I am a workshop junkie. There, I said it.
In my writing career I have attended so many writing workshops I can’t begin to tell you how many. (Dear Hubby probably could.)
A workshop—unlike a fun-filled conference—is a focused class, complete with homework and exercises and lots of learning. Workshops don’t come cheap. There can be quite an investment of time as well as money. Here are some of my conclusions about workshops in general:
The time is right for a workshop when I start to:
- Develop bad habits—otherwise known as getting lazy.
- Develop doubts—how can I finish my WIP if I unwrite more words than I put down?
- Develop a critical voice that tries to tell me my remaining words are sludge.
The way I choose the right workshop to attend:
- Word of mouth—when someone recommends a great workshop, and then I see evidence of the recommendation in that person’s work.
- Location—if it’s too enticing a place (Hawaii in winter comes to mind), I’ll go to the place but not attend the workshop.
- The workshop focuses on what I need to learn, and when in my career I’m ready to hear it.
Once I get to the workshop, here’s the process:
- Going splat—finding out how much I don’t know turns my writing upside down and inside out.
- Unlearning—clearing out the stuff that doesn’t work and/or misinformation.
- Picking myself up—being willing to try new experiments takes me to new levels of writing.
Some possible side-effects:
- Emotional battles, ranging from hopelessness to anger to elation
- Thick skin-itis
Advantages of a workshop:
- Camaraderie among like minds
- An explosion of ideas
- The little engine syndrome—I think I can, I know I can.
- Sleep deprivation
- Potential hazards, such as letting negativity creep in
- Fried brains
So, yes! Workshops can definitely pick you up. But you have to be ready to fall first.