Improve your writing

Online Writing Workshops

Do writing workshops help you to write better?

Image via Wikipedia

Long before I ended up back in college as a 53-year-old sophomore in pursuit of my dream of publication and in becoming a better writer, I spent the earlier part of my life trying to teach myself to write short stories.  I read self-help books for writers.  I read books about writing short stories.  I read books on grammar and spelling and punctuation.  I obsessively read the short story collections of my favorite authors.  In other words, I didn’t just write; I studied my craft.

I also investigated writing workshops.  All of this happened years ago; I’m writing from memory.  I signed up for the Writer’s Digest Writing Workshop.  The workshop was associated with the Writer’s Digest Magazine which still publishes today.

All of the instructors were published in their fields of expertise.  They weren’t big-time writers but they had credentials.  The workshop was operated by mail.  The student got a booklet in the mail with all of the instructors’ names, photos and credentials.  The student picked an instructor to work with.

Once the student had signed up, the workshop sent the student a book of coupons.  The student mailed in a fee along with the coupon every month.  It was a one year course and my total fee was $300.  What did I get for my money?

I would mail in a short story to my personal instructor.  You could only send one story at a time and you had to wait for an answer before sending in another story.  About two to three weeks later I would get the story back with written corrections on the original hard copy and a typed two to three page critique.

Was the workshop worth $300?  No.  Did it help me to write better?  Definitely yes.  The workshop convinced me that I had to keep writing and keep studying my craft on my own.

There are still a lot of workshops for writers, many of them online.  What a writer needs to know is that a writer must teach the self to write.  That means keep writing and keep studying.  Sometimes I get the feeling that too many writers just want to write and don’t want to study.

Liked it

Tags: , , , , , , ,

18 Responses to “Online Writing Workshops”
  • Buma
    September 5th, 2009 at 4:08 am

    Amazingly written, you are one ambitious man Guy! I admire that about you.

  • Nikita K
    September 5th, 2009 at 4:08 am

    I’ve never been to writing workshops but I do know that they are the real test for your writing because everyone there are ruthless and as you said, fair enough you may not be successful in publishing but it definitely does help to sharpen your writing skills and besides, a writer can never learn enough!
    Good article of your experiences to teach others an iota of what you learned too!

  • Guy Hogan
    September 5th, 2009 at 8:24 am

    Buma, this article brings back memories. I’ve been writing for such a long time that sometimes it’s nice to look back and to remember.

  • Guy Hogan
    September 5th, 2009 at 8:29 am

    Atikin, workshops are interesting. A workshop won’t hurt a writer and like anything else, the more you put into a workshop the more you get out of it. If you get a chance, you might think about trying one.

  • Monica Sarkar
    September 5th, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Thank you for sharing this, I might look into online workshops. And age is insignificant when it comes to learning – you should be very proud that you realize your dream and don’t allow for any obstacles.

  • Guy Hogan
    September 5th, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Hi, Misty: I’m very happy I didn’t give up on my dream of publication and writing better. I’ve been published and I’m a better writer. And now I publish other writers.

  • lillyrose
    September 5th, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Interesting article Guy. I have looked at writing workshops before but have lacked in confidence to take one! maybe now is the time to stop and take the plunge!

  • cutedrishti8
    September 5th, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Nice one to share…Great work.. I have done only online learning only of Microsoft Certification

  • Guy Hogan
    September 5th, 2009 at 11:15 am

    lillyrose, a writing workshop can be very useful. We writers spend so much time alone writing that the imput from a workshop may open up all sorts of new possibilities in the writer’s work.

  • Guy Hogan
    September 5th, 2009 at 11:22 am

    cutedrishti8, I’ve done some online learning myself. It had to do with Microsoft Office. Computers have given us all sorts of learning opportunities. Online writing workshops are just one opportunity.

  • athena goodlight
    September 5th, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Your article is a good eye opener. It made me recollect my thoughts on the writing workshops back then in college as a writing minor…. way long ago… haha.
    It is true that it’s very important to keep learning. While the techniques back then still apply today, we need to keep on educating ourselves. It’s a lifelong learning process, actually.

  • Guy Hogan
    September 5th, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    athena, I could not agree more. I’ve learnt a great deal about online writing by being a part of the Triond community. Triond is the perfect fit for me. I like the simplicity of everything.

  • Mary Patricia Bird
    September 5th, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    After attending a few workshops in nearby cities, our writing group is now sponsoring (for a lower admission fee) workshops in our own town. We have had great attendance and feedback. We have another coming up this fall. They sure have helped me as a writer. I like the “in person” effect better.

    Great article.

  • Guy Hogan
    September 6th, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Mary, I do like the live feedback a writer gets in a workshop. We writers write alone and sometimes what we think our words are saying may not be what other people think our words are saying.

  • Daisy Peasblossom
    September 12th, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Workshops can be fun; sometimes they are even useful. In my experience, a trusted “first reader” may be the most valuable asset a writer can have. By that I mean a person who will read your work, point out its faults or favors without flattering or tearing you down. Your spouse is RARELY a good “first reader”.

  • agriculi
    September 16th, 2009 at 8:58 am

    I did a writing course a few years ago it was in a group so you got the feed back from each other. We practiced writing in diverend. styles. I think it was very help full. We also had to read several books and try to write something in that style. Another evening the tutor brought a cd player and while we listened to a piece of music we wrote what ever came up in us.

  • Guy Hogan
    September 16th, 2009 at 9:39 am

    agriculi, I’ve found there are all kinds of writing workshops. They try all kinds of creative things to get their students writing. The feedback can be very useful in helping a writer grow.

  • Guy Hogan
    September 16th, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Daisy, as far as I can tell family or friends are never good first readers. Unless they have credentials as readers or writers, what do they know about writing?

Leave a Reply
comments powered by Disqus
Click the icon to the left to subscribe to Writinghood with your favorite RSS reader.
© 2009 Writinghood | About | Advertise | Contact | Submit an Article
Powered by