Learning as we go: Establishing a writing community

Alexandria Wolochuck

Alexandria Wolochuck

In 2011 Pat Mason and I set out to establish a TAA chapter writing community at Molloy College. Making the time to come together during a semester to share our work is an awesome task for many of us, but we try to make it interesting for our colleagues by providing writing sessions, newly published books, and refreshments. In addition, we have adopted various useful mottoes—the best being “Less surfing and more writing!”

Pat and I seek to provide opportunities to the writing group that would be the most beneficial to our members. Recently what worked for us was to offer a 50-minute workshop on “Strategies to Improve Your Writing.” We got off to a really great start with a group of faculty representing nursing, theology and communication who seemed eager to learn. The workshop was very interactive and the time was well spent. [Read more…]

The writers’ workshop at work

Rachel Toor

Rachel Toor

When I first went back to graduate school in creative writing, after a lifetime in the publishing ‘hood, I told my friends that if they ever heard me use “workshop” as a verb, they should shoot me.

But now, with one foot in the academic world and the other in the muck of teaching creative writing, I think the writers’ workshop is an appropriate model for academics who want to make their manuscripts better. Creative writers have been “workshopping” each other’s stuff for a long time. The workshop model can lead to tears, to bruised egos, and, occasionally, to black eyes. But the right group can produce better work.

The first thing to do is to gather people who are serious about giving and receiving help, and then to decide what the process should be: how often to meet, what kinds of work to be submitted, who will bring the food. My own model is like Ben Franklin’s Junto. He limited the number of members in that mutual-improvement club to 12. More than 12 in a writers’ workshop is difficult, and I think six to eight is best. [Read more…]