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Make Money Running Writing Workshops
by Beth Fowler

No matter what stage your writing career is in, you can do as Anne Lamott does.

Anne's first novel, Hard Laughter, was published in 1980. More published novels and memoirs followed. She wrote columns for magazines and then "Someone offered me a gig teaching a writing workshop, and I've been teaching writing classes ever since." And still writing and getting published.

Don't wait for someone to offer you a workshop gig. Success arrives when opportunity meets preparation. Prepare then actively market your classes.

* Create results-oriented workshop titles with verbs and nouns. Get Published – Be a Freelance Writer, Start Your Novel, and Travel Write without the Travel, are workshops I've offered.

* Write a description with a hook, objectives, targeted participants and your credentials. Here's my travel writing workshop description.

Hook: Your dream of crafting marketable travel pieces with depth, emotion and sense of place can become reality.

Objectives: Learn publishing industry protocol, and tell personal stories that have universal appeal. Travel essays by some of the world's best writers will be used as models and inspiration.

Participants: Unpublished and published writers should bring a 500-word travel essay they wrote, and the publication to which they want to send their articles.

Credentials: The instructor's travel writing has appeared in airline magazines. Her articles about how to write have also been published. Read excerpts of her travelogue at www.authorsden.com/bethfowler.

* Find ready-made outlets. Rather than burdening yourself with room rental and advertising costs, find organizations already offering adult education. Contact school district community education directors, park and municipality recreation directors, YM/YWCA and library program directors. Inquire at community centers, retirement villages, business expos, colleges and even shopping malls. Network with companies whose employees can improve skills with refreshers. For example, I've conducted grammar and punctuation workshops for administrative staff and technical writing classes for engineers.

* Design the workshop. Vary instructional methods to keep participants and yourself engaged. Here are some methods I use in travel writing workshops: share writing goals, lecture about common flaws in travel writing, analyze what makes anthologized selections in America's Best Travel Writing so darned good (or not), critique each other's writing, write in response to a prompt, brainstorm how to find markets for one's articles, create a mini-anthology of participants' travel essays.

* Advertise. If your workshop is part of an existing program, say enrichment classes at a community college, you can still spread the word. I'm usually paid per registrant, so it's in my financial interest to notify every writer with whom I've come in contact over the years. Put fliers in coffee shops, libraries and cafes. Include workshop schedules on your web site. Send announcements to the "what's happening" sections of newspapers, to local radio stations including the NPR affiliate and to book discussion groups. From the ladies in yoga class to our gourmet group, everyone in my sphere of acquaintances is offered a copy of my writing workshop schedule.

* Show 'n' tell. I take as many things as possible to reinforce telling with showing. Rejection letters from editors, contracts, submission guidelines, reference books (Writer's Market, Zobel's Travel Writer's Handbook, style and grammar guides), writers' magazines, my business cards and some of my published works are on display. I also prepare handouts with lists of writers' resources, worksheets, writing samples and bulleted lists with titles such as "Query Letter Checklist" or "7 Components of Excellent Travel Writing." I clip articles about authors, writing and publishing from newspapers so I can provide information as fresh as today's headlines.

-- Share. Encourage participants to share their experiences that relate to workshop objectives.

-- Control. Gently steer anyone who attempts a filibuster back to the workshop objectives, which were announced at the outset and probably written on a handout.

-- Thank them. Thank participants at the beginning and end of workshops, after all, they could've stayed home watching Animal Planet. Thank the coordinator who handled details for the workshop. Thank the honcho who included your workshop in the education program.

-- Plant the seed. Survey participants for desired topics of future workshops.

-- Loiter. Allow time to hang around afterward for questions and kudos.

* Get paid. If your name is Pico Iyer, you can earn thousands of dollars for one gig. I've been paid from $0 to $750 for library programs, while I earn approximately $15 for each enrollee at other adult ed venues. Writer's Market 2005 cites $60 to $284 as the range of pay per event for writers' workshops.

In Bird by Bird Anne Lamott writes that mostly what she does at writers' workshops is, "listen, encourage and tell people what writing is like for me on a daily basis and what helps me and what doesn't."

You can do the same and get paid for it.

© Copyright 2005, Beth Fowler

Find more interesting articles at authorsden.com/bethfowler

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