It's not just a book thing!

Don’t Panic (A Guide To Surviving Writing Workshops)

Away from the glamour of the LitFest’s headline events, a number of workshops will give scribblers young and old the chance to sweat it out with some rigorous writing exercises and energetic discussion. Whether you are a novelist on the verge of your big breakthrough or a poet who just picked up a pen last week, here’s what you need to know to help get the most out of these valuable opportunities.

Maybe you’re only just starting out. Perhaps you’re not even at that stage, and you’re just toying with the idea of starting out. Either way, the LitFest workshops can help you along the way – you’ll be spurred on to get something down on paper beforehand, get some great feedback on your work and have chance to make connections with other local writers. Plus, you’ll pick up some tips from proven authors (see below for dates and details).

When you are taking your first steps, attending a workshop can seem like a daunting idea. Remember that everyone is attending with the same goal in mind, which is to improve their writing through discussion. You may be nervous about sharing your work with a group but, like bees, your fellow workshop attendees are just as scared of you as you are of them.

No one ever feels entirely comfortable setting up their highly personal endeavours to be picked apart, but this is a great chance to collect some responses to your writing – the experts and your fellow workshop attendees will be hearing/reading your work for the first time and can offer a fresh perspective on it.

Workshops are pretty safe places, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be casualties along the way – in improving your writing, there are certain to be some elements of your work which you are best advised to cast aside. These are often the parts which you have become most attached to, similarly you may find that people praise parts of your work about which you are not so confident. Be open-minded when it comes to criticism, but remember that it is your work and ultimately you have the final say.

Listen to feedback and try to offer any helpful insights you can. It might be a cliché but when it comes to workshops, the more you put in, the more you get out. It is in the nature of the LitFest that these events attract people who are at completely different stages in their writing lives. Remember that you can learn just as much from discussion of your fellow attendees’ works so keep your ears open at all times, and take notes.

Most importantly, enjoy your writing.

Matthew Hall hosts ‘Structuring Crime Fiction’ on Friday 14th September 14.00-16.30.

M R Hall © Alexander James

Marina Lewycka hosts ‘Finding Your Voice As A Writer’ on Saturday 15th September 10.00-12.30.

Marina Lewycka © Ben McMillan

Chuma Nwokolo hosts ‘Short Story Writing- Make Flash Fiction Fly’ on Sunday 16th  September 10.00-12.00.

Chuma Nwokolo © Andrew Ogilvy

All of the above take place at Les Cotils, book online at


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This entry was posted on July 29, 2012 by and tagged , , , , .
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