How to successfully conduct an online writing workshop
A successful writing workshop comprises different factors including pedagogy, humanity, grace, authority, inclusion, and a little bit of humor. Assuming you’ve got the expertise, it’s great to offer an online writing workshop to earn some extra income. Moreover, it’s a great way to give back some of the knowledge you’ve gained during your career.
In reality, many workshops are quite boring, while a limited few are highly successful. Writing workshops can be of different types—from creative writing workshops, adult writing workshops, to technical writing workshops, and the list almost seems to be endless. Whatever path you choose, the key factors behind a successful online workshop remain almost the same as physical workshops. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Develop the outline
Highlight the key items you want to cover. This includes both high-priority and low-priority items. At times, you may find these items get covered more quickly than your expectation. It’s important to have certain things prepared to cover the free time thus created, which could be anything from a Q&A session, to a group discussion among the learners, or to a short test to assess the students’ progress. Also, you should structure your workshop in such a manner that allows you to drop items if things occur more slowly than what you had anticipated.
Participants deserve to get the most out of their money from those few hours they devote to your course. So it’s crucial to prepare yourself as much as you can and take care of each and every detail. Here’s one important thing to remember: people usually don’t connect with facts; instead, they connect with stories—how you learned a lot after doing a million mistakes, the story of your passion, etc. It’s far more valuable when you have someone like-minded with whom to connect and who has gone through the same experiences. Always keep an alternate set of prompts handy in case the group lacks energy or when the dynamics change.
Work out your costing
Participants can always search the web for writing guidelines and ideas, but what you offer is your knowledge and experience—it’s a resource. It’s very different learning directly from someone who brings his/her experience, mistakes, struggles, etc., to the table than amassing content online and then sieving through them to find the useful bits. As the course instructor, be ready to offer useful insight, encourage the students to ask questions, and connect with them, since all of these are extremely valuable to make your course something that students would enjoy and rate highly. Do maintain detailed records of your expenses and work out the course cost based on the time, effort, and resources you have invested in it.
The end is not the end
Be available after the writing workshop, if possible. Some people don’t feel comfortable asking questions publicly, while others may just want to thank you for the workshop. Being able to reach you (even if it’s for a limited time after the course is completed) would be helpful for the students. It’d be great if you have provisioned for one-on-one chat after the completion of the course.
The most important tip above all is to have fun. If you’re not enjoying the workshop, chances are, the participants won’t either.
Have you ever conducted any online writing workshops? Feel free to share the experience in the comments section below. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Be sure to check my books at www.rosaliecontinobooks.com.
Greaney, Áine. 2015. “Teaching Creative Writing Workshops: 8 Ways to Prepare and Plan.” Áine Greaney, February 16. Accessed January 17, 2018. http://www.ainegreaney.com/blog/2015/2/16/7-tips-for-creative-writing-teachers.
Allen Moira. 2001. “Tips on Conducting a Successful Workshop.” Writing-World.com. Accessed January 17, 2018. http://www.writing-world.com/freelance/workshop.shtml.