Tips for a Leading a Writers Workshop: Part 2 – Preparation

image by picjumbo_com

If you have a passion for effective writing concepts, consider turning them into workshops you can share with others.

Here are tips to help you prepare a successful workshop.

6 Tips for Preparing a Writers Workshop

1. Start presenting at small venues and move up to conferences.

I started giving workshops at my local writers group. After each presentation, I honed the workshop and slides from what I learned. I moved on to workshops at libraries and then to one-day writers conferences. For a large writers’ organization, I’m leading a month-long online workshop.

To develop a workshop’s content, try writing blog posts on the topics you want to cover.

2. Restrict the number of topics covered to what easily fits the presentation’s time limit.

Err on the side of finishing early. Build in time for questions, exercises, and unplanned tidbits.

I have a workshop that offers fun techniques to improve scenes. The first time I gave the presentation I ran out of time, partly because I thought I had ten minutes more than I actually had. In preparing for a second workshop on this material, I realized five techniques were too many. One was more complicated and less fun than the others. I cut that technique. The improvement supported the saying, “kill your darlings.”

3. Include examples and stories.

image by geralt

Many participants need applications to understand principles. They enjoy hearing stories that support ideas. Stories are a welcome break from stretches of listenig to information.

During lunch for one engagement, I told the woman beside me I’d appreciate feedback on the maiden launch of my presentation. She said, “Don’t cut any of your stories.”

4. Prepare slides that don’t overwhelm participants.

Limit word count on a slide to 40 words. Break up a 120-word slide into three. To send participants a cohesive document later, turn the slides into a document that puts dot points on one topic together.

For detailed teachings, include examples.

Provide simple tables, graphs, or screenshots to show a process’s steps.

image by jarmoluk

To break up the monotony of words, choose photos that complement your points. Make sure your photos belong to you or come from sites that give permission to use them. I use free images on Pixabay.

Slides should have plenty of “white” space. Make backgrounds a light neutral color. It’s easier on participants’ eyes than stark white.

5. Offer documents participants can review at home.

Convert slides to a PDF or Word document to email later to those participants who request them. During the class, supply a one- to two-page handout to jot notes on.

I recently attended a writers conference. Packed into seventy-five minutes, each workshop offered rivers of information, principles, tips, and examples. I tensed trying to listen, process, and take decent notes. When the presenters promised to send the slides or handouts to us, I relaxed, listened intently, and jotted a few supporting notes.

6. Besides practicing, time your presentation.

I time talks at least twice to learn how much time they use. After I start my stopwatch, I speak calmly and slowly. If there’s not sufficient time for speaking, questions, exercises, and extra tidbits, I tighten my presentation. Knowing I have plenty of time for my talk is huge in how calm I am during the workshop.

Part 2 – tips for leading a writers workshop – preparation. Click to tweet.

What questions or workshop preparation stories do you have?

Amazon Link

Amanda Larrowe’s lack of trust sabotages her relationships. The English teacher and award-winning author of middle-grade adventure books for boys has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her January 2 book deadline. Now, in the deepest snow accumulation Richmond, Virginia has experienced in years, Camden Lancaster moves in across the street. After ten years, her heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high school Valentine’s Day date. He may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his likeability doesn’t instill trust in Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy is she wrong.

7 Tips to Generate Blog Post Ideas

image by geralt
image by geralt

When we start a blog, we’re told we need to write about something we can sustain over time. Have you written so many blog posts it seems like you’ve covered everything in your field of interest?

I’m on my 206th how-to blog post, but I’m still able to find ideas for posts. Coming up with ideas may be less difficult for you who write journal-type blog posts, but these tips may help you too.

I write posts on writing, blogging, and speaking. You may write blogs on everything about horses, quilting, photography, or gardening. Whatever your field is, these tips should work for you.

Tips to Try

 

image by geralt
image by geralt

Tip 1: In the process of writing or building my platform, I schedule various tasks. When I’m looking for a post idea, I ask myself, “What am I working on now?” My answer is what is most beneficial for me to research and write a blog post on. Try asking yourself that question.

Here are examples of blog posts I’ve written from projects on which I was currently working.

