Home > Blog Entry > Writing Workshops. Are They Worth Your Time and Money?

Writing Workshops. Are They Worth Your Time and Money?

So, if I am going to be serious about this writing caper, apart from writing, what do I need to do?  Do I need to find other writers? Should I be networking, learning from published authors, go to conferences? It seems as soon as I asked the question, there was a plethora of writing related activities jumping out at me. A couple of weeks ago I saw an advertisement for a Romance Writers workshop at Burwood library. I figured the genre wasn’t that important for someone just dipping their toe into the the pond so off I went. The presenter, Paula Roe, was a charming lady and she gave an informative presentation to all four of us. I was surprised there were only four participants (three really because one was the librarian). Where were all the people who had signed up to NANOWRIMO last year? Still, it was an informative talk and Paula gave a good overview of the genre, as well as how it crosses boundaries with a lot of other genres. It wasn’t a workshop though.

Next I saw a Georgette Heyer conference was being held just one suburb away from where I lived; it was an omen surely. Perhaps not. I found the conference engaging, but it was a homage to the author rather than an examination of her work. She certainly deserves a homage. After all, she did invent the regency romance. But I don’t think I want to write regency romances.

Then I saw it, an advertisement for a Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop at the Writer’s Centre in Rozelle. I jumped on it. I’ve never been to a real workshop before and the only writer I have ever talked to was Paula. (We didn’t really talk. She presented. I listened.) So off I went on Saturday.

Was it what I expected? Having never been to a writing workshop, I didn’t really have any expectations, though the instructions had suggested we bring some of our own writing. So there I was with half a dozen pages of my current work in progress tucked away in the back of my folder. It’s mere presence caused conflicting feeling of dread and anticipation to ebb and flow. Would we have to read it out loud? Exactly how bad would it sound to a room full of people who have probably spent a lot longer writing than I have.

I worried needlessly. We didn’t actually look at any writing.   A third of the time was spent on everyone introducing themselves, with constant interruptions as everyone else had to add their own vital piece of personal flotsam.

Robert Hood ran the workshop. He was approachable, friendly and generous with his time and knowledge. I probably would have liked to hear a teensy bit (a lot) less from the other participants, because frankly I don’t care what movies they have watched, or that they are really good at dialogue. If you want to show us some of your dialogue, that would have been worthwhile.

It was certainly interesting, but I don’t think I would sign up for another one any time soon. At this early point in learning the craft, I should probably spend more time writing and less time looking for a writing community.

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