Sometimes, even when I’d rather my status were #amwriting, I’m not writing. I’m not even thinking about writing … because life’s other obligations begin to infringe upon writing time. One effective way to gain both time and inspiration for writing is through writing prompts and workshops. Scheduled small group workshops are best, but even making room for prompts to do on your own are an improvement over #notwriting or #i’dratherbewritingbutlostcontrolofmyschedule. Here are five powerful ways writing prompts and workshops can help you.
1. Improve your Craft
Whether it’s an on-your-own prompt or an instructor-led workshop, you can improve your craft. That’s because you actually write when you respond to a prompt, and practice is essential to growth. Instructor-led workshops often include information about what makes a poem work and include a smorgasbord of tasty tips to help you through the entire process of birthing a poem. The instructors often share poems they like or admire (usually both) that may be new to you! And reading good poetry is yet another way to improve your own craft. Through prompts and workshops, I’ve learned new ways to approach my writing and new techniques to consider as I compose and polish my work.
2. Do Something New
Prompts provide a structure and starting point for you. Even if you are great at ideation, prompts that come from outside your own mind can often lead you to new places! Workshops may go even deeper … especially when attendees share their work. You may gain new insights not only by looking within but from hearing others’ often widely varying experiences and perspectives in reaction to the prompt. Sometimes a workshop may focus on a particular form or technique, and that’s a great way to learn and grow as a poet, too. I’m not a great prompt writer (yet?) but I always take something away and have a draft. And even a not-so-hot draft is better than a blank page.
3. Set Aside Time for Writing
If you have a hard time blocking off time for your writing, or you lack discipline to follow a schedule, or you haven’t quite got the hang of saying NO to other requests of your time … committing to an ongoing series of workshops could help you block off some time and make all of those issues dissolve. So say YES to workshops and show up. You’ll end up with at least drafts and learn a lot along the way. You might even expand your network or make a few friends, too!
4. Gain a Social Outlet
Writing is a lonely business. Introverts may love this aloneness and prefer on-your-own prompts. But a workshop with other people is important to reap the benefits of shared ideas and work. With many workshops being held virtually, it’s convenient to attend. In-person events can go a long way to fill extroverts’ energy buckets with social interactions without sacrificing writing time.
5. Work on Performing Poems
Taking your poem from page to stage effectively can make your work shine. Because most workshops include a sharing element, this is a great way to work on presentation of your poem as well as writing. Even if you don’t share your poem, listening to others can help you pull out some ideas on how to improve your own delivery.