Lots of people are nervous about writing workshops. They don’t really want to put themselves out there, which becomes more or less a requirement at certain points during writing workshops, depending on the format. A lot of people are worried about getting their writing criticized or evaluated in a large group. However, if you want to be a better writer, there are certain things that you have to do as a matter of course. In many cases, you’re going to need to show your writing to someone else at some point or another in order to get feedback. A writing workshop is often a good environment for this part of the process.
At a writing workshop, everyone is there to try to improve his or her writing skills. You all have a common purpose. Most of you have some experience with writing already, and you’re all probably readers. These days, you have all probably reviewed something online before as well. As such, you all have a lot of experience that you can bring to the table when it’s time to get a sense of other people’s work. Benefiting from other people’s experience will often automatically make you a better writer.
Writing workshops also just help in some cases because they give people more practice. It has been said that writers have to write a million words of pure garbage before they can create something that’s good. People often have a hard time motivating themselves to move forward in that regard. A writing workshop can give you the motivation that you need in a structured environment that will truly allow you to advance. Your other writers can encourage you literally or figuratively.
A writing workshop can also help you network with other writers, which is one of the practical considerations of a writing workshop that a lot of people don’t discuss. Getting anywhere in writing is very difficult. Writing workshops that will really allow people to meet other writers can make all the difference in the world for the people who are trying to move forward as writers at all. Even if you don’t plan to write professionally and you just want to see if it is possible for other people to read your stuff and like it, a writing workshop can help. Just getting someone to talk about your book on Twitter can help, and you will meet writers who might do that for you at the writing workshops.
Writing workshops are not without their flaws. In some cases, people are too polite or disinterested to offer any real feedback, which will not help you grow as a writer enough. In other cases, people will go in the opposite direction and they will be too critical to actually offer people any real advice or assistance. Having all of your stuff praised all the time is just as unhelpful as having all of your stuff criticized all the time. There are going to be people in all writing workshops who will play the part of the kindergarten teacher or the caustic critic, and part of the skill of getting something out of writing workshops involves ignoring them.
However, you will encounter both groups when you are actually a writer in the first place. It is genuinely useful to try to learn to tune them out when you are still at the writing workshop stage in a lot of cases. You need to start learning which sorts of criticisms to understand and which to tune out, since you are going to get constructive and reductive criticism when you are actually a writer in any capacity at any point in your life. Writing workshops can help make you a better writer in terms of the craft and in terms of the persona that it requires.