If you’ve come here today looking for a new installment of First Drafts, then you’re S.O.L., as our Jenna is still recuperating from her travails. So instead, we’re going way, way back in the archives to November 12th, 2009, to reprint a post from Justine called “Workshop Tips.” Because the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The beginning stages of a writing project, path or career can be frustrating. The desire to improve is strong, but the process is slow. Writing is like any other artform—music, fine art, etc.—in that practice and determination are the only means to the end: becoming truly great at what you do. Unfortunately, no one can give you any hard and fast answers about how to write better because it is such a personal process and wildly different for everyone. It is something you will discover on your own, using the workshop as a foundation and an inspiration. Here are some suggestions for how to get the most out of the workshop experience:
-Write every day. A few hours is best, but even a few minutes will do. It keeps you in the literary mindset and provides the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them. So much of writing is trying and failing. You will throw away more pages than you keep, but the ones you do keep are golden.
-Treat each writer’s workshop as if it is your own. There is a great deal to learn from others’ missteps and successes. When we’re discussing someone else’s work, ask yourself, what elements of this piece are similar to my own work? What feedback can be applied to my own writing? How can this particular workshop inform my project?
-Pay even closer attention to the way your fellow writers are reading and responding, not only to your work but to each others’. This small group is a representation of your audience. They will teach you how your work will be read.
-When you do get discouraged (which you will), don’t give up. Just keep on truckin’.
Where were you two years ago this November, WriteByNighters? What were you working on? How have you changed as a writer? As a person?