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

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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.

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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.

Tips for Leading a Writers Workshop: Part 1 – Presenting

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Leading a writers workshop is a great way to meet people and pay forward the writing help we’ve received.

These tips will help you feel comfortable presenting to a group.

5 Tips in Leading a Writers Workshop – Presenting

image by Mohamed_hassan

 

1. Arrive early to set up so you can fix problems with projectors and computers, chair and table configurations, and your book-table setup. No matter how well I prepare, half the workshops I’ve led had a setup glitch. The calmer I was the faster it was rectified.

 

For example, at a workshop I led at a library, the tables needed rearranging, I required a lectern to hold my binder, and the projector worked but my slides weren’t showing. My calmness allowed me to take care of my needs and see the lens door wasn’t completely opened.

At home before the workshop, close all unnecessary apps on your laptop, except your slide presentation. Set it on the first slide. I use my own projector. I carry batteries for the remote and an extension cord.

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2. As participants arrive, wander to their seat, introduce yourself, and talk to them.

Fellow introverts, it’s easy. Simply ask them what they’re writing, then put aside everything and listen to them. You’ll accomplish two things. As you listen carefully, you’ll think of something that adds to the conversation, and you’ll find out what kind of audience you have.

For example, at the library workshop, I discovered one person wrote nonfiction and songs, another wrote short stories, and two wrote memoirs. My workshop was mainly for novel writers. But during the workshop, I mentioned how the techniques could be used in short stories, memoirs, and non-fiction. This helped make my workshop a success.

3. Don’t allow outside events to rattle you. Do what you can to protect your class, such as shut a door, close a blind, or ask your host to take care of a problem. Other than that, ignore the goings-on. At the library workshop, during the entire session, two photographers snapped shots of the class and me for a library related article. My host warned me they might be there, but I’d forgotten.

image by jarmoluk

The photographers tried to be unobtrusive. I smiled at them and then ignored they were there. My job was to present my material to the class. Two benefits: I will be in an article. Free promotion. When the photographers took extra photos of me later, one said she learned much from the class.

 

4. Participants will share perfect responses to exercises. Compliment them. Sometimes others’ responses don’t apply, aren’t quite what you’re looking for, or need more to become workable. Expect this. They’re learning, and you’ve given them only minutes to prepare a piece. Never criticize. Look for anything that remotely applies, mention it, and build on that morsel.

If you’re listening, it’s not as hard as it sounds. This method allows them to hear what you say and become excited about how they can better their writing.

5. At the end, receive questions. Be available afterward for those who want to ask something privately. Thank your host, and send a thank-you note.

Part 1 – tips for leading a writers workshop – presenting. Click to tweet.

What questions or workshop 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?