How to Get the Most Out of a Workshop

by Director

Time is always valuable to the creative writing workshop environment—even more so if the workshop has high enrollment and a tight schedule. If you have ever taken a creative writing workshop at a university, you know that even with fourteen or fifteen weeks, it can be a challenge to work through more than a few pieces per writer. To get the most out of your workshops abroad or at your local college or university, the Prague Summer Program has a few helpful suggestions.

Procedure and Faculty

At the beginning of your workshop, your instructor will let you know their workshop rules for engagement. For example, it is common for an instructor to request absolute silence from the author as their poetry or fiction is discussed amongst the class. You should always get to know your instructors approach. Ask questions, don’t make assumptions, and familiarize yourself with the poetry or fiction of your instructor. Our time in the creative writing workshop can be used more efficiently when we understand workshop expectations and gain perspective on our teachers as artists.

Know Your Work

Workshops will improve any work, if the writer takes the time to understand their strengths and limitations. Investigate your writing. Be honest. Before you enter a creative writing workshop, try to identify strengths and weaknesses in your writing, do your best to make sure you can articulate how you understand these strengths and weaknesses, and make sure your instructor knows how you view your work. No matter what level of skill or how much passion you put into your writing, giving your instructor an accurate, honest self-assessment of your work can lead to a more productive workshop with achievable, tangible goals. The more you give your instructor, the more you will get.

Be Mindful

Take notes. Always take notes. If your writing is being discussed, take more notes. If you notice any key terms, repeated concepts, or if a discussion is particularly engaging, write down everything you can. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat what they have said if you find yourself intrigued.

If you’re looking for more creative writing workshop tips, the PSP Blog has more useful suggestions here.