The Advantages of Writing Workshops

Every writer dreams of sharing his or her character’s story and the world in which they live to an attentive audience. The writer’s use of sensory details, literary devices, and vivid language all contribute to authentic exposition and narrative voice, and ultimately, these elements are what grab and sustain the reader’s attention.

However, what most writers consider a finished novel or collection of short stories, is only a rough draft. If a writer can commit – just as he or she committed to finishing a project – a writing workshop can be the most beneficial part of the writing process if he or she is looking to submit their work to a literary agent or creative writing contest.

In a workshop, a writer will be part of an encouraging environment of his or her peers and receive supportive and constructive feedback on a specific project. Depending on the length and size of the workshop, many instructors provide daily writing prompts to break the ice at the beginning of each session.

Then, the instructor will facilitate a number of “reviewing sessions” over the course of the workshop. The group will identify the strengths and weaknesses of each project, and provide suggestions for improvement. Perhaps a writer uses the wrong word in a sentence. Perhaps there is a more concise way of constructing a paragraph. Whatever it is, the group will provide solutions.

While someone else’s input may be upsetting, another set of eyes is exactly what each writer is paying for, and the ultimate goal is to strengthen the work in question. Each piece of praise for a project gives a writer that much more confidence in his or her writing ability, and each piece of constructive criticism gives him or her the motivation and inspiration to revise and/or continue a work-in-progress. All that is required of the writer at this point is continued discipline.

At the end of the workshop, each writer will come away with an abundance of knowledge about the elements of fiction, character archetypes, and perhaps additional resources on setting description, and how to employ literary devices effectively. While writing workshops ultimately mean a bit more work for the writer, they are well worth the money and time invested.

That said, any creative writing instructor can be a source of inspiration for the established or undisciplined but aspiring writer, and writing workshops, regardless of genre, are also great ways to network and share a wealth of ideas.