The Remarkable Benefits of Workshopping With Other Writers

Unsure of how to kickstart your manuscript, blog, or freelance dream? Read on to discover how writing and writer workshops can enhance your literary career!

Blog Book Culture On Writing
Graphics of people sitting in a semi-circle towards a teacher at a whiteboard pointing at a flow chart. There are six diverse people in the circle, and some are sitting in grey chairs and others in beige bean bags. The background is an orange gradient.

Is your writing stuck in limbo? Are you writing entire stories in your head but writing none of them down? Your writing routine may need more structure and inspiration, or you may need help figuring out how to start. Workshopping with other writers might be the remedy to kickstart your career, end your procrastination, and get you writing. Through writing workshops, you can meet and establish relationships with other writers of the same or even higher skill set, gaining invaluable textbook or real-world experience knowledge.

Once you find a workshop for you, which should not be difficult, as you can find one in almost every genre, skill level, and degree of flexibility, you will be amongst people with the same goals and aspirations as you. From there, you can uplift each other and your work, keep in contact for future collaboration, and have a support system that can relate to almost everything you are going through. Here is what you can learn from this article:

  • What are writing workshops?
  • What are the benefits of attending a workshop?
  • Are there any drawbacks?
  • How do you find the workshop right for you?
  • Workshop Recommendations

What are writing workshops?

The Setup

No two writing workshops are the same. Therefore, not all experiences will be similar. A workshop that one writer swears by may cause immense frustration for another. But a few factors remain constant throughout which one can count on a benefit from:

  • An instructor or professional with expert knowledge in writing and publishing will teach the class. Your burning questions about your manuscript can be answered in real time by someone who can deliver a researched, experienced answer.
  • Workshops thrust you into a community of like-minded people. They will likely equal your skill set and interests, a group of people from which you can bounce ideas, questions, and advice.
  • Workshops get you actually writing.

Writing is an ability that can be learned, and practice makes perfect. With a more structured schedule and deadlines, the projects you have been putting off will finally come to fruition. Leave fear on the door because workshops are a place to learn from both the people attending them and the assignments you are given.

What are the benefits of attending a workshop?

The Pros

  • Developing Your Specific Craft
  • New and Fresh Perspectives
  • Confidence Boosting
  • A Sense of Community
  • Networking

Writing and writers’ workshops can be invaluable to accumulating knowledge. You are practicing writing as an art and achieving a deeper understanding of the mechanics and theories behind it. For example, a genre-specific fiction workshop may have you looking at the nuances of plot and structure, developing solid and well-formed characters, or fascinating, innovative worlds for fantasy novels. A poetry workshop may delve into the histories and intricacies of symbolism and the art of form.

Grammar and mechanics workshops or subtopics within genre-specific workshops are critical for readability and communication within any piece of literature. A considerable emphasis of many workshops is the idea that writing can be learned, and your craft will be improved through lectures and exercises. Practicing the art of writing will help writers gain confidence in their work and, therefore, confidence in themselves to achieve their goals.

The Importance of Peer Review

Peer review, a common but essential component of most workshops, exposes one to different writing styles, expands perspectives, and introduces new ideas. Often, editing and critiquing another person’s work allows you to understand the areas of improvement for yourself. Constructive criticism from other writers will aid in expanding your writing skills, vocabulary, and overall knowledge, improving your confidence through another method. Listening to the writing journeys of your peers can also provide inspiration or insight into additional avenues worthy of exploration. The diverse and multi-generational experiences of writers in your workshop will expand your perspective and teach you new things that you could add to your book. The richness and inclusivity in your own life will reflect in your writing. Therefore, the community of like-minded writers you’re introduced to has numerous benefits for you and your writing ability.

Getting acquainted with a community of writers aids in accountability, as well. The deadlines, routines, and the fact that someone will be reading your work put pressure on you to put your best foot forward and produce material. But, even though your creations are getting judged, workshops are the best place for you to try new things and fail. The writers around you can pick back up, but they have probably been stuck in a similar palace. People you meet through workshops are your support system. The advice and past experiences of the group guarantee that you can safely embrace the mistakes that come with learning and still make progress in your writing journey.

Networking

As with any career, networking is critical. When attending a writing workshop, you connect with writers who know other writers and, undoubtedly, know others. Furthermore, the instructor will have these same connections with people in the industry. The relationships built through writing workshops will open doors to more rigorous workshops, increase information flow, broaden your perspective, and build confidence. A simple conversation can create many opportunities that may not have been possible if you continued your writing journey alone. A ready portfolio and resume could increase marketability and make communication easier with prospective employees or mentors.

