Writing Workshops, An Obsession Reborn

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I’ve spoken before of my desire to teach writing workshops. I even iddi a super short one on scriptwriting that kept a random group of high schoolers engaged and entertained the whole time. If I hadn’t run that one workshop – or if that workshop had flopped rather than succeeded so spectacularly – I might not be doing this now.

What am I doing? I’m in the process of organizing a summer series of writing workshops.

This series is a test. Can I repeat that first success? Can I get my name out enough to eventually develop this gig into an income supplement? In this rural area, is there enough interest to make that sustainable?

This all started with the usual daydreaming. Then I realized I didn’t need to wait on anyone’s permission or certain publishing credits credits to start this. And I realized that ‘someday’ had to become ‘now’ because I will only have more resistance to starting this process once the little one arrives.

Step one: post to social media to sound out friends and investigate topics of interest.

I discovered friends in far-flung places with an interest in taking part. My first thought? I can’t do this online. But close behind that came the realization that it would be easy to set up. I still want to primarily focus on in-person workshops (at least for now), but holding a few spaces for distance participants might just work.

I also discovered that world building as a topic drew a lot of interest. A lot. In my various workshop brainstorms, I’d generally neglected world building. So I sat down and in half an hour had a workable, detailed plan for a three hour workshop.

Step two: brainstorm workshop locations.

My house is too far from, well, everything to host. Also, I don’t want to add the stress of making my home adequately presentable when the even itself will cause enough distress. Again, I turned to Facebook for suggestions.

I discovered that event space can be expensive. Even the affordable spaces quickly became prohibitive. I learned I would have to calculate a minimum number of participants in order just to break even on expenses. And looking at this as a potential income stream, I intend to do better than break even. At this point, I have no way to gauge how many people might sign up.

Step three: set a price.

I really did this in conjunction with step two because I had no idea of space costs. $25 for a three hour workshop seemed the high end of reasonable to charge friends for being my guinea pigs and the low end of reasonable for that type and length of workshop.

I discovered that this is the hardest part. I struggled to post the price without apologizing or rationalizing. Doubts and second-guessing plagued me. Should I charge anything at all?

See, setting a price, asking for money in exchange for a creative endeavor feels like the height of hubris. Because our culture, our society, treats art as a calling that leaves you to starve. Growing up, my family said, “Ok, you’re going to be a writer, but what will you do to pay the bills?”

Screw that.

I watch the adult ed fliers. I know the price range those rare writing workshops command and I know what’s reasonable in this area.

Next steps: lock in my space reservation, create a public Facebook event, and finally get my hands on a copy of Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking. My efforts to turn writing workshops into any sort of income stream will require a lot of not-always-comfortable asking.

This obsession is leading to more time spent with stories. More time spent writing or editing. Creating. I love this feeling that I’m doing what I’m meant to do.

What topics would you like to see in self-contained, single-session writing workshops? Please let me know in the comments!

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