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Old 04-01-2009, 07:54 PM   #1
jaxx6166
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Online Writing Workshops

So, I was browsing my local community college paper today and came across several "classes" offered through ed2go

They're listed at $120(USD)/class

Some of the classes I found offered are (in no particular order)

Basic Fiction Writing
Advanced Fiction Writing
Writing Fiction Like a Pro
Writing for Children
Business/Technical Writing
Forensic Science for Writers
Mystery Writing
How to Self-Publish
Magazine Writing
etc. etc.

That got me thinking about several other workshops that are around on the interwebs.

Gotham Writer's Workshop (pretty big in NYC, from what I understand)
Online Writing Workshop
Clarion Online (no longer offered, unfortunately)

Has anyone had any experience with these, or thought about taking these types of classes?
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Old 04-02-2009, 12:56 AM   #2
Jill75
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I have long wanted to improve my writing skills and looking at online writing workshops but am hesitant. Anyone have tried online writing classes? How are they? How did improve your writing skills? Thanks!
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Old 04-02-2009, 09:15 AM   #3
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The problem with writing workshops is that they're full of writers

All joking aside, writers develop their own methodologies and best practices over time, they lean toward one teacher or approach and that then becomes their 'way'. When you get a lot of writers together, you get a lot of opinion on what is best, and a lot of misplaced certainty. But writing isn't scientific, it's emotional, what works for one may not work for another.

I've been part of, and taught a few writing workshops, and in my experience writers are usually the worst people in the world to get advice from. What you want is 'readers', those who don't want to know about story structure, character development or plotting. Those to whom those concepts are quite alien. A writer will see flaws where there are none, they will compare and contrast and pick apart the seams that are seamless to the reader.

I know I sound quite down on these workshops, but I've found that to some, especially the shy, this approach can turn them off writing for a long time. Who knows what great stories and personal approaches we've lost over time to the opinionated teacher or the cruel critic.

My opinion, and this is heavily biased from years of writing and millions of bad words put down on paper, there are only 2 books that a writer needs in their library. One is for inspiration, the other is for the nuts and bolts of the craft.

Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing
and
Dwight V Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer.

After you've digested those two books you'll find writing to be quite easy and pleasurable. Most importantly though, trust in your passions, let slip your worst fears and greatest loves. In the end, that's all anyone can ask of you as a writer.
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Old 04-02-2009, 09:36 AM   #4
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I was in one of the Granddaddies of on-line writing workshops, the Compuserve SF SIG Workshop, run by Sasha Miller. It was very informative and I learned a lot both from Sasha and the other participants. Can't say that I learned all that much from her assistant, whose name escapes me. He was a "D" level SF writer who thought he was Harlan Ellison's upcoming replacement. He once told me "I get really tired fo reading untalented writing, but get especially tired of reading un-funny untalented writing." I dropped out after that.

I've developed a much thicker skin since then, and have also taken loads of psychotherapy courses wherein I can now envision the cutting remarks that I did not have in stock back then. Such as, "How do you ever get up to writing in the mornings, then?"

Anyway, that obviously painful memory aside, I felt that the experience was useful.
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Old 04-02-2009, 10:38 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pshrynk View Post
I was in one of the Granddaddies of on-line writing workshops, the Compuserve SF SIG Workshop, run by Sasha Miller. It was very informative and I learned a lot both from Sasha and the other participants. Can't say that I learned all that much from her assistant, whose name escapes me. He was a "D" level SF writer who thought he was Harlan Ellison's upcoming replacement. He once told me "I get really tired fo reading untalented writing, but get especially tired of reading un-funny untalented writing." I dropped out after that.

I've developed a much thicker skin since then, and have also taken loads of psychotherapy courses wherein I can now envision the cutting remarks that I did not have in stock back then. Such as, "How do you ever get up to writing in the mornings, then?"

Anyway, that obviously painful memory aside, I felt that the experience was useful.
That's the problem. Writer's can be delicate and emotional people, and I wouldn't want it any other way, it only takes one inconsiderate know-it-all to crush that passion inside someone. And in the end its only opinion. Nobody really knows what makes one form of writing good over another, it's too personal to judge, and can change from day to day, depending on your mood.

Find your passion, find what 'you' want to say, what excites you, and ignore the nay-sayers, the nit-pickers and the self-appointed experts. Honest and passionate creation is priceless.
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Old 04-02-2009, 12:18 PM   #6
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An off-hand, poor remark may cut deeply but part of the workshops are about finding your voice and how to communicate it, and also to have confidence in it. It doesn't do you any good to put your thoughts and ideas down in a medium if no one wants to read it.

Perhaps the terrifying thing to any prospective writer, let alone someone who wants to make a living at it, is seeing the number of talented writers who can't get (traditionally) published to save their very own lives, or make enough in new media to cover advertising costs. If they review their own writing, and feel it needs improvement, the comparison is itself a daunting prospect to overcome: "If more talented/polished/experienced authors can't get an audience, how will I?" At least with a writing workshop, you know that someone will read your work and give you honest, if biased, review. And knowing whether or not you connect with your audience, get your message across, keep the attention of the audience is crucial; but, also, is answering the question "if you didn't, why didn't you?" For this, readers are often the hands-down worst people to ask as they project their own latent construction desires, but writers can spot mechanical flaws, relate past similar problems and solutions, etc.

A mix of viewpoints is needed.

The risk of crushed passion is likely worth the opportunity for ignited passion.
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