Writing Craft

Your Role in a Conference Workshop

Have you ever attended a conference workshop that really seemed like a snooze? It happens to the best of participants and the best of instructors. While the hope is every class will have chemistry, sometimes there just isn’t any.

But you can help!

I’ve talked at conferences and paused with, “Does anyone have any questions?” But I met with crickets. Well, actually, singing insects would have been a welcome alternative to silence and given me something to talk about. I might like to think I’m an awesome workshop leader, but I know I don’t cover every aspect of a topic in full every time.

Don’t let this happen to your instructor! Help!

Know Why You Chose that Workshop

Most medium-to-large-sized conferences have many workshop selections per time slot. In fact, I often overhear conferees say, “I don’t know which workshop to choose! They’re all wonderful!”

Think about the workshops and what you hope to learn and accomplish. You can even ask your agent for suggestions. Then be ready to absorb the knowledge imparted.


 Some workshops include exercises such as writing an opening paragraph. Please be ready to share your work, because if the teacher planned that exercise as part of the class, it’s for your benefit. It can be scary to put your classwork out there in front of a group but it’s also part of being a writer. Don’t be afraid.

Ask Questions

Don’t be shy! I realize some might be reluctant to appear “stupid” in front of a room of other writers. I understand the desire not to make a “mistake” in front of a crowd. But you are not dumb, and no question is stupid. If you ask a question, I’ll speculate that at least one other person wonders the same thing, and is glad you asked!


 Most of the time, the teachers are available to chat after class. Take this chance to connect!

Your turn:

 What workshop topics do you enjoy?

How have workshops helped you improve your craft?


Leave a Comment

Never Assume Biblical Literacy

It wasn’t long ago that a reference to a Biblical character or a Bible verse would be widely understood without explanation. That is no longer true. Researcher George Gallup said “We revere the Bible, but we don’t read it.” This was recently illustrated in our local newspaper in an article …

Read More

Two Kinds of Writers in the World

I often tell developing writers at conferences that there are two kinds of writers in the world: the “hobbyist” and the “professional.” Yes, it’s an oversimplification. It’s shorthand. But I think it gets the point across. Both the hobbyist and the professional may be good writers, even great. Both may …

Read More

40 Days with One Composition

For the last few years I’ve used the forty days of Lent as an auditory discipline. I try to listen to one collection of music during the entire season. This year’s choice was Franz Joseph Haydn’s “The Seven Last Words of our Savior on the Cross.” I listened to the …

Read More

Editors: Friend or Foe?

Our guest blogger today is our friend Karen Ball! She runs Karen Ball Publishing Services, LLC and is an award-winning, best-selling author; a popular podcaster/ speaker; and the co-creator with Erin Taylor Young of From the Deep, LLC. She has also been executive editor for fiction at Tyndale, Multnomah, Zondervan, and …

Read More

25 Rules for Writers

Yes, W. Somerset Maugham famously said, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” But that hasn’t stopped many of the best and/or most famous writers in English from suggesting rules for both fiction and nonfiction. So here is a list of twenty-five …

Read More

Your Money is Your Business or Keep a Lid on How Much Money You Make

How much should author friends reveal to each other about contracts or other business dealings when they have business with the same publisher?

I think it is a huge mistake to reveal the amount of your advances to other authors. This is similar to finding out the salary of the co-worker in the office cubicle next to yours. When I was a retail store manager we had major problems when salaries were revealed, a near fist-fight between two people who had been friends.

Money is viewed as a measure of worth; i.e. a measure of the worthiness of your work.

Read More