Teaching writing workshops that transform students

Copyright National Lilac Publishing, LLC

Whether teaching writing workshops as an independent source of income or as part of a volunteer or salaried teaching position, you’ll want to have students feeling thrilled with the experience while you watch their skills excel.

You'll want them to discover a roadmap to a previously hidden inner writing voice, and to leave with a better appreciation for grammar and literature.

I’ve spent many pleasant days and weekends teaching writing workshops to children, women’s groups and even professional writers of both genders. Two things made the workshops stand out, and if you can implement either of them, you may really like the results.

1. Include something beautiful and tangible for completing your writing workshop

I got A’s in English. My husband is a sign designer and painter (can you imagine a misspelling in that livelihood?) and my wonderful mother-in-law was an English teacher. I’m a firm believer that “creativity” is worthless if we can’t pass our creativity on to others via a code we all understand and recognize. That code is English, and we can’t just make up our own spellings and skip grammar if we want others to understand the code.

One secret I’ve found for motivation in students to *want* good grammar on their own is to have them create something tangible for others to see, such as a beautifully decorated mounted poem (scrapbooking stores would have lots of ideas for this).

I’ve seen students who otherwise couldn’t care less about English gladly focus on spelling and punctuation when they knew they were going to be published and seen. Students can also help edit each other, which gives them a new appreciation for “red marks,” which they can now understand as being something that saves them from future discomfort rather than being the bad guy.

2. When teaching writing workshops, get students past the inner critic and into the literary sweet spot

Having said what was said above, deep, unique creativity also needs to be accessed. A colleague who teaches writing workshops found herself with a defiant adolescent student forced there by his mother. Mom sat by his side to make sure he stayed in class. When the class was complete, he had transformed into a new person, pouring out literary thoughts with joy and ease because he finally connected with his inner creative voice.

Teaching writing workshops means not choosing *just* the left hemisphere (grammar) or the right hemisphere (creativity), but making them mutually beneficial. So do use part of the workshop just to access deep inner recesses of the mind where pure originality is locked up and waiting to come out -- which can only happen when the left brain and grammar/spelling critic is shut off -- but only temporarily.

As Higher Awareness points out (our affiliate which trains people to teach writing workshops for income that produce inner healings and profound results: click on the "facilitator training" link) we all have this buried in us somewhere.

I’ve found that both free writing and clustering help access this area in almost everyone. If you’re unfamiliar with these, your library most likely has the book “Writing the Naturally Way,” which explains clustering in depth. Free writing is putting your pen to the paper, and keeping it moving regardless of what is written, for a given amount of time, such as three minutes. It really clears the junk and opens up the highway to the still small voice. We also have an article on it here.

I once had to teach a writing workshop to a group of women on a spa retreat. I was competing with facials, manicures and massages! After it was over, the director said the women loved it, and one said it was her favorite part of the retreat. Another said she didn’t want the workshop to stop. I used clustering and some of the techniques taught in Higher Awareness (click on the "facilitator training" link at this page). They really can work well.

Teaching writing workshops is very fulfilling, and if you’re a writer yourself, you’ll find you come to understand your own writing and will improve profoundly just by teaching others. But don’t forget to let your own teaching mode go occasionally, and take a workshop or join a creative writers’ group yourself now and then to set your inner voice free.

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