If you’re an aspiring writer, one of the best ways to improve your work is to attend a workshop. Getting an MFA isn’t necessary for you to get involved in productive, inspiring, and thought provoking classes. Grubstreet, a creative writing program in Boston, offers over six hundred classes and programs a year with experienced instructors. These classes will read your stories, give you feedback, and allow you the opportunity to give constructive criticism to your peers. The hope is that by attending a class, you will develop a sense of accountability with your writing that will push you to both finish and revise your stories.
Grubstreet offers a number of courses, including workshops in short fiction, the novel, and screenwriting. For their workshops, you have a choice of a three-hour seminar, a one time six hour specialized course, or multi-week classes (six, ten, and twelve week courses offered). If you want to learn about a specific element of your craft, the three-hour seminar is probably the direction you should take. However, if you want to improve a specific story that you’re working on, you should definitely look into the multi-week classes. These classes allow you to spend an extended amount of time with an instructor and peers who are dedicated to improving their writing.
A workshop is daunting. Turning in first drafts to strangers, or even to friends, is always nerve-wracking. While it’s never fun to receive criticism, I believe it is critical to the development of writers. There’s something about hearing feedback out loud that helps put your story into perspective. As a writer, it’s easy to get lost in intent—what you think your story is doing, the point you think you’re making. When you hear that your point isn’t coming across, or that something you thought wasn’t working actually is, you come to understand your story in a deeper way. Because of this, your revision process is more productive. Ideally, as you go to make changes, you will keep your peers’ comments in mind. This will help you avoid similar mistakes in the next story you write.
Workshop enables writers to hear immediate reactions to their work. This allows the revision process to become more focused, as the writer has been given a specific set of concepts to keep in mind as they revise their work. Additionally, a place like Grubstreet gives aspiring writers a community centered around literacy, writing, and creativity. These connections are a great way to stay inspired and motivated, which helps keep writing at the center of one’s life.