How to Start Your Own Writing Workshop
Guest Post by Barbara Jolie
Writers can benefit tremendously from the feedback of other writers. Hundreds of MFA programs exist largely due to this fact. Participating in a writing workshop lets you get a reader’s perspective on your writing. Other members of a workshop can help you fill in the gaps of your story or clarify certain sections of your poem or essay. As an added benefit, being a part of a workshop allows you to spend time with likeminded people and connect on a different level than you’re able to connect with your family members and friends who aren’t writers.
If there aren’t any writing workshops in your area, you may be considering starting one yourself. Getting the word out about your workshop can be somewhat difficult, especially if you’ve never started any sort of group or association before. However, if you use the right resources and strategies, your workshop can be up and running in just a few weeks. Here are some of the things you can do to successfully establish a workshop for writers in your area:
Reach Out Online – Sites like Meetup.com and Craigslist are excellent resources for people who want to start professional associations and special interest groups. You can start a group for your workshop on Meetup.com, and people in your local area will be able to find your group by searching for certain terms like “writers” and “creative writing.” Additionally, you can post a free advertisement for your workshop on the “groups” section of craigslist.
Pass Out Flyers at Relevant Events – You can pass out fliers about your workshop at poetry readings and book signings. Additionally, professional writers’ conferences are a great place to network with other writers, pass out some fliers, and generate interest in your workshop.
Make Decisions Democratically – Once you have a good amount of people who are interested in joining your workshop, it’s best meet up with them and make decisions about how the workshop will be run. You’ll need to decide how often the group will meet and on which days. Additionally, you’ll need to pick a place to meet. If the group decides to meet in a public location such as a library conference room, you’ll need to make reservations for the public space on the appropriate days.
Set Some Ground Rules – Any time criticism is thrown into the mix, feelings can get hurt and situations can get awkward. Make sure you let all the workshop attendees know that criticism should stay constructive and that the workshop should be a safe place for writers to improve their craft. Each time you’re discussing a piece of writing, remind the group members to start the discussion by mentioning things they liked about the piece. Members of free, community writing workshops will have varying skill levels, and it’s your job as the facilitator of the workshop to make sure everyone feels comfortable and supported.
Consider the suggestions above as you establish your writing workshop. Once the group is established, you’ll be amazed by just how much you can learn from other writers. Writers sometimes have a tendency to approach their work in a solitary manner. However, breaking free of this type of solitary pattern can be just what you need to take your creative work to the next level.
Barbara Jolie is a full time freelance writer and blogger. She is passionate about lifelong learning and online education. When Barbara is not blogging about all things education, she enjoys spending time with her calico cat, Moses, and her pet parakeet. If you have questions email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.