Disclaimer: Like earning a writing degree, or attending a writers’ conference, joining or starting a writers’ workshop can be a terrific way to procrastinate and avoid the hard, solitary work of writing. However, assuming you’ve nailed this prerequisite and your writing discipline is in place, the writers’ workshop can be an irreplaceable addition to your writerly life.
In February 2017 I founded the Westside Writers’ Workshop. This workshop was started because a fellow writer, Andrea, wanted it. I was open to the idea because I was post-MFA and without a place to take my writing. Any workshop is an experiment, an unknown, a lark. It can disintegrate in any number of ways.
This one didn’t. The reasons for that are for another post. Let’s stay focused on you.
Here is what a writers’ workshop can do for you:
Distinguish the difference between solitary and alone. If you look up these two words you’ll find no profound difference. So I’ll create one. Writing is solitary work; however, it is not work that we should do alone – in confinement, without interaction with others. Humans are designed to do nothing alone. We are designed for relationship, for communal purpose. A writers’ workshop ensures we’re not alone in our solitude.
Offer reading writers. You need a group of readers to take your work to as you’re creating it. You need the reader’s feedback in order to finish a story. You also need writers to take your work to. You need people who are neck deep in the process as well, preferably who have gone further into the wild than you have, and who can act as honest judges and caring guides.
Provide essential deadlines. A writers’ workshop provides deadlines/submission periods/expectations. It is easy to drift in our solitude. We can work endlessly, never finishing anything, never achieving a pre-arranged milestone with our work. The workshop brings structure. It creates room for finishing work. Every creator needs a designed and tended place in which to work.
So be a writer. But don’t be a loner. Help other writers as you go. And they will help you.
*Note it’s not a Writers’ Group. It is not a place for loitering. Work must get done. Production is the goal. It is a workshop.