Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Writing Workshops in 2008

One of the most satisfying things I did this year was to run a weekly writing workshop. It was great fun both for me and for the participants and we all, I think, learned a lot.

The idea is very simple. We work with a single page of text (14-point, double-spaced, Times New Roman) which we project onto the overhead screen using Word. We then edit it mercilessly in real time, with everyone making suggestions and asking questions. For many, it is a real eye opener, in regard to both what editing can accomplish and what textual criticism can be.

If there has been a downside it has been in securing regular attendance. This sort of thing has its greatest effect if it is repeated many times and over a significant period. So next semester I'm running 16 workshops in all: two afternoons in a row, every second week. Unlike this year, next year registration will be required. Participants must commit to the whole series.

This is for their own good, of course. They will simply get more out of it if they attend regularly and as part of a disciplined program. It's like writing on a schedule: you can't just do it when you feel like it.

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