Tag Archives: Penny Shutt

Why do people come to writing workshops?

When you talk to non-writers, they often assume there could only be one possible reason for coming on writing workshops, and that’s in order to become a published author. I find this assumption rather odd.

It would be like saying the only reason a person might take piano lessons would be to become a concert pianist or piano teacher, and the only reason for joining a football team would be if you want to be a pro footballer.

My observation as a workshop provider is that it’s a rare participant who signs up because they want a new career. I mean, of course that may be something that develops down the line, just as playing the piano or football might eventually lead to career opportunities if you find that you love it enough to want to practise and practise – but in the first instance, it’s all about pleasure.

Most people come to workshops because they want to see if they’ll enjoy it and, if they do, to build their skills so they can enjoy it even more.  It’s about the adventure of trying something new and the joy of learning – which a survey of adults a while ago found many people rated above the joy of sex. True story!

Writing is an opportunity to explore your inner world, to become more aware of everything around you, to find a voice for your thoughts and feelings. It makes life more interesting, more meaningful, more manageable, more beautiful.

The unexpected bonus for people new to workshops is the sense of community that builds very quickly through sharing and discussing writing in a group – lots of new friendships and writing groups begin in workshop situations.

I write for publication but, like almost every writer I’ve ever met, I did loads of writing before I ever thought of being an author and a lot of the writing I do today is experimental and not intended for publication.

There’s the writing, and then there’s the job of being an author. Most people in workshops are there for the writing, though it’s always a buzz when, as a consequence of building their writing confidence, they start to send work off and get things  accepted for publication or placed in competitions.

My favourite recent workshop was led by Penny Shutt around the picnic tables at Pinetum Gardens

I personally love going on writing workshops and I take the opportunity whenever I can, not because I want to find new opportunities and ideas for publication but because it’s almost always an enjoyable experience.

Why do you go to writing workshops? Has your motivation changed since the first one you went on?