I’ve tried a variety of writer’s workshops. Some in high school, some in college, some online, some through groups. None of them have ever really helped me with my writing and most of them have just annoyed and frustrated me. I’m sure writer’s workshops are helpful for some people, but for me, it was just one big effort in futility.
One of the main problems I find is that workshops I’ve done always seemed to match me with someone who has no idea how the English language worked. In college, I once swapped papers with a girl that didn’t know the difference between “then” and “than” or how to use any correct form of “there”. How is she supposed to help me with my writing when she’s in college penning statements such as, “My happiness levels were on the rise”?
Another problem is that some people are determined to turn your writing into their writing. In one online group I’ve joined I was told that my form of prose was “barebones” and a good method of notes, but needed entirely more details. I found the same person making the same comment to just about everyone. I read one of his works and could barely get through the first page of painfully detailed, boring descriptions about tons of shit that didn’t even matter. He wanted me to write like him, but that is not how I write or how I want to write.
Another problem still is that sometimes your work doesn’t exactly get equal time. I once swapped short stories with a man in my college creative writing class to have him give two sentences of feedback on my work then took over the rest of the allotted 20 minutes discussing his. He didn’t even want to discuss his story either, he wanted me to stroke his ego and tell him he was a great and insightful writer.
Not to say that writer’s workshops actually functioning are impossible. I once created a Beta group and had a lot of writers that I knew and liked submit their work and get feedback. It was helpful and detailed and a lot of fun. But the group eventually fizzled out and I’m not even sure what happened to it now. What did happen to YahooGroups?
Right now I don’t really get a lot of feedback on my work. One of my problems is that I write too much for anyone to keep up with. Also, people are busy and have lives and other excuses. But really, workshops have been so unhelpful and frustrating in the past that I’m not even sure I’d want to join another one. It can be great to get feedback on your work, but it seems like some writers are too interested in themselves to actually help anyone else.