As an educator and writer, I’ve been using and benefiting from writing workshops for more than a decade. And let me tell you, they are an explosive process!
What do you mean by “explosive”?
In my classrooms or in the independent workshops I’ve led, I watch students/participants go from being someone with an idea or a topic they’d like to write about to being a confident writer who imparts a unique meaning and understanding to their work. In this way, I’d like to think that the workshop process helps these folks ‘explode’ their idea and find its true impact.
But what is the workshop process?
It’s a group setting in which writers write about what’s important to them with the guidance and mentorship of the workshop leader. Developed in the 80s by educator Donald Graves as a way to encourage children to write, it has become a standard format in writing programs for all ages.
Here’s a brief glimpse at how I lead my workshops:
Writers receive a prompt or series of prompts over a course of time. These prompts are generative, meaning they help the writer get started writing about something. Perhaps they know what they want to write about, so they can use the prompt as inspiration for that topic. If they don’t know what they want to write about, at least they are putting words on the page.
Over time, participants craft a body of work. Maybe it’s a series of vignettes about childhood on the farm. Perhaps it is a collection of poems. Maybe it’s just some random scribblings. With these pieces, our group begins the process of looking for the truest truth, the most vivid image, or the strongest setting. In other words, as a supportive group, we help each other find the real story within our preliminary writings (I say we because I, too, participate).
Eventually, we refine our best pieces from the workshop, and perhaps we have something worth publishing. If not, participants come away with a sense of how to find their story within an idea, how to address their audience, and what their story means.
Would you like to sign up for a workshop with me?
In February, through the Sioux Falls Poetry Collective, I will be leading a writing work shop for high school poets. The SuFu PoCo is sponsored by the Sioux Falls Education Association.