Saturday, April 7, 2007

Why workshops aren't work

Sometimes I get asked: "You're a published author, why do you spend money and time on workshops?"

Okay, all you creative types out there reading this are moaning, I can hear it, loud and clear. But it's a great question, really, and not just an indication of the cluelessness of the asker.

So why attend workshops? What do I get out of them now? After all, I've been to a bazillion of 'em, and they worked--I'm published and published. So why spend the money and the time to go? Why not use the time, money, energy for something else--like submitting a manuscript or writing a new story, or buying more paper, or instead of Donald Maass' excellent, superb intensive workshop, going on vacation or buying a new computer!

Good points, huh? Or at least on the surface--only taking a workshop in writing, (like any other creative pursuit, I suspect) is completely different from taking a workshop in the newest version of Excel, or one in worker productivity in the workplace, or--well, you get the idea.

I think this is because workshops for creative endeavors are not only about something that is completely subjective--but because we learn differently when it's something creative. We use a different part of the brain, a part that almost needs to be disengaged from the "logical" side to engage. Read "Drawing on the Left Side of the Brain" for more of what I'm talking about.

All I know is, every workshop I've attended has done several wonderful things for me. I've always left energized and re-focused on my work. I've learned important things from each workshop that have improved my writing. My ideas come faster and stronger after a workshop and I'm more effective with expressing those ideas. And last, but not least, it's always a blast being with like-minded (crazy for loving to write) people.

So why not go to every workshop you can find? Something about that in the next post.

HINT: If you live in a remote place where it's costly to travel to a major city for a workshop and/or you're a starving artist like far too many of us, there are online workshops available that are inexpensive and excellent. No, it's not quite the same as pressing the flesh with warm fuzzy looney-people, but online workshops do provide even more one-on-one with an instructor through e-mail.

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