In February 2013 I began my own personal writing workshop in an effort to improve my writing and learn more about the craft. I designed this workshop for myself because my personal situation (with two young children at home and somewhat constrained finances) prevented me from attending workshops conducted by other organizations. Instead of lament the circumstances I decided to make lemonade, and I created The Write Edge Yearlong Writing Workshop. It first had its home on my main blog, The Write Edge.
The Workshop functioned on a two-pronged approach: 1) read books about writing by respected leaders in the field and 2) practice writing every week by finding writing prompts online as the springboard for new short stories. Admittedly, in the beginning I found the writing part to be easier, but the reading aspect proved just as necessary. I read some insightful books that have helped me think deeper and longer about the stories I want to pursue. You can go here for the full reading list as well as some snippets of the books and what I felt about them.
I found the writing portion of the Workshop easier in practice but challenging in its own right. Successful writers discipline themselves to write for a specified amount of time every week, and sometimes I didn’t feel like it or wasn’t in the mood to do so. Regardless of how I felt, I wrote. When I go back now I can identify the half-hearted attempts after a few sentences, but I’m proud of the fact that I kept to task. With the exception of a cross country move in the summer, I managed to post new writing almost every week in 2013.
In an effort to continue learning and getting better, I launched this blog to build on the first phase of The Workshop. This year will bring Phase 2, which will focus on a multi-step approach: 1) read more books on writing, 2) continue with the weekly prompts for the first and second weeks of the month (and the third, if a particular month has five Mondays,) 3) use one of my favorite stories from the 2013 Workshop and an additional story idea and develop these into larger stories, posting these new additions to the stories in the third and fourth (or fourth and fifth, as the case may be) weeks of the month, and 4) NaNoWriMo 2014.
You can explore the pages above to find the short stories from Year 1 of The Workshop. You’ll also find pages for the longer works I will develop in Year 2 based on the tools I’ve gained through the reading portion. Not only do these stories give me an opportunity to pursue new ideas, but also I’m going with the “pantser” approach to them — that is, I won’t do any outlining or planning. I’ll simply write what happens next as it comes to me.
Want to know what I’m writing in the weeks I’m not working on the Long Stories? Every Thursday I’ll post the writing prompts I’m considering for the following Monday. And if you’ve decided to take the cold shock plunge of NaNoWriMo 2014 with me — or are even remotely considering it — click here for my own plans for this coming November.
I appreciate you stopping by the blog today and hope you find it inspirational as well as useful and maybe even entertaining. And if you’d like to design your own Workshop or follow mine, please don’t hesitate to do so and let me know about it. I would love to find more people dedicated to the purpose of this blog: exercising the craft.