Thursday, May 28, 2009

Teach to learn

The purple lady is me, presenting a workshop on manga.

On June 13, 2009 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m in Twin Falls, Idaho I'll be presenting a two hour workshop on Writing the Short Story. This is not my first workshop, nor will it be my last. I also attend workshops, including Margie Lawson's on June 6 in Boise. For myself, I find teaching to be more valuable than attending. Not that I don't learn tons from being a student, but the old adage that if you really want to learn something then teach it is true for me. I've been remembering all sorts of things about writing the short story (my first love) plus learning new things as I prepare the class.

Do you, gentle reader, attend workshops? Teach workshops? Both? If so, what are your experiences? If not, why not?


Jim Murdoch said...

About ten years ago I had a job as an IT trainer which I enjoyed but it was very much one-on-one teaching and then they asked me to design a course teaching call centre techniques, which I did but it involved a lot of standing in front of a class beside a flip chart and I hated it. I was already overworked but it was the straw that broke the camel's back and I gave into depression and went on the sick. I have no problem giving a talk before an audience but it was the intimacy of the teaching and the fact they could chip in at any time and ask me awkward questions. Which is why I'd never try and teach a writing course. The subject is immense. I find it hard enough from the safety of a blog and look what happened to my last one, did I not run into a woman who actually knew real live Tibetans.

As for taking a course, it's not that I don't think you can teach writing technique because I believe you can but I've never felt I needed it. That doesn't make me a know-it-all but I am comfortable with what I have. Everyone can be improved but I'd rather get a book and do the work in private. Besides I can't actually ever remember seeing such a thing advertised anywhere locally. There must be them. I've seen writers' holidays but that would involve going some place and what if I didn't feel like writing that weekend? The whole idea of it makes me shudder.

Conda Douglas said...

Oh my, Jim, you're the opposite of me! I'm gregarious. And you're so right about teaching, there's always somebody--and on your blog last time it was me!

This is true when I teach my exercise classes. I had a gal once tell me she couldn't do abdominal exercises because the doctors had removed all her stomach muscles (they'd add a mesh screen to repair a hernia). When I explained that if she didn't have any muscles her guts would tumble out, she didn't believe me!

Dave King said...

I have both taken and attended numerous workshops on a host of subjects, but not on Creative Writing. I do still occasionally attend workshops on photography. The trick is to find the one that exactly fits your requirements, though I have never failed to get something even from the most disappointing. The best are up there in the stratosphere.

Swubird said...


I have conducted a few seminars, but that was along time ago. I loved it. And you are so right, you can learn a ton by teaching.

Happy trails.

Lynda Lehmann said...

Congrats on your workshop, Conda. Hope it went smoothly for you.

I have not taken writing workshops per se, although I have a friend who goes to writers' conventions a couple of time a year. I did attend one convention of romance writers, on Long Island, although that is not my genre.

But I DID take two years of correspondence courses at The Institute of Children's Literature, and feel I learned a lot.

I also participated on an online writers workshop for fantasy, horror and sci fi authors. That was well run and a lot of fun!!! I had 26 critiques from all over the world on one of my horror stories!

Conda Douglas said...

Dave, yes, it is a mixed bag and for myself, for attending workshops, I've found that sometimes it also depends on what level I'm on at the time and even my energy and mood levels.

Conda Douglas said...

Swu--it's never too late to teach and from reading your blog I know you're great at it!

Conda Douglas said...

Lynda I adore the Internet for the reason that we can have far flung critique groups and great blogs to visit--like yours!

Helen Ginger said...

I've done both, Conda. I love to teach more than take a class. And I agree with you - I learn more by teaching.

Straight From Hel

Conda Douglas said...

Yeah, Helen, I find that you HAVE to focus and HAVE to make it logical when you teach! And coming up with apt examples helps me learn as well...just a couple of the things I've noticed while prepping this class.