A Writing Workshop Primer: What, Where, Why? — Intro


So you’re thinking about attending a writers’ workshop?

Workshops (and/or conferences—I’ll use these terms interchangeably) range from cozy to huge, from little structure to highly structured, from open-to-anything to extremely competitive.

Where to begin? How do you choose?

Feedback / Gerry Wilson

Feedback / Gerry Wilson


Join me starting Wednesday, February 13, for a three-part discussion about writers’ workshops and conferences. Your comments will be vital to the conversation as we talk about assessing individual needs, explore the range of conferences and their pros and cons, and share our experiences.

Before we start, a basic distinction: a workshop or conference is writer-community oriented; you’ll spend your time reading and critiquing each others’ work, attending craft talks, panels, and readings (and maybe a party or two or three). Some conferences are highly specialized, devoted only to publishing, say, or a particular genre, but generally, this writing community is the common model. A retreat is just that: protected time to write with little interruption from the outside world.

Coming in Part One: How to choose a workshop. 

Part Two: conference personalities (they all have one), budget, and benefits

 Part Three: resources to help you find the right conference

Have you attended any writers’ conferences? Tell us a bit about your experience. What worked for you? What didn’t?


14 comments for “A Writing Workshop Primer: What, Where, Why? — Intro

  1. Becca
    February 11, 2013 at 9:11 am

    This is great! I’m really looking forward to these posts. I’m thinking about going to the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York this coming April. It will be my first conference/workshop. I’m pretty excited about it. I hope it all works out so that I can go. Can’t wait to read this series!

    • February 11, 2013 at 11:24 am

      I went to the Writer’s Digest West Conference (in Hollywood) this past year. Good luck in New York, Becca!
      It’ll be great to hear your thoughts on workshops/conferences, Gerry!

      • February 11, 2013 at 7:35 pm

        Jennifer, come back and add to the conversation, since you’ve had some experience. That would be great.

    • February 11, 2013 at 7:34 pm

      Becca, these posts are geared to first-timers, really, so I hope they’ll be helpful. Do check back (Wednesday, Friday, and Monday) for the series, and feel free to ask questions here. The more conversation we have, the more we’ll all learn.

  2. February 11, 2013 at 11:28 am

    I love writer’s conferences – the mix of people, the wealth of information, the energy in the air! I’m going to one in a few weeks and I cannot WAIT.

    One recommendation: research the presenters before you go. Read their bios on the conference website, read their work, and generally brush up on from whom you’re going to learn. They always like it when people recognize their work and you instantly have something to talk about!

    • February 11, 2013 at 7:33 pm

      Lynn, you just about covered what’s coming in Part One on Wednesday! Please check back for that post, and feel free to add to the conversation. Thanks!

  3. Carol Early Cooney
    February 11, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    This is so timely! I am thrilled and look forward to the information. Thanks so much!

    • February 11, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      Carol, thanks! These posts will be pretty general, but it’s a place to start. I hope the info will be helpful.

  4. Amy
    February 11, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    I’ve been to one writer’s conference. It was crazy fun and overwhelming. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
    Looking forward to reading the rest of this series, Gerry. Can’t wait to hear what every one has to say.

  5. February 11, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    The conversation is the thing, Amy! I hope we’ll have good participation.

  6. February 12, 2013 at 12:41 am

    I have been eyeing them, but haven’t yet made my way to one. I expect I will be attending one sometime in the next twelve months. Looking forward to your posts, Gerry!

    • February 18, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      Thanks, Linda! I hope this info will be helpful.

  7. juliatomiak
    February 13, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    I’ve been to the same writers conference for the past three years. It’s a small regional one with several workshops (think lectures) to choose from during the day. The first year I went, I felt very self conscious and uncomfortable. This year, I could look people in the eye and say, “I write young adult fiction and for my Word Nerd blog.” (Yes, I am a writer. Thank you, Jeff Goins.) I enjoy it and learn a lot, but at some point I’d like to attend one where I can get some feedback- looking forward to the series.

    • February 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm

      Julia, your first experiences sound like mine. I believe we gain confidence as we go. Check the resources in Part Three; maybe they’ll lead you to a workshop that’s more craft-centered. Let me know what you find!

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