You’re a passionate writer and want to progress your creative writing career. But you’re not sure if you’re any good. And you want to know: are there any writing workshops near me?
Perhaps you’ve shared your work with a friend or colleague and got good feedback. Or maybe you haven’t dared reveal your creative writing to another human being.
Sure, your cat will listen, but what does “meow” really mean?
This article is about how to find writing workshops near me (and you). I’ll explain what to expect in a typical writing workshop and help you find a workshop that suits your learning style.
Are writers’ workshops worth it?
First and foremost, are writers’ workshops actually worth pursuing?
It depends on what you want from the workshop. Local writing workshops can be invaluable if you’re looking for a safe space to share your writing with other like-minded writers working in the same (or similar genres).
Writers’ workshops can help with:
- Short story writing
- Personal essays
- Poetic forms
- Science fiction writing
- Short fiction
- Non-fiction writing
Ultimately, writing classes and workshops are excellent opportunities to write and develop your craft.
Whether you attend one-off events with published authors, structured classes designed to develop new writing, or panel discussions with publishing professionals, writing workshops can bring out the best in your creative writing.
What do you do in a writing workshop?
Over the years, I’ve been to MANY writing workshops, and I’ve rarely left the session feeling disappointed or despondent.
In my experience, writing workshops are a great place to discover something new about your current creative writing project. From reading it out loud to exploring character exercises, there’s always something new to find – and writing workshops are great ways to allow those discoveries to emerge.
Your writing workshop facilitator needs to know what they’re doing to help direct your work.
A typical writing workshop will include:
- Exercises – finding new ideas and gathering new material
- Readings – listening to each other’s work
- Discussions – discovering what listeners made of the work
Your writing workshop might follow this sequence:
All workshop facilitators have their favored approaches to eking out the creativity in their group.
They might give you a free-writing exercise just to get you writing something: they’ll give you a stimulus of some kind – a photo, an object, or give you a starting line.
My favorite free-writing exercise is to start writing something using the words:
That’s your first line. It could be a line of dialogue, the first line of a poem, or the opening words in your first chapter.
Often, you’ll go around the group, and each member will give a brief summary of the work they’ve achieved that week. You might not have written anything, and that’s fine – your presence alone represents your intention to develop your work even if you haven’t made progress.
The check-in is an excellent opportunity to discover that you’re not alone – you’re not the only procrastinator.
If you attend a regular writing workshop, you might have been set a project to complete, or you might be working on something for yourself.
The reading section of writing workshops is your opportunity to share your work – but, most importantly, it’s a chance to hear your work out loud.
You might not want to read it yourself, and that’s fine – another group member will jump in and read for you.
After reading, your group will discuss what they got from the piece. It’s an excellent opportunity to find out if they followed the plot, understood the imagery, or found the characters convincing, for example.
Discussions should be supportive, yet open and honest. There’s little to gain from hearing that people loved your piece without any constructive ways to improve it.
Try not to be defensive when you receive feedback. It’s the most valuable part of the process:
listen, take notes, and digest the feedback.
Then, determine HOW that feedback might help you develop your piece.
How do I find a local writing group?
The noticeboard at your local library or community center is the first place to look for local writing groups. Of course, you can look online, but you’re likely to miss small local groups that don’t have a website.
In my experience, it’s not essential to choose writing groups by their genres. The group I regularly attend has poets, short story writers, novelists, and playwrights.
I enjoy the mix – it’s good to hear the next chapter of a novel, the gory deaths in horror short stories, or the opening stages of a history play.
So, look local for local groups. Look online as well – you might find some decent online workshops over Zoom or Teams.
But you can’t beat being in the same room as other writers.
What is the most used writing tool?
It depends on the genre, but most writers use a word processor such as Word, Google Docs, or Pages – excellent for essays, academic papers, fiction, non-fiction, and novels.
Poets often prefer pen and paper, while scriptwriters choose scriptwriting software such as Final Draft, Celtx, or Scrivener.
However, I think the most valuable writing tool is Grammarly. Creative writing is often a fluid process, and we write long passages quickly and often miss mistakes.
Grammarly takes the hard work out of proofreading. It’s my number one must-have.
Harry Wallett is the Founder and Managing Director of Relay Publishing. Combining his entrepreneurial background with a love of great stories, Harry founded Relay in 2013 as a fresh way to create books and for writers to earn a living from their work. Since then, Relay has sold 3+ million copies and worked with 100s of writers on bestselling titles such as Defending Innocence, The Alveria Dragon Akademy Series and Rancher’s Family Christmas.
Harry oversees the creative direction of the company, and works to develop a supportive collaborative environment for the Relay team to thrive within in order to fulfill our mission to create unputdownable books.
Relay Publishing wants you
If you think you have what it takes to become a brilliant writer, editor, or storyliner, Relay Publishing has a range of exciting opportunities.
We can’t wait to hear from you!