6 reasons why you should attend a writing workshop
In March 2020, author James McCreet is running two day-long workshops on structure and craft. One focuses on how you move from an idea to a workable structure. The other looks at how to write an effective crime novel.
The first day is ideal for anyone who is thinking about writing a novel or who has had problems writing/finishing novels. The second day goes into more detail about storytelling techniques. They can be done separately or combined to form an intensive writing course (because a crime novel is just a novel but with more narrative mechanisms embedded).
Why spend your money? What do you get that you might not get elsewhere? James tells all...
During the two days, you’ll receive wisdom accrued during my 12 years of professional writing, including eleven novels completed and also a textbook on how to structure novels. Not only that, but you’ll benefit from the experiences of all of the students I taught on an MA Creative Writing course and all of the writers I’ve mentored or tutored. Something I’ve seen is that being able to write well doesn’t automatically translate into an ability to teach writing. Teaching requires an understanding of where the student is in the process and how to overcome the obstacles.
Sure, you can buy plenty of guides on writing and they are full of tips or exercises. But these guides don’t typically converse with you or answer your individual queries. They don’t check if you understand before proceeding. They don’t compel you to do their exercises and give your feedback. In a good workshop, you can’t be passive. You’re not there simply to listen. You’re there to actively learn.
It’s said that the average adult attention span is around 40 minutes – no good if you want to spend the whole day learning. That’s why an effective workshop is structured to maximize and extend your attention by frequently changing the focus and pace. It will feel like the time has passed quickly, but also that you’ve done a lot of work.
4. NEW PERSPECTIVES
I’ve been writing articles on craft and structure for around ten years and I find there’s always something new or interesting to think about. I’m interested in solving the problems faced by apprentice writers (of whom I am one) and always looking for solutions. You may not agree with some of the things I suggest, but I hope many of them will make you think afresh about your process.
I’ve participated in workshops where all I have to show at the end is half a page of inconclusive scribbles/doodles and a sense that I’ve lost a few hours I’ll never get back. I hate those workshops. My intention for these two days is that you leave with a ‘goodie bag’ of new techniques, notes and ideas that you can apply directly and immediately to your writing. Moreover, you’ll be able to send examples of your work to me after the workshop for personalized feedback.
Writers can be solitary animals (I probably spend more time with my keyboard than I do with humans) so it’s good to have an opportunity to meet with others. You might make new friendships . . . or it might be like when you meet a countryman abroad and have all of your stereotypes reinforced. Either way, there’ll be a story in it!