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  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Mar 2011
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    How useful are writers workshops

    Hi, new to the forums.

    O.K. so I want to be a fiction writer (obviously), and am considering what college I want to attend. A writers' workshop seems nice - but in all honesty - not everyone becomes an author. Even if I do, it could be many years before I publish my first novel, and I don't really want to be an English teacher durring that time... So, is taking a prestigious writers workshop worth it? Or should I pursue another major while continuing my writing on my own time?



  2. #2
    Junior Member
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    How useful are writers workshops

    -- moved topic --

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Re: How useful are writers workshops

    I think it depends on how well you'd like to live while you're waiting to become a famous author.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2010
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    Re: How useful are writers workshops

    What writer's workshop are you referring to? It's not too difficult to major or minor in creative writing as an undergrad, if that is what you're considering. If you are just starting college, I would advise you to take a creative writing course or two just to get a taste. But you should know that most undergrad creative writing classes are not workshops, simply because of their size. You cannot run an effective writing workshop in a semester with 25-30 people in the class. There just isn't enough time. An undergrad creative writing course will probably be more in the form of creative writing prompts/assignments and critical analysis of the craft in assigned readings.

    If you are considering workshops outside of the college track, you have other options--not all of them cheap. Gotham offers some pretty decent online courses. And I think you can find some classes online at Grubstreet. If you live in the Boston area, Grubstreet has onsite workshops and courses that are reasonable. The online classes are more expensive, I think. Another option are creative classes or writing workshops at your local community college. For most workshops, you are required to have taken a creative writing course before you can participate in the workshop. That way, the instructor knows the students are on a peer level. And you can always look for a critique group, either online or locally.

    As for career choices with a creative writing degree-- It's really a professional degree. Without an advanced degree (an MFA in Writing), your job options are pretty limited. With an MFA in Writing, you can find plenty of job opportunities to work as an editor, to teach (usually as an adjunct at a community college), to work as an intern for an agent, to work on a literary magazine, etc.

    So, I guess I would ask you what your goals are. If your goal is to develop a career in the writing industry (as a college teacher or editor), you will probably need to think about pursuing an advanced degree in some related area. If your goal is simply to improve your writing craft while you work in another field, then take a few creative writing courses first and see how it goes.

    I do think that any writer improves with feedback. That feedback can come from other writers in a critique group, a writing teacher or mentor, or a professional editor. But working in a vacuum and hoping your craft will simply improve from practice is a little bit like trying to teach yourself to play piano. If you have no one to guide you through some of the basics of the craft, you'll waste a lot of time and make a lot of stupid mistakes along the way. That's not to say you won't make the mistakes if you don't receive feedback, but at least the feedback may keep you from repeating those stupid mistakes.

    Just my thoughts...

    Jeanne

  5. #5
    Aver0n 2o11
    Guest

    Re: How useful are writers workshops

    I think studying writing is very depressing. I find it much better for the sake of my sanity to be studying and working in a field other than literature, helps keep me motivated because I am not being swamped by it 24/7. If you're into journalism though, that's a different story. You must major in and work with the newspapers in order to be a journalist - well you don't have to, but it sure makes getting a job as a reporter a heck of a lot easier.

  6. #6
    Member
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    Aug 2010
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    56

    Re: How useful are writers workshops

    For what it's worth, I know very few successful novelists with degrees in English Literature, Creative Writing, or a related subject. Most of the successful writers I know (a majority of whom are commercial fiction novelists) either have no college education, have a degree or degrees in fields entirely unrelated to writing, or took the Liberal Arts route and just took courses that interested them.

    At your age, I was writing and had been for quite a while, but didn't start taking the serious view of possibly making it my career (I was woefully ignorant of the odds against that happening and, indeed, against becoming published at all) until I realized while casting about in college for some direction in my life that there was nothing ELSE I wanted to do. So I began writing seriously, with an eye to getting published.

    Creative writing courses in college did not help me, since they were geared to non-fiction, essays, poetry, and short stories or novellas. I wanted to write novels. Writers conferences offered occasional workshops that were helpful, though not many. What helped me was putting my butt in the chair and writing. And reading a lot. And writing a lot.

    So my advice as to course or workshops would be to make sure they're offering to teach skills you believe you'll need. But first I'd advise sitting down and starting a novel. Figure out what you want to write (what you like reading is a good indicator) and then just start writing. It'll probably be crap, because most first attempts are, but it will also show you whether you have a feeling for writing, for storytelling, and probably tell you what sorts of things (like grammar) you might need to concentrate on in your studies.

    Then you can come back to places like here or Absolute Write with your questions.

    Good luck.

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