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Pen to Print creative writing programme

Pen to Print. What's your story?The Pen to Print 2020/21 theme is Digital Storytelling

At Pen to Print we are passionate about helping people discover their stories through free competitions, events, classes and creative writing initiatives.

COVID-19 Coronavirus Statement

Pen to Print is monitoring the latest guidance and will update you as soon as possible should the advice change.

Currently we are not planning to hold any regular events and classes in venues, all our activity will continue online.

Please visit our Pen to Print website and our social media channels to discover digital content to read, watch and enjoy. We are busy creating more exciting things for you to get involved with as the weeks pass so keep checking in with us online.

We are always looking for more content so if you would like to contribute by writing or recording something please send it to our email address: pentoprint@lbbd.gov.uk

Online content and activities include:

  • films and podcasts
  • quizzes
  • how to guides

We are also looking for submissions for our Pen to Plate book.

You can also discover our Pen to Print competitions, all the entry requirements and details are on our website.

We have the digital Write On! Magazines that can be read online.

You can also enjoy our Write On! Extra online only content including:

  • Write On! features
  • Write On! showcase
  • Write On! interviews

You can also buy our local authors books online!

We are very grateful for your support. The team at Pen to Print wish you all well and we look forward to seeing you all again.



We believe everybody should have a chance to tell their story and aim to build a network of expertise and support for aspiring writers in Barking and Dagenham and sharing this with a wider national and international community.


Pen to Print provides a safe, collaborative environment that attracts and supports a network of diverse writers and genres. By learning to develop their authentic voices, aspiring writers are encouraged to reach communities with their stories reflecting not just their own journeys but also inspiring potential in others.


Our birthplace in libraries has taught us that the best results for a diverse and relevant service can be achieved by being the welcoming heart of a community, allowing all to learn, discover, create, and connect. Pen to Print has translated this ethos into a relevant library service for writers and readers which, irrespective of their background or circumstances works towards creating a shared storytelling experience accessible to different markets and communities.

We are committed to:

  • giving our network the skills to document, influence and make history through their writing
  • promoting the value of diverse voices to the widest possible audience
  • making our network innovative, measurable, creative and enjoyable
  • collaborating with educational, corporate and charity partners to create funded universal access to our services

For enquiries, contact the Pen to Print team.

For news on the Pen to Print classes, workshops and events sign up for the newsletter:

Pen to Print newsletter sign up

Find out more

Pen to Print website

The programme is funded by Arts Council England and has these elements:

The Book Challenge Competition - Write a novel in a year! Toggle accordion

The Book Challenge. What's your story?Pen to Print is looking for budding authors to work with them with the aim of getting their work published.

The Book Challenge is a programme of support provided by established authors working with participants to create a book-length piece of creative writing. The work can be in any fiction genre.

Support for writers will come in the form of a year of free mentoring support with a professional writer. This can be supplemented by attending our regular programme of monthly workshops and enhanced by master classes and author talks in a wide range of genres. Sessions will be open everyone.

Submissions will be evaluated and the best, as judged by creative writing experts, will be allocated a professional writer who will be their mentor for 12 months and will guide them through the process of getting their work written and ready for publication.

Workshops, master classes and author talks take place throughout the year and there will be scope to connect you to other opportunities for the duration of the whole project and everyone will continue to be able to benefit from them.


First prize is a tablet PC.

All finalists received free mentoring for a year and have the opportunity to get their completed book published.

How to enter

Visit Pen to Print - Competitions.

Entering the competition will entail sending us your first chapter and a synopsis of your book idea.

For enquiries, contact the Pen to Print team.

Poetry and Short Story Competition Toggle accordion

If you enjoy writing short stories or poetry this is for you! 

Poems can be of any length but must not exceed two A4 pages. Short stories must not be more than 2,000 words in length.

You can get support through our programme of free creative writing classes with the aim of developing your work so it is suitable for publication in magazines and other media.


First prize is a tablet PC.

How to enter

Visit Pen to Print - Competitions.

For enquiries, contact the Pen to Print team.

Michael Feld Creative Writing Competition for young people Toggle accordion

This is an annual competition for young people who are residents of the borough or pupils who attend a Barking and Dagenham primary school in Years 4 to 6, or a secondary school who are in Years 7 and 8.

The competition is held in memory of Michael Feld who owned a jeweller’s shop in Barking and did much to promote the prosperity of the town. He was a great supporter of libraries until his death in 2007 and was keen to encourage young people in all aspects of education.

Judging will be on presentation, concept, thought and originality.

You can enter no more than 1 entry from any of the following forms of writing and write no more than 550 words:

  • poetry
  • non-fiction
  • fiction

Categories and prizes

The categories for young people living or going to school in Barking and Dagenham

First prize for each category:

  • an Amazon Fire tablet
  • a £50 book token
  • £100 worth of books for your school
  • a chance to win the Michael Feld Memorial Salver for the best overall piece of writing by a young person from Barking and Dagenham.

With 2 runner-up prizes:

  • a £25 Book Token

Primary category for 7 to 11 year olds (Years 4 to 6 at primary school).

Secondary category for 11 to 14 year olds (Years 7 to 9 at secondary school).