It is important to remember that networking vertically is just as important as networking horizontally. Just because the other writers in the workshops are at similar places in their journey to you doesn’t mean they are any less important than the instructor, who has more experience. As you grow with your peers, you will grow in different directions and undoubtedly uplift each other with the resources you discover independently. Networking increases your overall access to information, whether it is through friends, mentors, or business partners.

Writing workshops are often created or taught by people in the publishing industry or established authors. Writers are no strangers to endless manuscript submissions and rejections, but a writing workshop will introduce an expert to your writing and ambition. They can deliver the critiques and reasons for a rejection that publications will not offer, ensuring that you know a little about what publishers look for when they review a manuscript. Further, establishing that connection with a person inside the industry, whether another author or agent, may share your name with others, and the next time you submit something for review, a more steady, focused eye will fall on your paper. They could recommend people in the business who are better tailored to your writing style and genre, streamlining your journey.

Additionally, getting a book ready for publication is an involved and collaborative process, even if you are self-publishing. The final product of a literary piece of work requires agents, cover designers, art directors, multiple types of editors, sensitivity readers, public relations, sales and marketing teams, and much more. Many of these people may be in the writing workshops themselves, honing in on their own craft or trying to learn more about the other sectors of the process. Connecting with them is essential because the trust you will have to instill in them when they create parts of your book is significant. Meeting them casually may connect you to people they know who can more accurately set your visions about your manuscript in motion.

Are there any drawbacks?

Possible Cons

  • Difficult Classmates
  • Poor Feedback
  • Possible Plagiarism
  • It’s Just Not the Right Fit

There are some potential drawbacks to writing workshops and workshopping with other writers. In large classes, personalities may clash. Feedback may be too harsh or not thorough enough, as people may fear offending their peers or, conversely, are too critical. Writing and other art forms are subjective, so not every critique should be taken to heart. It is up to every writer and artist to develop the skill of being able to walk the line of standing up to their work and knowing when feedback is valuable. This may also lead to another slippery slope where the editing and revisions continue with no end.

Another issue with classes and peer review is the possibility of plagiarism. Although uncommon, it is not entirely unheard of and something to watch out for as you go through the courses and hear how others’ work progresses. Writing is somewhat cut-throat, but being weary of this may help writers learn to stand up for themselves and their work.

Additionally, if you are looking for one-on-one time with a single mentor, workshops may not be the right place to receive that. Workshops are based on collaboration with other writers, so if you are looking for a professional to focus on the entirety of your completed manuscript or project, individual coaching, another but separate writing tool, would probably be best.

Do not let this deter you too much. Ultimately, it will be what you make of it. Remind yourself of your goals; remember, there is always something to gain from connecting with others. If the practice or advice you learn from the instructor is not working for you, another writer in that same class may suggest an alternative or point you toward another writer or workshop. But there is something to learn in the struggle, too. As mentioned above, harnessing your ability to take feedback and have enough confidence in yourself and your work is critical. Every experience holds a certain amount of merit, and opportunities will present themselves if you are open to them.

How do you find the right workshop for you?

In-person vs. Online

In the hustle of everyday life, it can be overwhelming to think about trying to carve out time in the day to travel and attend a workshop. However, while workshops can be offered in person, they can also be provided online, as well as asynchronous courses or virtual periodic meetings. Online courses may be videos you watch and complete assignments based on, learning modules, or discussion boards. They can be completed on your own time, no matter your lifestyle or schedule. Virtual workshops could be via video chats like Zoom, which is highly similar to in-person workshops in face-to-face discussions.

Tips & Tricks

Because of the diversity among workshops, finding the one that best suits your writing needs, personality, and schedule may involve lots of trial and error. Depending on your availability, you will need to attend a workshop whose time realistically fits into your schedule. A quick Google search can reveal seminars in your area, meeting times, costs, and anything pertinent to that course’s structure. Evaluate your lifestyle honestly; set strict but realistic expectations regarding writing. Online courses are just as educational as in-person meetings. You must push yourself to achieve your goals, but knowing your boundaries and what you can and cannot change will aid in that process. If you set unrealistic expectations and fail, your confidence in your writing journey will plummet, putting you at a standstill.

As mentioned previously, workshops come in a variety of shapes and sizes. It would be best to narrow down which genre you want to explore and identify the things you want to walk from the workshop with. There is a course for you, from fiction to poetry, blogs or memoirs, or editing and revisions. Knowing precisely what you want to get out of the workshop can aid you in asking the right questions and ensure an efficient use of your time.

