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Sometimes, when you’re in the darkest and gloomiest part of the writing process, the workshop cliche is what saves you

Usually, the suggested fixes that you’re given by a writing workshop are pretty mechanical and, oftentimes, not very coherent. The thing that workshop does well, though, is diagnose the problems that need to be fixed. Because stories are so complicated and need to work on so many levels, it’s very possible to create a story that’s all tone or […]

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You know where I had a really excellent time? The Clarion Writer’s Workshop

Clarion and Clarion West (for those not in the know) are six-week summer workshops for science fiction and fantasy writers. You go, you live in a dorm with twenty other writers, you get instructed by a different professor each week, and every week you write a story and have your story critiqued. It’s a pretty intense […]

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Coming up on my last workshop at Johns Hopkins (and perhaps my last one for a long time)

Already some of the other people I’ve spent the last two years with are figuring out their next steps. And I’m working on my final story for workshop. There is a bittersweetness to it, just as there is to all endings. For the last 20 or so months, our MFA workshop has been a constant […]

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Let go of things you wrote while you were in undergrad

Just went with my MFA classmates to see a production of Seminar at the Roundhouse Theater in DC. This is a play that’s about four aspiring writers who are in a workshop with a crusty old instructor who alternates merciless abuse with tepid praise. It was extremely enjoyable. However, most of it was not specific to […]

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You would think that _knowing_ you’re going to feel bad would somehow inoculate you against feeling bad

When I was in the final stages of writing the first draft of the novel, I was feeling so good that I knew the feeling couldn’t last. When you’re in a good mood, it’s impossible to fathom a bad mood coming. But I knew it was on its way! I had no idea what I […]

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Anatomy of a Semi-Mystical Workshop Experience

Just saw my friend Alex Kane’s blog post about the aftermath of going to Clarion West (which is a six-week summer workshop for SF writing that was taught, this year, by Neil Gaiman and a lot of other good writers who are about a tenth as famous as Neil Gaiman). He had a really good […]

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Being willing to learn whatever the instructor is able to teach

My class had its first workshop last Friday. My students performed admirably. Their stories were interesting and their comments were perceptive. And, in the process of conducting the workshop, I learned something about what it means to teach writing. In some ways, it’s a little odd that I’m allowed to teach people how to write. […]

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