Sunday, September 24, 2023
Everything You Need to Know About Writing Workshops from ShaelinWrites
This is a reshare from ShaelinWrites. I've listened to a few of her videos, and she is very insightful and smart. She has some great thoughts about writing workshops in this video.
Interestingly, we had some drama in our workshop last week, and as long as I have been in this workshop (15 years?), the drama always surprises me. I expect people to respect others and put in the effort that the writer expects others to put into his piece. This is not so.
That being said, Shaelin comments on a few things that I would love to reinforce and a few things that I would like to respectfully disagree.
She told a story about a writing teacher that opened the class explaining that the people in workshops will be your best friends, future spouses, and mortal enemies. I love this. Writing is so vulnerable that when you trust your workshop groups with your deepest, dearest treasures--and you trust them to criticize your treasures--this suddenly deepens your trust and love for these people.
She says the ideal group is 4 people of your friends because 4 people will have the opportunity to say everything and because they are invested in you and understand you. I was in a workshop of 4 friends once, and this was horrible. We met for about two years, but we were unfocused and unorganized. I am currently in a group that is around 10, depending on the week, and the diversity of opinions is excellent. Also, I think there is a danger in trusting your friends because they may know you well and make assumptions about what you write based on what they know about you.
In the video, she also talks about forming a workshop based on compatible writers working in compatible genres with similar skill levels. I'm not sure I agree with this. Shaelin is talking about a smaller group, but in our slightly larger group, I like working with different writers, different genres, and different strengths and skills. Different genres shouldn't really matter in a group because we should all be working with the same basic elements and tools, and we should be trying to help each other make our work stronger. Additionally, different skills and strengths help us all to learn lots of tools and perspectives.
The last section Shaelin talks about is workshop etiquette, and I may suggest adding something about this to our workshop guidelines in the future. Be objective, avoid moral judgement, help the writer improve, and don't try to be the smartest or best. Last, help the writer, and the writer helps everybody; put into the critiques what you expect others to give you.
Lots of good information in this video although it is a little long.