Welcome to Day 12 of the totally unofficial EWF Book Club.
And – our second big week!
It’s been really fantastic to see the ‘comment’ firing up with discussion and many of our writers are sending in contributions. Some posts have also been updated now with writer submissions that weren’t ready ‘on the day’. For example – Walter Mason sent in some brilliant thoughts/tips – and a photo!
Today it’s time to make a cup of tea, and be on our best behaviour…
Today we discuss Laurie Steed’s Dos and Don’ts of Workshop Etiquette.
This is fantastic! So many laughs; so many ‘rules’ that are obviously based on real-life situations with very rude, very stupid people.
“Discussing etiquette at writers’ workshops is a bit like discussing opera at a Nickelback concert. Writers have egos. Big snarling Paris Hilton-sized egos.”
I love the way Laurie hits us with a pretty obvious headline, then absolutely nails the dos, the don’ts, and the don’t-you-dare-or-someone-will-kill-yous. And then he finishes with advice on (what I feel is) something pretty tricky… balancing ‘what you take onboard’ with ‘what you need to decide yourself’.
“Regardless of the feedback you receive, you’ll still have to make certain decisions about your work… these decisions are empowering, at the purest level.”
Laurie was kind enough to share his thoughts behind the piece…
Any writer who wants to master their craft will, at some point, have to seek other people’s thoughts on a story’s strengths or weaknesses. In seeking said thoughts, one hopes to find similarly minded writers eager to assist you, and all while improving their own work in the process.
In writing my article for The Emerging Writer I wanted to explore the myths and preconceptions about workshops. Having been invited to Iowa, the spiritual home of the Writers’ Workshop, it seemed apt to reflect on both their benefits and limitations.
Most of what I said in the article is common sense and yet, it’s strangely uncommon in many writers’ workshops. Since attending Iowa, I see workshopping as a fundamental part of story revision. I live in Perth, Western Australia, which has fewer practicing writers than say New York or Paris. Given that, I workshop online through a US based portal. I’d rather meet face-to-face with other like-minded writers in my hometown, but at the present time, that’s not a viable option.
One final thought on workshopping: if you’re a serious writer, and thus dedicated to creating the best work you possibly can, then it makes sense (provided you’ve drafted the work extensively) to get a fresh perspective. It’s much more difficult to go it alone. In sharing our vision we encourage others to do the same, pooling resources, discussing the craft and feeling mutually supported as we take the long road towards creating memorable, innovative fiction.
What did you get out of Dos and Don’ts of Workshop Etiquette?
Hit the comments below!
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Thanks for joining the totally unofficial EWF book group – see you tomorrow!