52 weeks, 250 words per week

Start small | think big.

Online courses for adults and youth, including two classes in 2023:

  • Level 1: Introduction to writing small – for adults and students
  • Level 2: Novella-in-flash or a collection of prose and/or poetry
  • Short Courses (8 weeks) in Memoir, Humour, Historical Fiction and Writing 101

With weekly assignments, editing feedback, self-editing assessments, online sharing sessions, special guests, recommended reading and more. Sign up quarterly or for the whole year. 

This programme of writing evolves from the original 52|250 A Year of Flash that Michelle Elvy founded with John Wentworth Chapin in 2010.

Level 1: Introduction to writing small: A course for all levels, with material developed for adults and students. In Level 1, you will learn to take a chance with your writing and pay attention to the details and the smallest of moments. You will engage with external prompts and lively discussions. You will start small and practice the fine art of brevity – which can be applied to all forms of communication. Whether you are a writer trying to hone your short stories or poetry, or a curious individual new to writing and looking for the beginning point, or youth or student writers wanting to develop your skills, 52|250 will challenge you to explore new directions. From the nuts and bolts of structure to more complex ideas around suspense, movement and voice, the weekly lessons will help you find new means of expression in your writing.

Level 2: Novella-in-flash or a collection of prose and/or poetry: For people who want to write a small set of fictions or poetry in a new space to explore how they fit together, either as a longer story (the art of fragmented storytelling) or as a collection of individual pieces that have something to say in their own distinct way. Both the novella-in-flash and a poetry / story collection will contain inherently linking ideas and styles, but will also push against expectations (your own, and your reader’s). In this course, we’ll explore both content and form to see how you might develop your writing further. We’ll examine the way themes may be both overt and underlying; we’ll look at the connections between pages and the moments of necessary space; we’ll pay attention to continuity and flow (or interruption of flow). We’ll introduce flexibility around notions of beginning, middle and end (and why that matters). In this year of writing (or in a quarter, or two), you’ll explore the natural threads you develop in your writing; you’ll come to new challenges through the practice of weekly focus; and you’ll discover your own ideas about how your collection begins and ends. With this course, there is a slightly altered schedule that allows for revisions, edits and the work that goes into linking pieces together. 


Why weekly?

Because the path to better writing is regular practice.

-John Wentworth Chapin

The 52|250 challenge is in the commitment to writing every week – 250 words every week. It’s a slow build. Like any skill, writing can be nurtured and developed with intense focus over time. This course will help demystify and encourage the act of writing, with any form you decide to take on.

Poets who want to explore narrative storytelling; storytellers who aim to adopt more poetic language; writers who seek a path through blocked creativity – all are welcome!

With tools and skills from the original 52|250 year of writing this programme is offered as a year-long course, made up of weekly lessons with flexibility built in to cater to individual needs and goals. The central philosophy is start small | think big – building your writing each week, whether in distinct small stories and poems, or scenes that work together towards a greater whole.

Each week, students will write 250 words based on a new assignment or hone and edit previous work. Each week, the focus will be around coaxing the very best out of your 250 words.

Why 250?

250 words: enough to get your creativity flowing, but not overwhelming.

250 words: makes you pay attention to language, structure and story, blending poetry and prose – expressive, experimental and elegant.

250 words: a small moment, or a whole world.

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