Monday, November 15, 2010

Rules of Thumb for Attending Writing Workshops

I've attended them—plenty of them. Amateur, school-funded, etc. No matter what type of workshop you go to or how much you dug out of your pocket to attend it, there are always certain similarities among them. Thus, there are some things you should consider when attending any writing workshop. Hopefully one of these similarities is that you'll always learn something (admittedly, there have been workshops I've attended where I've felt like I got nothing). Of course, ever since I turned to article and technical-writing I've felt less of a need to attend them. Nonetheless, there are some things you could consider while attending which will benefit you, either way, which I've listed simply for your convenience.

  1. Don't say “Well, this was rushed” or “Well, I could've done better.” It's really not the audience's fault you didn't have the time to put into it. I've heard this way too many times at school workshops and it makes a lot of people roll their eyes. Just be confident.
  2. Listen. It's great to get input and feedback. It's natural to feel jittery and insecure up until it's time for you to hand out your manuscript. But many other people are feeling exactly the same way, and you owe it to them to give them your full attention.
  3. Don't get defensive. Some people just don't know what they're saying. Some will say things that hurt your ego but are true. Having said that, take everything with a grain of salt.
  4. Keep in mind that not everyone at a workshop is a writing scholar, and many will give feedback that reflects their own tastes. If only one person comments on your paragraph structure (out of a workshop of one-hundred) than it might be better to consider it briefly. However, if everyone comments on it, then there's a chance something really is amiss. Give it some serious thought.
  5. Take notes. Even if it stings at first, you'll be glad you did later on. Not everyone says all of their commentary aloud, and it's nice to have it on paper for you to look at later.
  6. When it's over, take a deep breath. Maybe have a glass of wine or an oxycodone (joking about the latter). Don't look at the comments right away. Give yourself time to unwind and detach before you start reading them. Some will flatter you, sure, but others will wound your ego.

Do you need to attend writing workshops to become a better writer? No. Will you benefit by attending them? Possibly. As long as you're willing to invest the time (and perhaps, money) there's really nothing to lose. But make sure you're approaching it the right away, or you aren't going to get your time (or cash's) worth.

No comments:

Post a Comment