WHY Writing Workshops?

WHY Attend Writing Workshops? 
This blog post is part promotional part educational.

How it came about.

I may have mentioned this before and I’m not too shy to mention it again. I co-ordinate a local writer’s group in Albury-Wodonga (where I live) called Write Friends. We meet once a month to read aloud and critique each others’ work, present and promote writing, discuss improving our writing and presentation skills along with writing exercises and the occasional guest authors/speakers attends.
We also enjoy socializing in our writerly ways.

We have a membership with the Victorian Writers Group and from our name being listed on their website we were contacted by Anne Gracie, a Harlequin Books and Berkley Books published author (with many awards under her belt) to spread the word about an upcoming writing workshop(s).

Anne Gracie will be one of the participating speakers at Trinity College, Melbourne University along with Kate Forsyth and Shane Maloney. Diary jot a weekend of fiction writing workshops from 15th-17th June, 2012. Keep the date available and book early.

How exciting!

I’d love to go but I have way too many commitments (unless I wangle my way out of something) so I’ve got to get the word out so others don’t miss out.

I thought what better way than in a blog post?

The presenters are bestselling and award winning novelists, Kate Forsyth (fantasy, children's, YA and historical) Shane Maloney (crime) and Anne Gracie (historical romance.) The program is run in association with Bryony Cosgrove (Head of the Publishing and Communications Program at Melbourne University).  Ali Watts, senior editor at Penguin Books Australia will attend on the Sunday. (I stole that from their website ~ you will find it by clicking here).

It all starts Friday evening with a meet and greet session and a workshop to get you writing. Saturday and Sunday are intensive workshops covering some key areas in writing popular fiction, and there is a dinner on Saturday night. Yum.

If you missed all that go here for details: http://winterwritingworkshops.weebly.com/ Well, that’s the promotional bit done.

NOW, let’s have a closer look at writing workshops.

Have you ever attended a workshop?

Do you get much out of them?

Do you know what the purpose of a workshop is? (Apart from the obvious:  promotion, selling, marketing, ego-rubbing and/or flogging-off products, especially flogging products, etc).


Not all workshops are like that but to figure out what a workshop is really offering takes work.

To get the most out of attending a workshop you need to have a plan.

What’s that old saying? Something about if you fail to plan you plan to fail?

If you don’t have a plan you will achieve very little and gain even less out of attending a workshop. Workshops can be expensive and you need to decide before you sign up what you hope to gain from the workshop and whether this workshop is the one for you.

Will it fill your needs as a writer?

You need to read up before attending the workshops to find out what will be covered.

DO (that is, complete) any of the suggested readings (homework) before you attend.

You need to look at what the authors are presenting and what they have written. It’s good to have an idea of what to expect so you can attend with a clear set of goals to achieve the most out of your experience at the workshop.

I love conferences and workshops. I love learning. (If you haven’t figured that out already you haven’t been paying attention Tsk! Tsk!)

I also like food, drink and chats, especially food.

But do I get all that I should from these conferences and workshops? No, I’m not talking about the food now, (although?) ...

 And, do you? Get all you should.

It‘s not really enough to go for the food, the drink and gaze admiringly at the speakers hanging on the edge of your seat expecting any moment they’ll say something so earth-shatteringly incredible that it’ll change your writing world. It’s much more than that. It’s about the effort of being the writer you want to be.

In order to gain as much as you can from these workshops and not only come home with autographed collections of books you paid a handsome prince and four maidens for and may never find the time to read. 

You must do your homework on the presenters and also DO what they suggest. For the workshops at Trinity you need to read from the works of the authors presenting (*cheeky grin* there's that 'buy my book' angle I was suggesting earlier *snickers*). No. Seriously.
IF you want to gain from the workshops you do need to understand how these writers write and what you want to learn from them.

Remember to ask yourself these questions.

Would I want to write like this presenter/author does?

Do I admire his/her work?

Write up your specific questions before you get to the workshop.

This is not about ego. It’s about learning. People will know immediately if you’re simply smart-arsing your way with fake questions appearing like a know-it-all with a pre-orchestrated performance to impress.

It’s not a rub-your-own-ego event, although I’m sure you’ll see some of this as inevitably these events attract people like this as well as those genuinely wanting to learn. So, prepare your questions with intelligence and sensitivity to ask what you need to know as the writer you want to become. These workshops are for your benefit not only the presenters and organizers.

You must decide what it is you want to learn from attending the workshop.

And don’t be afraid to ask questions because chances are other attendees have similar questions but are too afraid to ask.

Planning is paramount for making the most of your experience.


Use a checklist.

Write out your goals for the workshop.

Choose the workshop you want to attend before making the booking and pose your questions around that presenter. Notice that the Trinity workshops give you the choice to attend one or all events.

Know the presenters and find them on-line, learning as much about them as possible.

If the workshop is expensive make sure you contact other people who have attended this, or similar workshops previously to make sure this is the right workshop for you.

Make a list of who you want to meet.

Contact them beforehand if possible and arrange to meet at the workshop.

Remember your brain ~ stay hydrated and eat before attending (avoid sugary foods and preferably eat low Gi foods) so your brain will function as it was intended.

Wear comfortable clothing and especially good fitting shoes. Sorry no Fashionistas here!

Take useful notes. 

Take it from me, it's easy to write useless notes. I've become an expert at this over the years. Many a time I've scrawled copious notes only to find later my writing made no sense at all and yet at the time seemed perfect. 

TIP!  Make sure what you write at the workshop will make sense when you read it later.

When returning from workshops rewrite your notes and jot down anything you learned or anything else you had been hoping to learn. If you are attending a second day make sure you get those unanswered questions dealt with.

Collect business cards from writers and presenters and keep in contact with people you found you had a connection with on the day.

Go through all of this a week later and work on staying connected after the workshop.


I guess.


photo credit: {ErinKphoto} aka redcargurl via photo pin cc

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