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Lydia Syson

Helping students find pleasure in the writing process is a priority for Lydia; whether online or face-to-face, her workshops are hands-on and fun.

Image credit: Gianluca De Girolamo, Adshot
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Additional expertise:
  • creative writing
  • life writing
  • mentoring
  • writing for radio

Courses offered by Lydia Syson include:

  • Self-editing, step by step (Master’s, PhD students, postdocs)
  • Developing your voice (Master’s and PhD students)
  • One-to-one writing clinics and writing groups (Master’s, PhD students, postdocs and academic staff)
  • Making an impact: first steps in public engagement (PhD students, postdocs and academic staff)
  • From PhD to publication: pitching to the trade (Postdocs and staff)

Throughout her working life, Lydia Syson has worked with words to communicate complex ideas.  After an early career as a BBC World Service radio producer, she wrote a doctoral thesis on Timbuktu (Birkbeck, University of London, 2003) and a scholarly biography of a notorious eighteenth-century fertility guru, Dr James Graham (Doctor of Love, 2008). Four critically acclaimed historical novels, three for young adults, have further honed Lydia’s research, story-telling and public speaking skills. She is also a successful ghostwriter.

Lydia’s previous work includes media training for various public sector organisations, copywriting, freelance journalism and reviewing, and she has been a visiting lecturer at City University.  She regularly delivers creative writing workshops for schools and mentors emerging writers in various contexts; working with student bloggers on a 2018 scientific expedition to the Kermadec Islands was a highlight.  In 2019, with RLF support, Lydia designed and led an experimental writing project with a food poverty organisation.

In her role as RLF Writing Fellow at The Courtauld Institute of Art (2015-2018), Lydia gained considerable insight into how strategies used by professional writers can benefit students and academics. Her lively workshops incorporate solo, pair and group work, and offer participants rich opportunities for creative reflection.

Discipline areas: Arts, Business & Management, Humanities, Social Sciences, Science, Engineering & Related
Topics: Essays, dissertations, theses, literature reviews, reflective commentaries, online communication, journal articles, books, communicating with non-specialists, preparing for conferences
Participants: School/college students, undergraduates, postgraduates (research), postgraduates (taught), staff (academic), international students
Activities: Workshops, retreats, seminars, tutorials
Consultant's background: Non-fiction, biographer, children’s fiction, young adult fiction, copywriter, novelist, radio or TV writer
Location: London and South East England
Availability for travel: International
Testimonials for Lydia Syson

‘The workshop was both fun and incredibly useful. . . one of the best structured and most useful workshops/trainings that I have ever attended. . .

-- Doctoral student in the arts

The super informative discussion on the “editing” process really inspired me to re-imagine and re-configure the writing practice.

-- Doctoral student in the arts

In just one session, Lydia was able to identify my main issues with academic writing and suggested really useful tools.

-- Doctoral student

The format chosen was very entertaining and gave us useful guidelines in relation to the editing practice. . . completely satisfying.

-- Doctoral student in the arts

The most useful formal training I’ve done while doing my PhD. . . Lydia is a lovely and warm facilitator with an immense amount of knowledge. Above all, she’s helped to demystify the writing process for me. . .

-- Doctoral student
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