How to:

  • have a successful book signing
  • fix an unlikeable character
  • write discussion questions for a novel
  • enlist endorsers/write an endorsement for another author
  • write a book based on blog posts
  • plot a story using the Hero’s Journey
  • give an editor a pitch for your story
  • present an engaging speech
  • add humor to your story
image by geralt
image by geralt

Tip 2: When I’m invited to teach writing workshops, I create posts on the content I’ve prepared for those events. If you teach, speak, or lead workshops in your field, your preparation work may provide enough content for multiple posts.

 

Tip 3: Sometimes I review past posts I’ve written. Often a different angle on a subject comes to mind. Rewrites incorporating something new are perfect for posts.

Tip 4: When I’m not working on something new, I peruse my issues of Writer’s Digest and my writing-craft books for blog ideas. Once I find a fresh idea, I research the subject further from articles online.

A benefit: you can apply the fresh idea to your work in your field. An example of how a post helped me improve my manuscript was: how to add suspense to any genre.

Tip 5: When I attend writers’ conferences, workshops usually inspire several ideas. Be alert to ideas at your next conference or interest-group meeting.

image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images
image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images

Tip 6: When I give back to others in my field, I receive ideas. For example, I judged 9 stories for a contest. I observed common areas of weak writing. I wrote a post on those. Also, my blog readers have asked me to cover certain subjects.

Tip 7: For me, I ask God to guide me. Then as I follow the above tips, I come across writing topics I want to know more about. After I research the ideas, I have fodder for posts.

Are you running out of blog post ideas? Try these 7 tips. Click to tweet.

How do you come up with blog post ideas?

Your Author Event Was NOT a Failure

“One fails forward toward success.” — Charles F. Kettering

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I share the story of my meet-the-author library event for one purpose:

Don’t bemoan the poor response to your author event; look for the hidden successes. Click to tweet.

Act 1 – The Setup

 

I called a library. The event coordinator detailed impressive ways she promoted author events. She said the library was dedicated to helping authors. According to her suggestion, we set up a weekday date from 11AM to 1PM.

Image courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Later, I delivered my press release content and book cover poster, which the coordinator displayed at the entrance. It would greet patrons for a month.

We checked whether my MacBook Air would work with their projector. Too iffy. I’d bring my large-screen desktop.

 

The head librarian said 4 to 12 attended these events. No surprise to me.

Act 2 – The Preparation

 

I wanted to add activities different from the normal ones. Of course, I’d wear my Cisney costume from Calculated Risk’s cover with yellow stickies dotting my suit.

Calculated Risk by Zoe M. McCarthy

Cisney3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I prepared and timed activities to fit a 90-minute period, leaving time to settle in and chat. Here’s the schedule titles:

1.  Doughnuts. Bring enough for participants and library staff.

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

2.  Writing journey with a twist: A String of Nevers. Perform my journey using catchy titles for each journey stage. Raise a NEVER sign each time I utter “never.”

3.  Story behind the story. Keep it to a few entertaining stories.

4.  Story tidbits. Tell about 12 story-related items from my story basket. End each blurb with an intriguing story question.

5.  Scene 1. Give a dramatic reading.

6.  Book Trailers. Ask for feedback on Calculated Risk’s two trailers.

7.  Q & A

8.  Bird of Paradise Napkin. Invite participants to fold a book-related napkin fold.

9.  Drawing. Give away a copy of Calculated Risk.

Act 3 – The Live Event

 

Sometimes, discussed promotion fails to happen. Such was true for this event. But I set up everything and was ready.

Image courtesy of Daniel St.Pierre at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Daniel St.Pierre at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By 11:00, no one had arrived.

At 11:15, I enjoyed a doughnut, telling God everything was fine, I trusted him no matter what.

At 11:25, I told the mortified-for-me coordinator we’d try again in the spring. I packed up.

A woman came in: “I hear you’ve packed up and will return in the spring.” We chatted. Another woman arrived disappointed I was leaving. So we went on with the show.

 

Successful Reviews

 

1.  For trusting God and refusing to lay blame for no attendees, God blessed me with two women.

2.  The two ladies are active in eight library book clubs. They told me to come back, and they’d promote the event using their connections. They recommended a bookstore where local authors do well in book signings. And they both bought a book.

3.  I’ll use my preparation for this event for future ones. Rehearsing to two women is far better than to my mirror. I’ll tweak my presentation, and I’ll be ready for the next event.

4.  The head librarian recommended the same bookstore the women did and supplied names of contacts.

5.  I had fun.

What blessings have you received from an author event?