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.
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.
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