15 years. I school private individuals, but I'm usually engaged by government departments and corporates to improve the written communication skills of key (sometimes senior) personel.

My approach is to take a writer's existing work and analyse it for problems of approach, strucure and execution. I then critique the work with the writer, coaching them to see where they're going wrong. I develop strategies to help address issues, and ultimately tailor personal frameworks that the writer can use in his or her workplace.  

Like I say -- intense.


Two things you should know: (1) ‘good writing’ is a series of relatively straightforward tricks and techniques; (2) poor writers can be substantially improved in a very short space of time...


The problem

Writing was once considered a trade. Just as plumbers, boat-builders or cabinet-makers learned their craft by serving a long apprenticeship, so writers served under experienced sub-editors, editors or copywriters.

Today, however, most writers in the workplace have acquired a range of media skills at university but remain poorly schooled in the art of writing. Many are left to develop skills while receiving ad hoc coaching – usually from colleagues who are similarly inexperienced in the craft.

Writers who are producing poor work usually know they’re falling short.

Drafting even the simplest communications leaves them feeling insecure and frustrated; significant documents such as features, brochures, proposals and reports can render some people anxious to the point of losing sleep.

Of course, the frustration doesn’t end with the writer. Employers faced with poorly written material must either re-draft (an equally daunting exercise) or out-source to professionals. In worst cases, sub-standard material goes out to the reader, customer or client.

And by this stage, no-one is looking good…

The solution

Poor writers are usually making the same mistakes.

Within the first few hours of a day-long Writer’s Workshop, Max Anderson can coach a writer so he or she can identify those mistakes, rectify them and avoid making them again.

After this, it’s about showing them simple techniques to render their work effective and compelling.

Depending on a writer’s goals, professional writer Max Anderson will address a range of issues, core competencies and essences of proper communication. Components of a Workshop might include:

□       ‘Your readers’: who are they, what are we trying to give them and how can we make them read to the end?

□       Preparation: working smarter at the material or interview stage can pay huge rewards

□       Learning to see, learning to ask: one for feature writers, this exercise helps writers put some zing into their stories

□       Planning: basic frameworks can take some of the pain out of writing

□       Angles and introductions: difficult, but not insurmountable…

□       Style: let’s wave, not drown

□       Good habits: learning to read and review

The session

The Writer’s Workshop is a day-long tutorial, running from 9am to 4pm with an hour for lunch. It’s informal and relaxed, taking place at Anderson’s home in the Adelaide Hills. (The writer may extend the session to 5pm if he or she chooses.)

For a writer’s maximum benefit, the session is ideally one-on-one, but Anderson will coach up to three writers in a single day (see costs).

The Workshop comprises:



  1. Phone liaison with section head or employer to determine a writer’s key strengths and weaknesses and desired outcomes.
  1. Phone liaison with the writer to determine his/her perceived strengths and weaknesses.
  1. Submission of recent pieces of work by the writer, sent a week prior to the session.
  1. A day-long session (lunch included).
  1. A written de-brief to employer.
  • From 1998-2001, he was the Deputy Travel Editor of The Sunday Times newspaper (UK). During his tenure he was voted UK Travel Journalist of the Year and won the Travelex Award for Best Broadsheet Feature.
  • He currently works in Adelaide as a freelance feature writer. His work regularly appears in the The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Gourmet Traveller, Qantas Spirit magazine and National Geographic Traveller (UK). His work has appeared in the The AustralianGQ AustraliaThe Financial Times (UK), The Times (UK), Evening Standard (UK), The Independent (UK), South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), BA’s Highlife Magazine (UK) and BMW magazine (UK).
  • He has won three SA Media Awards for Best Freelance Contribution, five North American Travel Journalists Awards and a 2017 Canadian Award of Excellence.
  • He is a freelance copywriter for a range of clients – government, corporate and small business. He is regularly commissioned by the South Australian government to produce material for the South Australia Tourism Commission, Education Adelaide and DTED.
  • As a copywriter for Microsoft he won a Direct Mail marketing award in 1995.
  • He is the author of Digger, published in 2004 by Picador UK. The story of his six months as a gold prospector in the West Australian deserts, the book has been translated into French, German and Portuguese by Reader’s Digest.
  • He is a part-time lecturer of journalism and creative writing at the University of South Australia and University of Adelaide.



The session is flexible, tailored to suit the writer’s field of work (PR/marketing communications, feature writing or copywriting) and to address specific problem areas.

The session is very free-flowing with interactive exercises throughout. Writers will be expected to take their own notes during sessions.

Follow-up sessions

Max Anderson is happy to provide follow-up sessions with writers.

This would ideally entail a writer submitting his or her most recent work for his attention.

He will critique the work and collaborate with the writer, highlighting where improvements have been made and reinforcing good practice; areas where improvement is still needed will also be addressed, with some illustrative editing provided by Anderson.

Follow-ups will ordinarily happen by phone and email.

A qualifier!

The sessions are informal and very friendly, however they can be fairly intense. Part of the process involves deconstructing a writer’s work and identifying mistakes – some writers may find it easier to take than others!

Max Anderson

A professional writer since 1992, Anderson has worked in London, Sydney and Adelaide.