What should you look for in a workshop?

As Promised yesterday, here’s a few bullet points to keep in mind when you look to join a writer’s workshop.

  1. Look for a group of people who are close to yourself in development as a writer.  While pros can teach beginners, a workshop is not a classroom, it is a group of peers where you’re supposed to contribute as well.  If you’re an outlier past either extreme of the group’s bell-curve, you will find the give and take of workshoping too unbalanced to be much use.
  2. When you attend, look for a disciplined and businesslike process.  The mechanics are arbitrary, but it isn’t useful if critiques go off into tangents.  Also, is there a set schedule?  A defined process to distribute stories?
  3. Speaking of talking over each other, find a group of people who are respectful of you and each other.  Any group where people are dismissive, defensive, argumentative, will be less useful even if you aren’t the subject of the snark.
  4. Diversity is a good thing to find, differing points of view can help a story and illuminate blind spots.  But make sure that the group is open to whatever you’re writing.  Even if they are, bear in mind that the further afield you go, the less even a willing critiqe can help.  (They’re doing screenplays, you’re doing poetry.)
  5. Remember you’re looking for a workshop, not a support group.  If everything that goes through the group gets effusive praise, it’s only helping your self-esteem and doing squat for the writing.

Gook luck.

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