This is a Building Blocs piece about the Writers Bloc Workshop.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a writer in possession of a draft must be in want of feedback. It is equally certain that that writer's friends, family or partner will read said draft under sufferance and, at the end, will kind of smile and nod vaguely say: 'It’s really good,' and maybe mumble something about how the story 'Has some very interesting language choices,' while they inch towards the exit.
Perhaps the single most effective skill a writer can develop is a critical eye for their own work—to calmly and constructively examine: prose, plot and pacing to determine what works and what doesn’t. Or failing that, you can workshop it.
Workshopping is, essentially, giving your work over to a group for honest appraisal. Ideally, this happens before being edited so that you can get an idea of how it reads through (several sets of) other eyes. Workshopping is also useful for writers to closely study others’ work, to develop creative empathy and learn new tricks that might apply to their own writing and self-editing. It’s also a chance for writers to give each other honest feedback on how they might improve their practice.
You’d be amazed what a little constructive criticism can do.
Michael Chabon wrote his masterful epic The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay after being told his first book wasn’t grand enough in scale. Many of the storied writers' group in history have had an element of workshopping to them. Famous literary cliques from The Bloomsbury Set, to Satre and de Beauvoir's study group, existed to push each other’s writing and ideas forward. It wasn’t all high tea and highly politicised pan-sexual polyamory after all.
There was an element of the workshop in the Algonquin Round Table, a group of hyper-catty New York writers who met for lunch each day at the Algonquin Hotel from 1919 to 1929, where they sharpened their claws on each other, and eventually evolved into a kind of wisecracking superhuman best exemplified by Dorothy Parker and her collected scathing burns.
Workshopping is also the backbone of pretty much every creative writing program in the world, from undergraduate classes you don’t mind turning up to late and hungover, to the famous Iowa Writers Workshop. Arguably the most celebrated creative writing degree in the world. The faculty and graduates involved in the program boast 28 Pulitzer prizes between them.
If you look around you’ll see dozens and dozens of creative writing workshops that you can sign up for, each with their own pros and cons, and each with their price tag.
Except for ours.
The reason Writers Bloc exists is to provide a platform for creative writers of all stripes to connect. To this end we’ve developed a special workshopping space so that writers can submit their work for considered, anonymous feedback from their peers.
Stories submitted to our workshop receive free peer-reviewed feedback, as well as editorial advice from the Writers Bloc team, comprised of professional editors, teachers, and authors.
Not only is it free, but we pay you.
Each month, we will choose a story from the workshop that has particularly impressed us to be the featured story for the month on the Writers Bloc frontpage. If chosen, your story will be professionally edited by the team, heavily promoted, and introduced to the editors and industry gatekeers who work with Writers Bloc.
Best of all, we'll pay you a professional fee for your story, because we believe good writing deserves recognition.
Check out the video below for a tutorial from Writers Bloc founder Geoff Orton on how our workshops work, and click here to get involved
This is a Building Blocs piece, part of a series where we discuss ideas and skills important to writers. To read more in the series, click here.
Writers Bloc Community
The Writers Bloc is a community for writers. We provide free anonymous workshopping, advice, events, opportunities, and a paid publishing platform.