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A Workshop About Running Workshops!

A wonderful morning was had at The Writers’ Place (New Writing South’s hub in Brighton), attending Evlynn Sharp’s ‘Running Brilliant Writing Workshops’. This thorough, thoughtful and inspiring workshop was for those who have creative writing skills and feel ready to begin passing their knowledge and experience on. Initially, I was sure that this event would dwell mostly on the structure of workshops, the admin behind them and planning a successful session. The schedule contained these points, but they became supplementary to topics of far greater value. Of the two and a half-hour workshop, one hour was dedicated to opening a session and ‘checking-in’ with the participants; how putting a bit of consideration and time in to this part could culture a safe and empathetic environment. 

Expectations, those of the attendees and of the facilitator, are important guylines that pull the structure of a workshop into shape. At the beginning we were given the opportunity to voice our expectations and hopes for the workshop and this act alone shifted the mood of the room, as we felt we had some say in how our time would be spent. It is often forgotten that workshops exist to produce something creative and hopefully learn a new skill. A facilitator who projects rigid ideas across the room can stifle or intimidate a writer who hasn’t been putting pen to paper long, or hasn’t previously shared words aloud and in person. 

Evelyn’s approach could not be further from this. Her workshop style is subtle and her exercises are prepared with back-ups and alternatives for every occasion. This practice is a result of a blend of empathetic understanding and decades of working in every kind of workshop environment. Although I am in comparison a new workshop facilitator, the knowledge Evelyn imparted this morning has given me confidence in my ability and a drive to pursue an open, considerate and empathetic style of creative writing facilitation. 

New Writing South always has fantastic events, but their line up for the coming months is especially exciting for me, and I’m really hoping to attend ‘Writing Around the Kids’ with Anna Jefferson (12th June) and ‘Pitching Your Work and Marketing Yourself’ with Anna Burtt (18th July). If you’re a writer, there aren’t many better places to live than Brighton!

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