The 3 essential things never taught at writing workshops

I’ve been invited countless times to join writing workshops and as tempting as it seems, I’ve refrain from them for the very reason that I know I may not learn much from them. Partly due to the fact that almost everything you want to learn about writing can be gleamed from the internet or talking to fellow writers or merely hanging out with very opinionated people.

I believe there are several things that writing workshops fail to teach good meaning people who want to jump-start their writing career and I’ll list them here as I think of them. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a workshop basher, heck I run workshops to teach educators how to use technology in their teaching learning practices, but I just want you to think deeply on the need for you to spill out money on a writing workshop when at the end of the day, you gain nothing.

The Passion to write
Passion to write is not a skill. You either have it or don’t. Passion cannot be bought neither can it be given to you in a manual or guidebook. It is birth from within a person’s soul and springs forth in actions that pulsates with the energy from that passion. You look at your book as if it was a new born babe, learning to talk and walk. You want to see it to adulthood, to bring joy to the millions or the few that read it. Such enthusiasm cannot be taught, it exists. Passion can be passed on from another passionate person to another, provided that the other person shares the same passion.

The Art of the Lonely Walk
Writing is a lonely affair and as you embark on it, you will find that for long periods you are essentially on you own. Alone. Alone with your creation as it unfolds and the only person who truly sees the significance of what you write is you. No-one else sees or knows what that gem of a book will be like. The Lonely Walk of a writer is primarily that – lonely. Occasionally, you may meet other pilgrims on that lonely road and you may share a thought or two but then its back to being alone. They don’t teach this at writing workshop 101.

Breaking the Rules
After spending a week at a workshop that taught you every trick in the book to make money writing, you’ll realize that merely applying the rules or laws of writing would not generate that next best-seller. After telling you about the rules did they mention that you can break the rules? Or even better; make your own rules? As an author, the book you write is an extension of your personality. It’s you speaking to the masses. Can rules be put in place to govern personality? Can you box your voice in a particular shape and still be true to yourself? They teach you so much yet at the end of the day, the ones that make it big actually break every rule written and invent their own rules.

So there you have it, the three (3) that I can think of when it comes to Writing Workshop that teach you nothing. Any model that you adopt is merely that- a model. It may help you shape your book but it can never birth the book into existence. The book still rest in the mind of the writer and only the writer holds the key to unlocking the dormant book.

Personally, I read a book by Robert McKee – Story ; given to me by best friend (thanks Sam) and read Nicholas Sparks comments on his website and just wing it from there when writing my first book. Mind you I was writing while learning the art of the craft. Once the draft was done, I sent query emails to 38 literary agents (some turned me down, others never got any reply). Eventually, I emailed a local publisher and sent my manuscript in for review and got accepted. Hard work, dumb luck and shooting in the dark kind of paid off for me. I hope you had better luck then me.


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2 Responses to The 3 essential things never taught at writing workshops

  1. sastroasmoro says:

    Very nice post. I actually start to write a trilogy novel on February 2008 and until now I only done about 80 pages of the first book.

    Writing is about passion, I have the idea in my head but I need the passion to write, and it’s not came everyday!

    And sure, about breaking the rule to write something different, thats what I try to do right now.

    Wait for your another great post…. 🙂

  2. vroom says:

    what if, just what if.. i had the passion to write couple of years ago.. and it disappeared one day, in which i am unable to write like i used to, the passion ‘ran away..’ is there anyway i can help myself get over this phase? cause seriously i love writing i love writing more than playing basketball or watch soccer/football! even though the poems i written were depressing because of how i used to feel and i kind of got over the depressing days i didn’t like how depressing they were.. any suggestions?

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