The Inner-Workings Of Writing Workshops

The Inner-Workings Of Writing Workshops

And why you as the fabulous writer you are should go to them.
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What is a writing workshop?

Just like you'd go to a workshop to create or repair a product, writers go to literary workshops to get critiques and suggestions on their latest work.

I've taken multiple creative writing workshop courses while attending Purdue, and they've all basically worked the same way: I distribute my fiction or poetry piece to a group of beta readers (non-professional readers who search out plot, structure, or grammatical errors; in my case, other students in the class), and in a week, we meet again and they walk me through what they perceive as the successes and pitfalls of my manuscript.

Why is it important to workshop pieces?

"If beta readers are not professionals, and all they're doing is just giving their subjective opinion on your works, why does working with them matter at all?"

I'm glad you asked. When you attend workshops, you're most likely going to collaborate with other writers by gaining their feedback and giving feedback to them on the projects their working on. This is significant for two main reasons:

  1. You can learn something from other unique writing styles
  2. They represent your future readers

Expanding on Reason #1 - as writers, we develop our own writing style; this can include certain ways of styling sentence structures, punctuation, dialogue, and characterization. While it's important to cultivate and nurture your distinct way of writing, if you're not careful, it can become repetitive and predictable to the reader. By observing and practicing the styles of another (not outright copying, but practicing), you can vary the format of your writing in surprising and interesting ways.

Expanding on Reason #2 - Beta readers, essentially, represent the future readers of your work; they'll ask the questions your target readers may ask if something doesn't make sense, they'll give you a general sample of what readers may or may not like, and that can be extremely useful information to refer to during the revising and editing stages of writing. Although it's true that not all of your beta readers will agree on what's good and what's not, they can give you a general direction of where problems seem to stem from in your pieces.

All in all, workshops are a great way to learn and grow with a community of aspiring writers, gain connections, and are definitely worth looking into if you want to take your writing to the next level.

Keeping it local:

If you're a student at Purdue and are interested in taking an English course that explores workshop writing, I've added the link to all Purdue English courses here - check them out! The course descriptions should let you know if workshops will be incorporated into the curriculum. I'd personally suggest taking Introduction to Creative Writing if workshops, or even writing for an audience, is new to you.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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Five Tips to Get on Top of Your 2019: Tech Editions

Yeah, there's an app for that.

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Technology is the course of the future, why not use it to get on top of your new year? Make 2019 the year you stop sleeping on these great productivity apps and get grinding! Best part, all the apps I've included here are free.

Google Calendar.

Look at that beauty.

I LOVE Google Calendar! Not only is it a great tool to map out your week, it comes with cool features. You can color code tasks and events, get text reminders and so much more. You can even sync your calendar with other people's (this is very helpful for roommates or study buddies).

Google Doc File Folders

Crying.

Sick of that long list of documents in your Google Docs? You can make file folders to organize all of your docs!

Momentum Chrome Extension

This is by far my favorite productivity app. It's a Chrome extension that acts as a home page whenever you open a new window or tab. It comes complete with the weather, a motivational quote and a to-do list! The best feature is their "main focus for the day". It keeps you grounded for sure- especially when it pops up with every tab and forces you to think about all you need to accomplish.

Wunderlist

This is a to-do list on steroids- definitely worth checking out!

Todist

A to-do list app for your phone! I love this just to organize what my top priorities are.

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