Attending a writing workshop can be a real asset to your writing career as well as being a chance to meet other writers, editors, and publishers. Workshops may be general, focusing on many different kinds of writing (essays, mystery writing, general fiction, and non-fiction) or they may specialize in just one genre, such as science fiction writing or how to write romance novels. Most workshops give writers the opportunity to show their work to editors and/or agents, a real bonus to an unpublished writer.
Workshops may last a day, a weekend, a week, or even a whole summer. Some are open to everyone who pays the fee; others hold auctions for places in the workshop. But, how do you find the writing workshop that's right for you? Consider the following:
- Decide what you wish to gain from the workshop. Writers' workshops vary greatly in scope and emphasis. Decide if you want a workshop that focuses on the fundamentals of writing, with class-like instruction and review -- or if you prefer a more social-oriented workshop, with book signings, cocktail parties and such. Some workshops, such as the Maui Writers Conferences, even combine trips to exotic destinations with a writing workshop.
- Set a budget and a time frame. Workshops also vary considerably in cost and duration. Decide how much time and money you can spend on a writing workshop. Remember: if writing is your fulltime job, most of your workshop expenses are tax deductible.
- Look online. Once you've decided what type of writing workshop you'd like to attend and how much time and money you can spend, it's time to look for a specific event. A Google search of writers' workshops will yield hundreds of pages. To narrow the choices, consult the forums of popular writing sites, such as AbsoluteWrite.com and WritersWeekly.com. Such sites usually have a thread going at all times about workshops, many offering first-hand observations.
- Look Off-line. Off-line sources for writing workshops include the classified pages of magazines, such as Writer's Digest and Writer's Journal. If you belong to a writing group, ask the members if they have ever attended a writing workshop and get their recommendations. Independent bookstores, too, often have a classified board or are able to give suggestions.
- Look for Quality Workshops. Not all writers workshops are worth your time and money. Look for events that include well-regarded, published authors and editors from recognizable publications. See who is sponsoring the event. The best events are sponsored by well-known entities, whether these are publications, universities, or writers' organizations.
Whatever you decide, attending a writing workshop is an experience you won't soon forget. Such events are an enjoyable break from the computer screen and they more than pay for themselves in writing tips, new contacts, and new friends.