The Do’s and Don’ts for a Successful Writing Workshop

Filed in Ask the Editor by on November 9, 2021 0 Comments

If you’ve decided to participate in your first writing workshop you may be wondering what you can do to be best prepared. Keep reading for our do's and d...

If you’ve decided to participate in your first writing workshop — either virtually or in person — you may be wondering what you can do to be best prepared for your time with other writers and how to make the most of that time. Since a writing workshop typically takes place with a small group of writers and a professional to oversee the activity, you’ll most likely receive specific instructions for how to prepare for the workshop.

Since you’ll be trading writing pieces with others in the class, you will need to have your writing in the best possible shape. First, make sure the piece of writing you want to take meets the length requirement. Second, ensure your writing is formatted as requested. If you’re meeting in person, you may be asked to print a specific number of copies of your work to pass around for critique. If you’re doing a virtual writing workshop, you may need to email your submission ahead of time.

Keep reading for our do’s and don’ts for a successful writing workshop:

Be open and ready for feedback.

Sharing your work with other creatives for the first time can be a little jarring. Make sure you are open and ready for the feedback you’ll receive. Since writing workshops are geared toward finding flaws in each writer’s work, you’ll need to be willing to accept constructive feedback from the other participants.

Don’t walk in with an ego.

The worst thing you can do is walk into a writing workshop thinking you’re the alpha writer and everyone else should strive to match your greatness. Instead, go in with a level head and know that the goal is for all participants to be able to learn from each other and the group leader.

Be prepared with more than one piece of feedback for others.

If you receive writing from other participants ahead of the workshop, be sure to take time to read over them and jot down multiple suggestions you may have. You’ll want to be sure you have enough thoughts to share so you can avoid repeating someone else’s suggestion. 

Don’t be the harshest critic in the room.

You don’t want to coddle other writers, but you also don’t want to be the harshest reviewer either. Always start with a piece of positive feedback and follow that up with a recommended suggestion. Be polite in your delivery and remember to be empathetic. You will be in the hot seat soon enough.

Be communicative.

Participating in the class dialogue may feel uncomfortable at first, especially if you’re more of an introvert, but allowing your thoughts to be heard by others is an important part of your writing workshop experience. Others may agree or disagree with your thoughts, but your goal isn’t to convince everyone you’re right. Your only goal is to feel like your first writing workshop was a success, and participation is a huge part of that.

Don’t take it personally.

If you start to feel overwhelmed by feedback on your own work, stop and take a deep breath and remind yourself it’s not personal. Your peers will make suggestions they feel may improve your piece. Don’t immediately shoot down suggestions; instead, let them marinate. Also, feel free to go back to specific peers during a break and ask if they mind elaborating further on their suggestions. This may help you process the suggestion better.

Be patient.

Your first writing workshop may put you on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, and all you can do is take it in stride and keep your cool. Be patient with yourself and your peers during the workshop process.

Don’t let self-doubt creep in.

If competitive feelings start to creep in during your writing workshop, remind yourself that everyone has to start somewhere. You might feel someone’s writing is more advanced, but don’t let self-doubt creep in. That other person may have years of experience you’re unaware of. Stay focused on yourself and how you can improve your writing.

A writing workshop is successful as long as you walk out with information you didn’t have before participating. It’s really that easy!

Ready to take the next step with your writing? Call 1-866-381-2665 to speak with one of our Publishing Consultants. You can also follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for more writing inspiration.

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About the Author ()

Erika Bennett has been a freelance editor for nearly half a decade. Before joining the Xulon team in 2010, she worked with several first time authors who wanted to test the waters of self-publishing. Her aim is to make sure great books find their way into readers' hands.

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