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kcvale
01-08-2010, 07:58 PM
I want to start attending workshops and conferences. But how do you decide which ones are worth attending?
There's a workshop coming up in my area and the topic sounds good but I googled the instructor and checked out Amazon.com. Her actual writing credentials are not inspiring. According to Amazon she has authored only 3 books one of which is a how-to book that received 5 stars out of 5 reviews. 1 book is a collection with several other writers that received one 5 star review and 1 book, authored alone, that received one 3 star review. She is also credited as being an online writing instructor.

So how do you choose which workshops to spend your money on?

kc

Birol
01-08-2010, 08:04 PM
What you have to ask out of any experience: workshop, retreat, or conference, is what do you want to get out of it? Are you going to learn or enhance some aspect of your writing? Are you looking for time to write free from distractions? Do you want to network?

Exir
01-08-2010, 08:04 PM
Sometimes the best writers make for crappy teachers and mediocre writers make for great teachers.

CaroGirl
01-08-2010, 08:06 PM
The first writing class I took was given by someone, it turned out, who had almost no credentials I could discover. I stuck with the course anyway and, while I don't think she taught me much per se, I met a bunch fellow writers and we went on to form a critique group that continues to this day (more than 5 years later). Sometimes the connections you make are worth it, no matter the quality of the instructor. That said, don't spend big bucks you can't afford on an unproven workshop; the course I took was very cheap.

Jamesaritchie
01-08-2010, 09:21 PM
Talk to pro writers who know about the workshop. Look around online for agent and editor opinions, etc.

Most workshops aren't worth a penny, but a few are worth any price.

But one that is great for writer A may be lousy for writer B, so you really have to ask around.

Robert E. Keller
01-08-2010, 09:51 PM
Just like anything else, workshops can be used as a money-making scam. Always check the reputation of the workshop you plan to attend. If it has a good reputation, that will show up as you poke around the internet and talk to people. Ignorance is the friend of the scam artist, knowledge the dire enemy.

Christine N.
01-08-2010, 10:08 PM
Also check with the organizations for the type of books you write. SCBWI (children and YA authors and illustrators professional organization) has chapters all over the country, and most run some very popular and great workshops. I'm going to one next week, where I get a one-on-one crit from a NYC editor at Penguin, plus we all crit each other's work, and there's a first page crit. It's a bit pricey, but usually cheaper if you're a member of the organization.

The Pocono Retreat, run by the PA chapter, is something people come to from hundreds of miles around.

So check with the Professional organization of your genre, if there is one.

kcvale
01-09-2010, 04:01 AM
Thanks for the good advice. As much as I'd like to network I need more from a workshop. I'm not sure that this workshop has much more than that to offer. kc

Jamesaritchie
01-09-2010, 07:35 AM
Just remember that workshops are not necessary for success. You don't have to go to them, many, many, many sucessful writers never attended a workshop until after they were famous and invited. And there are much better ways of spending money, if your goal is learning how to write well.

nevada
01-09-2010, 08:35 AM
Here's something to keep in mind. Years ago i went to a conference. An international one with amazing top writers and went to some great classes. learned tons. havent written seriously since. it completely killed me. I don't know why, but i'm not the only one. Elizabeth Beard blogged about it happening to her, and Corey L Doctorow was severely struck by the same. Yes, I had a great time, yes i learned stuff, yes it was amazing to hang out with a hotel full of writers and yes it killed any drive I had. So maybe start small. Find just a workshop that goes one or two days. I took a two day Donald Maass workshop that inspired me to do some great writing. Before the conference obviously. Just a different view of conferences.

Sevvy
01-09-2010, 07:05 PM
Here's something to keep in mind. Years ago i went to a conference. An international one with amazing top writers and went to some great classes. learned tons. havent written seriously since.

I'm usually drained after workshop myself, and I definitely don't start working on the piece I submitted for workshop for a while afterward (sometimes months), so this above can happen to people.

Since it's something you would have to pay for, if you're not 100% sure about it, you may want to pass. I've had some less than productive workshops, but I still got stuff out of them (even if it wasn't what I originally went there for), so I've never considered a workshop a waste of my time. There are very few instances where people have to read your work, and workshop is one of them, and getting another perspective on your writing is great. But if you aren't loving the idea of this one, then keep looking around for one you do like.

kcvale
01-09-2010, 11:52 PM
Here's something to keep in mind. Years ago i went to a conference. An international one with amazing top writers and went to some great classes. learned tons. havent written seriously since. it completely killed me. I don't know why, but i'm not the only one. Elizabeth Beard blogged about it happening to her, and Corey L Doctorow was severely struck by the same. Yes, I had a great time, yes i learned stuff, yes it was amazing to hang out with a hotel full of writers and yes it killed any drive I had. So maybe start small. Find just a workshop that goes one or two days. I took a two day Donald Maass workshop that inspired me to do some great writing. Before the conference obviously. Just a different view of conferences.

Funny you should say this, I went to my very first conference a couple of years ago, and it was wonderful, but I haven't done much writing since then. Just a few false starts here and there. I never made any connection. Just figured I had a short circuit in my sit-in-chair wiring. Though I'd been doing pretty well pre-conference. Better safe than sorry. It's a definite no go!