What kinds of classes, programs, or workshops have you taken to hone your skill as a writer? What sorts of exercises did/do you use to improve? Have you ever taught a writing class or workshop?
In yesterday’s post I wrote studying Professional Writing and Editing, and the subjects on offer allowed me to explore writing genres I may otherwise have never considered and included, such as Myths & Symbols, Screenwriting, Design & layout, etc. all of which add to the writer’s toolkit. This appetite for learning led me to just about any writing or poetry workshop that came within a whisper of where I lived, mostly useful, others less so but what I did find most valuable with all was the opportunity to mix with and learn from other writers, some of whom remain friend- in-writing after more than a decade.
It’s said the greatest teacher can be our own experience; however, some of my most valued lessons have come from listening to other writers, which has helped me to avoid many mistakes made by the emerging writer. And this brings me to best and most frequently offered advice, to listen.
To listen to the experience of others, for even negative experiences have something to offer.
To listen to the conversations of others, alert for changes in dialect, idioms etc. that can be used in dialogue or forming characters.
To listen to the sounds of nature and everyday life so these can be translated into our poetry and writing.
As a writing group facilitator and mentor, this is something I pass on to other writers, to open all the senses and stop, look and listen and draw on the miniscule of life when writing. On the my favourite workshops to run is one I devised a few years ago, Urban Writing – write about the place, an interactive workshop in which places and events, both ordinary and extraordinary, are written about in the genre of choice; poetry or short story form. Where participants take time to look at the detail in everyday places and use different approaches and effects to describe the mundane as well as the magnificent.