New categories for 2020 for young people living and attending schools outside of Barking and Dagenham

First prize for each category:

  • an Amazon Fire tablet
  • a £50 book token
  • £100 worth of books for your school.

With 2 runner-up prizes:

  • a £25 book token

Primary category for 7 to 11 year olds (Years 4 to 6 at primary school).

Secondary category for 11 to 14 year olds (Years 7 to 9 at secondary school).

How to enter

Visit Pen to Print - Competitions.

For enquiries, contact the Pen to Print team.

Playwriting Competition Toggle accordion

Write a one-act play

Are you a budding playwright?

Your play should last approximately 10 minutes and feature between 2 and 4 characters.

Subject to COVID-19 social distancing rules, the shortlisted entries will be performed as part of an evening of script-in-hand performances at the Broadway Theatre. The winning play to be announced on the night.

The winner will receive a tablet PC.

How to enter

Visit Pen to Print - Competitions.

For enquiries, contact the Pen to Print team.

ReadFest - Our annual literary festival Toggle accordion

ReadFest. Barking and Dagenham's literary festival.ReadFest 2021 will be from Monday 6 September to Friday 24 September 2020.

ReadFest has been running in Barking and Dagenham libraries since 2011. ReadFest aims to deliver a wide-ranging selection of local, national and internationally acclaimed writers and speakers specially selected to entertain and inform.

Writers to feature at previous years of ReadFest include:

  • Ben Aaronovitch
  • Laura Barnett
  • Simon Brett
  • Kimberley Chambers
  • Martina Cole
  • Jane Corry
  • Miranda Kaufman
  • Christy Lefteri
  • Ayisha Malik
  • Dreda Say Mitchell
  • David Neita
  • Dr. Janina Ramirez
  • Simon Toyne
  • Catriona Ward
  • Sarah Ward

and many, many more.

We are always looking for artists, authors and speakers to take part if you are interested in getting involved speak to the Pen to Print team.

Details of the 2021 line up will be available on the Pen to Print website.

For enquiries, contact the Pen to Print team.

Pen to Print courses and workshops Toggle accordion

Pen to Print includes a series of free courses and workshops including:

  • creative writing for beginners
  • creative writing advanced
  • poetry for beginners
  • poetry advanced
  • playwriting for beginners
  • playwriting advanced
  • screenwriting
  • comic book writing

New courses and workshop opportunities are being added throughout the year.

Search and book free places online at Pen to Print events

For enquiries, contact the Pen to Print team.

Write On! Magazine – Real people, real writers Toggle accordion

Write On. Real people, real writers. By Pen to Print.Write On! is a free quarterly magazine aimed at story tellers everywhere. With a projected circulation of 30,000 readership which comes from 10,000 copies of the magazine being distributed directly thought libraries and other community spaces in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, along with Havering, Southend and Redbridge and many other venues.

Each Write On! issue features news and articles for the writing community by our own team of volunteer writers, it includes interviews with leading authors and people who can support writers. It showcases new writer’s poetry, stories and novels. You can also get advice and tips on writing and much more!

View the current and past issues of Write On!

Write On Extra. Real people, real writers. By Pen to Print.Write On! Extra’s additional online only content is posted regularly on our website.

Write On! and Write On! Extra reaches national and 120 international communities via the online publication on our Pen to Print website with the potential to reach many thousands more!

Write On! offers regular workshops encouraging everyone to join in and discover what it is like to create a publication for the magazine market. Gain valuable experience in writing short stories, poems, articles and conducting interviews with leading writers and industry professionals. Get insight into how to attract marketing and sponsorship. Become part of the volunteer team and get hands-on experience of helping to decide on content, structure and help edit each issue of Write On!, getting it ready for publication.

Check the Pen to Print events page to find out when the next workshop will be.

Pen to Plate – Your food stories Toggle accordion

Do you have a recipe with a unique story behind it?

Pen to Print are collecting recipes and stories to add to our new publication Pen to Plate.

Taste and smell are among our senses that can generate recollections from our past. We often associate special memories with treasured family recipes or meals, for example we eat our favourite meal and it takes us back to when we were a child, I for one can’t forget my Mum’s Sunday roast! We are looking for these special recipes and memories to share with each other in our latest publication.

It could be a memory of sharing a meal with your family or a meal you enjoy that reminds you of an important event or person in your life.

If you have a recipe and a story to go with it we would like to know. Share it with others and help create more special memories for the future.

We would like a list of ingredients along with the amounts you need of each ingredient and instructions on how to prepare your special dish. In no more than 2,000 words we would also like you to tell the story that makes the dish special for you .

We aim to collect all the recipes and stories together in a book to be published. If you are included, we will give you a copy. We will contact you to let you know when the book is going to be published. We will also make the book available in our local libraries.

In addition to the main competition elements, there will be a series of ongoing author events and workshops.

These events are open to all residents and are aimed at inspiring and encouraging aspiring writers, especially those from groups and communities that are under-represented in the publishing industry, as well as providing entertainment to the wider reading public.

Pen to Print and our annual literary festival ReadFest are supported by National Portfolio funding through Arts Council England with £180,000 per year until 2023.

Connect with the Pen to Print team

Email: pentoprint@lbbd.gov.uk
Pen to Print website