My First Taste of Writing Workshops

This week I went to my first (and second) writing workshop, and now I’m wondering – why did I never go to one before? They were great.

I chose Birmingham Literature Festival, mainly because it’s one of the first times I’ve seen writing workshops close enough to go to.

The first workshop I went to was Science Fiction for Beginners with Alex Davis. I wasn’t sure about this workshop because I’m more into fantasy than sci-fi. But it was really worth going to, mainly to be among other writers.

We did a few writing exercises around descriptions and world-building, which was kind of daunting. But it gave me a bit of an insight into how writers create their worlds. Since reading The Hobbit I’ve been amazed how JRR Tolkien created his world in so much detail. I have to admit, I was too scared to share my writing.

But I did get some great tips on planning a novel. While we were having a short break I asked Alex Davis about how he plans his novels. I may explain more in a later post, but basically ‘plan until you feel you are ready to write’ was some great advice.

So I’ll start planning – a pretty simple storyline for NaNoWriMo, then my ‘masterpiece’ to get started on.

The second workshop I went to was Productivity for Creative Writers with William Gallagher. I have to admit I wasn’t looking forward to this one. I was tired after work and probably wouldn’t have gone if I hadn’t already paid for it. But that would have been a major mistake.

William Gallagher is a great guy. He told us in the beginning that he couldn’t improve our writing. But by helping us make better use of our time, our writing would improve.

He is a big fan of to-do lists, which I really need to get into. I sort of write some when I can be bothered, but I never check them or tick them off. But he taught us how to write better ones and about checking them, breaking things up into smaller chunks and ticking them off.

Another thing I learnt was ‘do not multi-task.’ We’ve always led to believe that multi-tasking is a skill, and it may be, but when it comes to writing there is no need, in fact it takes more time. It’s probably true for other things. He slightly smugly showed us a couple of tests to prove it. This is the guy he got it from – Dave Crenshaw, who wrote ‘The Myth of Multitasking’.

Overall, I loved these writing workshops. I loved being around writers, I loved learning (I’m an education addict) and I loved the feeling that, although I get off-track sometimes, I’m in the right mind-set to become a successful writer. Let’s just hope my actual writing lives up to it.

Oh, and a bit of advertising here – The Blank Screen by William Gallagher – Buy this book. This guy is great. If his book is anywhere near as good as his workshop, you’ll learn a lot. I will definitely be buying it.

So yeh.. I got a bit of a writing buzz this week. I’m even writing this on a Saturday evening because I’ve been pretty busy this week. Usually I’d just leave it until next week.

Now I’ll be looking out for some more interesting workshops, classes, and maybe even a writing retreat.

FYI- Today was the last day of the Birmingham Literature Festival. But if you didn’t get there, there’s always next year.. or one of the god-knows-how many book-based festivals around the country.


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