Organizing a writing workshop can be rewarding. Follow these simple steps to make it a success.
Organizing a writing workshop for a small group of people can be a fun and rewarding experience. It may seem like a huge endeavor, but if broken down into steps everything should run smoothly.
Establish a Need
Think about why you’re having the workshop. Maybe your writing group wants motivation and input of ideas. An accomplished writer visiting or living in your area may have offered time. You may wish to raise a little money for your group. The major reason should be having an enjoyable day thinking about writing with like minded people.
Choose the Workshop Focus
A workshop needs a theme or writing focus. Decide with your group what your workshop will be about. Themes include genre writing, how to write ideas, getting published – you’ll think of many more. Make sure it will appeal to a range of people.
Choose an Organizing Team
This group could be as small as two people. Having more than one person helps distribute the workload. A range of skills, such as managing the budget, advertising, and local knowledge, is needed.
Find a Presenter
The success of any workshop relies on its presenter. The presenter needs to be an able speaker, knowledgeable on his or her topic and have the skills to keep people motivated and involved all day. Ask the presenter how many people he or she prefers to work with, as too many take away the individual benefits of the workshop. Find out what the presenter will charge and any travel expenses that will need to be refunded before making a final decision.
Set the Time and Location
Choose a time that suits the presenter and the majority of people in your group who are likely to attend. Decide on the length of the workshop and set a starting and finishing time. Once these details are known choose a suitable venue.
The choice of venue will depend on cost, location, access to the building, room size, possibly kitchen facilities, and anything else that will make the workshop comfortable.
Decide on the Programme
In conjunction with the presenter, decide on the programme format. Ideally the day will be broken into shorter sessions and include such elements as the presenter talking to the group, discussion sessions, opportunities for attendees to write, feedback on writing and question time.
Establish a Budget
Once all the facts above are known a simple budget can be drawn up of anticipated costs. This will include venue hire, presenter’s costs, refreshments or lunch, photocopying and advertising. Decide whether or not you wish to make a profit for your group from the workshop. Then, having decided the optimal number of attendees, work out how much you’ll need to charge each person, in order to at least cover costs.
Advertising the Workshop
Because the numbers attending will probably be small, advertising need not be expensive. Start by inviting your writing group members and members of any other writing groups within travelling distance from the venue. Contact local schools, universities or adult education establishments nearby. Youth groups and church groups are often happy to spread the word of such workshops. Tell people the maximum number of places at the workshop and that these places will be filled on a first come first served basis. Sending out an e-mail to these people with all the details eliminates advertising costs. Encourage people to register and pay early, giving details of where this should be sent.
Day of the Workshop
On the day of the workshop make sure you and your organizing team arrive at the venue early to set up the room and greet the presenter and attendees as they arrive. Have a host to greet people as they arrive.
Ensure housekeeping matters such as toilets, fire exits and any other matters that may need to be known are dealt with before the workshop begins. At the end of the day make sure the venue is left exactly as it was before you started. Keep a list of attendees and their contact details, in case you decide to run another workshop in the future.
Once the Workshop is Over
If you’ve followed these guidelines you should finish the day feeling happy and satisfied. All that is needed now is to make sure all the attendee’s money has been banked and that any bills arising from the event are paid. Sit back and congratulate yourself and your team on organizing a successful workshop.
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