Attending Writing Workshops

writingworkshopIn the age of the internet, it’s become much easier to find other writers to bounce ideas off of, commiserate with and be motivated by. It can be harder to find that community in the real world.

If you participate in NaNoWriMo, you may have noticed that they schedule in-person write-ins. Another option, especially if you live near a large city, is a writing workshop. These are often put together by a local college and they bring published authors and literary agents together to share their expertise – for a small fee.

I’ve been lucky in Tucson where we have the free Festival of Books every February at the University of Arizona and the Pima Writers’ Workshop in May. I’ve attended four or five times and was disappointed to learn this year – its 28th – would be the last.

It got me thinking whether these real world opportunities are going the way of the Dodo bird… or the print book. Now that it’s gotten so easy to look up what top literary agents have to say about writing queries, is there simply less demand for a chance to hear an agent speak to a  half-full auditorium about it?

What gets lost with that kind of thinking is the networking potential. My favorite part of the workshop was the manuscript consultation where you’d get a professional read and critique of thirty submitted pages. I’m still thinking about some of the feedback I got yesterday – so much more useful than a form rejection letter.

If you can find a workshop to attend in your area, I’d recommend it. Pay attention to what the agent says and when you send a query, let them know you saw them, mention something from their speech. Making a personal connection matters. I heard that once from an agent giving a speech in a half-full auditorium.

Take advantage and go to one of these workshops before they’re extinct.

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4 thoughts on “Attending Writing Workshops

  1. When I was in high school, we held writing workshops in the school sometimes. The Playwrights Workshop was an annual event we had and a professional playwright would come in and help guide us through the process of writing and editing a one act play. It was awesome. Other than that, I’ve never participated in a writing workshop in person. I’ve done some virtual ones, but it is just time I do not seem to have anymore. Seems sad that they’d be going away, though. I wonder if online workshops are increasing in availability and that’s a reason for the decline in in-person workshops… or if people just don’t have time for it anymore, online or otherwise.

  2. I agree, Katie. I like the in-person, sitting at a table with writers I’ve never met and getting to know how they make it work. We have one in San Diego I went to for the first time this year. What a great experience.

  3. I’ve been to a couple of writer’s workshops years ago,but I haven’t been to one lately. There were a couple this summer in my area that I was interested in. Sadly between my day job and family I haven’t been able to schedule attending one. sigh…

  4. Awful to think that what was once considered a staple for writers might soon be a thing of the past.

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