Researching the instructor and discovering their background will help you choose a workshop that guarantees connections to someone who shares your goals and can help you reach the final destination on your journey. The rigor of their background can determine the workshop’s environment. Some instructors may choose to run the class with an extreme degree of professionalism and with a definite curriculum. Others may foster a highly supportive, friendly, and relaxed environment. One is not better than the other, but it boils down to knowing how you work and learn best.

Workshop Recommendations

General Recommendations

There are numerous workshops out there that provide a variety of services. Here are just some of the few most accessible programs available:

  • Gotham Writers Workshop: The mission of Gotham Writers Workshop is to teach the craft of fiction, nonfiction, scriptwriting, comedy, poetry, song, blog, business, and newsletter writing. Professional development and teen courses are also offered. Class formats vary, from 10- or 6-week-long courses to single-day classes and intensives that can be attended in person in New York City, virtually over Zoom, or online and asynchronous. Costs start at $175.
  • Writer’s Digest University Classes and Workshops: Writer’s Digest University offers courses and workshops for specific genres, freelance writing, and copywriting. Beginner’s classes, manuscript finalization, publication prep, marketing, and business workshops, instead of only writing, are additionally provided. All courses come with a cost and are taught by professional educators who aim to aid you in achieving your exact writing goals.
  • The Young Writers Initiative Summer Camp: This free online workshop is designed for aspiring writers aged 13 to 19. Inspired by collegiate and MFA programs, writers will establish close relationships with mentors and other writers in their workshop group, completing daily exercises and readings to expand on their literary knowledge and enhance their ability to harness their craft, along with professional development lectures, giving and receiving tailored feedback, and networking with the broader community. The Young Writers Initiative offers two camps for fiction and poetry, and by the end of both workshops, attendees will have two pieces finalized for publication submission.

Additionally, many colleges in your area may offer summer or night classes in the literary arts and periodic workshops. There are plenty of online programs from accredited universities, such as online MFA programs, which will aid in honing your skills, getting your work ready for publication, and networking and leave you with a certificate or degree. Certificates from Coursera are a great way to study at a university for as long as a couple of weeks to months. Some courses are free, and some come with a cost, but financial aid is applicable. Coursera offers a variety of genre-specific, composition, and business-related workshops for writers of any skill level. With the massive diversity in workshops and classes from multiple organizations, finding a course that will work for you and maximize the benefits of each one you participate in is easy.

Utilizing Facebook and LinkedIn

If you want a more individualized approach to workshopping, joining author groups on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn Learning provides more private practices with the same amount of information flow between authors and aspiring writers. Even if the group is currently inactive, going through the messages will still supply valuable resources and insights into the topic of your interest. To find the right group for you, ensure you are searching with keywords such as “fiction” or “novel writing.” On Facebook, there are groups for guidance on self-publishing, women’s only writing communities, Q&As with editors, and career advice for those who wish to leave or enter the writing or publishing occupation. Some groups are created by people in the industry, and all of them are meant to have writers connect with, support, and inspire one another in their journey.

LinkedIn Learning delivers courses by experts in the field where, upon completion, writers will earn a certificate. Designed with videos, learning modules, and assignments, LinkedIn Learning provides palatable editing, English-language writing, grammar, and genre-specific craft-building courses that can be completed at the writer’s discretion. LinkedIn helps users identify the essential skills for their current and prospective careers, tailoring course options to show the most effective and critical course topics in the results. Users are allowed free access for one month to access the certification courses, and then courses are available to purchase. These certificates can be transferred to your LinkedIn profile, boosting your marketability to other authors or publishers. Further, private messaging on both Facebook and LinkedIn makes it easier to forge lifelong connections with writers in your class.

Practice Makes Perfect

A passion for writing is a tedious and trying journey. But if you are talking about writing, you’re not writing. The first step in a publishing career, an accepted manuscript, or an influential blog is to simply begin writing. If you are unsure of where to begin or are worried you lack a strong literary foundation, enroll in a class to boost your confidence and add to your experience. Writing workshops are a great way to get your foot in the door and achieve your writing goals.


Click here to discover more helpful industry content and explore the Bookstr Blog!

Check out Bookstr’s Author’s Services Promote Your Book Page and find out how Bookstr can compliment your writing journey!

FEATURED IMAGE VIA BOOKSTR / EMMA JAMRIN