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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
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
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Participants: Unpublished and published writers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
* 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
* 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
* 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
-- 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
You can do the same and get paid for it.
© Copyright 2005, Beth Fowler
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