SCHOOL HOLIDAY WRITING WORKSHOPS – THE LESSONS I LEARNED

I had a hectic but wonderful time doing school holiday writing workshops in our local area. I met some amazing writers of all ages and was truly inspired by their talent and enthusiasm.

I presented two workshops for adults, Explore the Writer in You and Writing for Publication. I also did a workshop for 8-11yo’s titled Where Will My Story End and one for 12-15 yo’s titled Heroes and Villains – Creating Great Characters.

The workshops were a first for all of us. The shire had never done something like this and it was a first for me because I had never done workshops in a library where there was no teacher supervision and you didn’t have the facilities you would find in a normal classroom.

It was clear early on that PowerPoint was not going to be an option. I was fine with this because I prepare all my workshops with a Plan B just in case the technology doesn’t work on the day.

The adult workshops ran at night and apart from a few hitches with the venue, everything went according to plan and there were lots of eager writers.

The children’s writing workshops ran during the day, starting with the youngest age group first. At 9.30am, a line of mostly shy, mostly small, mostly eager small people around 8 year’s old trickled in.

Lesson 1 (for me): When planning a workshop for this age group that’s not in a classroom, make your early activities flexible. At 9.30 the first child arrived and at 10.05 the last of them trickled through the door. I admit I was used to a school setting where you walk into a classroom and everybody is already there.

Lesson 2: Include 11yo’s in the next age group. Their writing abilities and maturity take them to the next level. (I realised that ideally, the workshops should have been for 3 groups. 8-10, 11-13 and 14-17.)

With a group of mainly quite young writers of very varied abilities, it soon became apparent that some of the activities I had planned were too advanced for this group. Many of the kids seemed to be there not because they were avid writers but because their parents were looking for something to do with them for the school holidays.

I adjusted my thinking and made the activities less ‘instructional’ and more ‘fun’ as I went and most kids seemed happy with what they were doing. The child drawing on himself in the corner was a concern, but he did produce a story and seemed happy enough. I paid him as much attention as I could but in a room of 25 kids who mostly didn’t know each other and needed help with their stories, my time was thinly spread.

Lesson 3: Limit school holiday groups for younger children to 15 because it’s up to you to supervise them and the talents will be very diverse.

I learned some lessons from the workshops but I also had a heap of fun. During the week we did everything from plan an author marketing campaign to create some fairly unique plots and characters.

Do you have any tips for author visits or funny stories to tell where things didn’t quite go according to plan? If so, we’d love to hear them.

Feel free to share in the comments section of this blog.

Happy writing:)

Dee

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14 thoughts on “SCHOOL HOLIDAY WRITING WORKSHOPS – THE LESSONS I LEARNED

  1. Hi Chris,

    The workshops were great fun:)

    No holidays though! People have asked me to do weekly ones – not complaining though.

    Hope your writing is going well.

    Dee:)

  2. Excellent post again Dee. I always find the younger the group, the bigger the challenge and the shorter the attention span. You coped terrifically.

  3. Sounds like you are a very flexible presenter, Dee and that your workshops were informative as well as fun. Well done! Weekly workshops would be fabulous – you could start your very own writing school.
    Cheers,
    Marie

  4. Thanks, Katrina,

    The workshops ran for two hours so there were no lunch breaks.

    Definitely going for maximum 15 younger kids next time. 25 wasn’t a problem for the older ones. They were really engaged and wanted to be there.

    Dee:)

  5. Hi Marie,

    I’ve found that writing workshops require a lot of flexibility because people’s needs and talents are so diverse, but it’s all good fun and I always have alternative activities up my sleeve:)

    Funny you should say that about the writing school:)

    Hope your writing is going well.

    Dee:)

  6. Well done with your ground breaking workshops in the shire- yes flexibility is the key and every experience refines the next one- what full workshops. Well done!

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