5 Main Benefits of Creative Writing Workshops

 

by Sara Kopeczky

 

Joining a creative writing workshop can be scary, especially for beginners, because allowing others to read your writing means also allowing them to criticize your work as well (hopefully in a constructive way). However, I think that the pros by far outweigh the cons. Here are some of the major advantages of creative writing workshops I have identified so far from my own experience:

 

1. Motivation

If you feel like you are meant to write stories, but somehow never get around to actually doing it, if you find yourself constantly procrastinating and inventing excuses not to write, you probably need an additional boost of motivation. Joining a group of other people who are also aspiring writers can give you a sense of urgency that you are presently lacking.

For example, if the group meets on Thursdays, and everyone has to bring their story on that day, you don’t want to be the only one without their homework. Creative writing workshops keep you accountable to your goals. Having a set deadline is the best way to keep writing even on the days when you don’t feel like it, or, as I like to say, to turn your Netflix evenings into your writing evenings. *sobbing quietly*

 

2. Constructive Criticism

Teachers of creative writing workshops are experts in the field, and possibly writers themselves. It is always a good thing to have someone other than your friends and family to read your stories, and give you their honest (and educated) opinion. (Let’s face it, your friends will always say it’s the best piece of fiction they have ever read, and the road to success is not paved with vanity). They might notice something that you missed, and sometimes it is the small details that really make or break the story.

It’s great to have this opportunity to improve your writing skills, and become aware of some of the errors you are prone to making (such as using too much adjectives, for example). You should always keep in mind that the teacher’s goal is to help you, and not to criticize you. You share a common goal: to improve your writing.

 

3. Learning From the Mistakes of Others

The teacher is not the only one giving you feedback, at least that’s how my creative writing workshop works. We all have to listen carefully to the stories of others, and make notes about some things that they did well, and on others that could use some improvement.

Clearly you shouldn’t take all the comments of your colleagues as absolute truths: in my creative writing group there is an old lady sensitive to descriptions of violence, and no matter how well written the story is, she dislikes it because it feels too graphic for her. However, if more that three people notice the same thing, it might be worthwhile to think about it and revise your story. Also, hearing the mistakes of others can help you avoid doing the same thing in your writing.

 

4. Inspiration

Creative writing workshops can be a great source of inspiration for your writing. The teacher is usually required to come up with a series of writing tasks or props, usually related to whatever the subject you are dealing with at the time (for example, writing a dialogue, coming up with a convincing character, etc).

Sometimes, these tasks can really inspire you to write longer pieces of fiction than originally intended, and think of stories you would never have come up with otherwise. It is a great opportunity to really explore your writing style and to try a wide range of different subjects and narrators. Experimenting with different styles brings you closer to discovering your true writing voice.

 

5. Support

Being able to hang out with other people who also write is an incredibly rewarding experience. Many writers have felt isolated or discouraged from writing because nobody took them seriously or they thought that everyone could do it (yeah, right). Creative writing workshops are full of people who agree that a) good writing is hard, b) that writing can be improved with practice and c) that writing good stories is worth the time spent on said practice.

During your meetings, you are surrounded by people who get it: they know how difficult it can be, but also know that quitting is not an option. The members of your creative writing group can be your biggest cheerleaders, and also the people to celebrate your writing victories with.

 

 

 

Guest post contributed by Sara Kopeczky. Sara is an English and Italian teacher living in Croatia. She is the editor of The Split Mind, a magazine dedicated to literature and culture. She is an aspiring author and has published poetry and short fiction in magazines, collections and online. She has won several literary competitions in Croatia and Germany.

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15 thoughts on “5 Main Benefits of Creative Writing Workshops”

  1. I wish there were affordable ones. 😔 Not everybody has the money. Especially people unable to work and all they can do is write. It like these things are for the able-bodied only. Looks like fun, though.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Where I live in Boston, GrubStreet and Community Educations host great workshops. Both have scholarships for the classes. I don’t know if such support exists where you live, but you might check.

      Like

    2. Sometimes you can find online groups, who will critique each other. No payment, just the promise of feedback to one another. I hope you can find one! I am chronically ill, so I understand your struggle. ❤ Best of luck x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Cynthia Hilston – Author & Blogger and commented:
    Agreed on the benefit of writing workshops. I also would like to mention writers groups. They can serve a similar function, although typically, the writers bring material to the group that’s already written and read by the group members. Then critiques are made. This is versus doing writing exercises in a group setting. I’ve been part of a writers group at my local library for almost two years now, and I find it extremely beneficial. I always encourage other writers to seek out a group like this. I have also become friends with several of the group members.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve been taking several multi-week workshops lately and this advise is so true. Accountability is a big one for me. One of my recent workshops spawned a writing group. It’s been tough to write around summer travel and holidays, but the writing group met this week anyway. I pulled out an old essay and asked for feedback. It was maybe 3 years old and it was facinating to see how my writing has evolved and my voice grown. I am now revising that for another review to submit later. Great advice!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I do writing courses, and I get critiques from my teacher. On my blog, I publish most of my works for the other writers in the course to read and possibly critique. I agree that it very encouraging for us to hear feedback from fellow writers instead of just friends and family. Thanks for posting this advice!

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  5. I totally agree. I was part of an online workshop/critiquing group for seven years and I’m shocked how much I learned from it. Not least of all, to be less protective and more open with my work.
    Being in a critiquingi group has taught me not to be scared to listen what other people has to say abotu my writing, which I thinkis a gift on its own. And by becoming more receptive, my writing skills have improved.

    I will always suggest writers to join a critiquing group. It’s absolutely worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Since starting my own creative writing group, I am compelled to write more (since deadlines encourage me to keep up), and I actually feel more like a writer as I’ve developed my own mini writing community.

    Like

  7. I believe Albert Einstein said ‘Creativity is contagious, pass it on’ (or words to that effect). What you say about drawing energy from others in the group is so true. It is motivating being with other writers.

    Like

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