Several years ago, an acquaintance of mine invited me to attend a writing workshop. Although I was not particularly thrilled about the idea, I was flattered that she thought of me so I agreed to go. Despite my hesitations, the workshop-which took place near a coffee shop inside a bookstore-ended up being an interesting and informative event. In reflecting on my experience attending the event, I have concluded that participating in writing workshops is a good idea. Here are three reasons why.
Writing workshops are a good forum through which aspiring authors can learn about new opportunities. For example, one writer at a workshop may have recently received a book deal from an independent publisher looking to publish several other up-and-coming authors. If this writer chooses to share this information at the workshop, all attendees become aware of a new venue through which they could possibly get published.
2. Constructive Criticism.
Oftentimes, people who attend writing workshops read their work aloud and allow others to critique it. When this happens, writers can gain a greater awareness of their weaknesses. These weaknesses could pertain to anything from poorly structured sentences to characters who seem hastily flung together. When I attended the writing workshop I mentioned in the introduction, I listened to a man read a portion of a work in progress. Almost immediately, I picked up on the story’s shortcoming: the dialogue between the husband and wife was generic and his continual reference to her as “honey” was dull and repetitive. When you attend writing workshops and other people point out flaws or offer advice regarding how to improve your work, your opportunity to improve increases exponentially.
Clearly, it is never acceptable to steal an idea from another writer and then claim it as your own. However, writing workshops present writers with an opportunity to use concepts expressed by others as a point of departure for constructing their own ideas. For example, when I attended a writing workshop, there was a young woman there who read a portion of her story for us. The narrative included references to supernatural creatures who had bodily appendages-such as hands-that could move and extend themselves in interesting ways. This was all very intriguing and could easily be the springboard for new ideas, like a war between the supernatural creatures resulting from internal dissent about how to interact with humans.
As made evident by the benefits of attending a workshop listed above, doing so can be very advantageous for aspiring writers. Good luck!
Jocelyn Crawley holds B.A. degrees in English and Religious Studies. Her work has appeared in Jerry Jazz Musician, Nailpolish Stories, Visceral Uterus, Dead Beats, Four and Twenty, and Haggard and Halloo. Other stories are forthcoming in Faces of Feminism, The Idiom, Thrice Fiction and Calliope.
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Writing Tips: Breaking Past Writer’s Block
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Writing Tips: The Short Sentence