‘Workshops are useful. They address the isolation of the emerging writer. While they are in progress, they act as encouragement and stimulus and they can often put together a critique, which remains effective even after they are finished. A good workshop, perhaps because it encourages poets to externalise their own interior discourse - with all the hesitation and hunger that involves - can bring a writer to a state of crisis in relation to his or her own work. In such a state, illuminations occur and discoveries are made which effect lasting change.’
Eavan Boland, The Salmon Guide to Creative Writing in Ireland (1991)
Workshops, unlike writers' groups, are not usually intended for complete beginners. Participants usually have a body of work, however small and unfinished, to bring to a workshop, or a number of publication credits in reputable journals and magazines.
Workshops fall broadly into two categories: ‘peer-led’ and ‘writer-led’, and into four different formats:
- Local writers groups meet regularly (peer-led)
- Creative writing classes, usually 6 - 10 weeks and usually writer-led
- Annual workshops, usually associated with festivals and writer-led, often by visiting writers with a high profile
- Residential workshops - there are several organisations running residential writing workshops of various lengths, from weekends to week-long or longer
In ‘peer-led’ groups, writers at a similar level of experience, meet to discuss their own and each other's work. Each writer present brings new work or work-in-progress which is read aloud to the group or circulated on paper. The group then respond with feedback and constructive criticism. It can be a bit daunting initially but most workshops do not expect newcomers to participate from the beginning. Just sitting and listening can be very helpful.
In ‘writer-led’ workshops an experienced writer leads the workshop, giving individual attention to each participant, going into detail on form, technique, metre and rhyme. Such workshops often include writing games and exercises.
You should also contact your local library and county council Arts Officer for information on creative writing classes in your area.
The Irish Writers Centre
19 Parnell Square, Dublin
Run a regular series of writing courses in poetry, fiction, writing for film and television etc.
T: +353 (0)8721302
Some Blind Alleys
Nassau Street, Dublin 2
Some Blind Alleys aims to expose students to great writing – classic and contemporary. Directed by fiction writer and essayist, Greg Baxter.
Big Smoke Writing Factory
7 Lower Hatch Street, Dublin 2
The BIG SMOKE WRITING FACTORY offers creative writing resources, classes and workshops.
Dingle Writing Courses
Creative Writing Ink
35, Granary Hall, Mount Oval Village, Rochestown
Offers class-based creative writing workshops, online creative writing courses and a manuscript critique and editing service.
T: (087) 2028310 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Poetry School, London
Poetry School activities take place in London, Exeter, Manchester and York,
by post and online, and in many other UK and international locations.
T:: +020 8223 0401/ +020 8985 0090; E: email@example.com
The Arvon Foundation, England
Residential creative writing courses covering many genres, including poetry,
fiction, stage drama, and writing for TV and radio.
M.A. / M Phil in Creative Writing
University College Dublin
’The MA in Creative Writing is a one year course of lectures, seminars,
workshops and supervision meetings which aims to provide committed writers
with taught classes on theories and practices of writing, and supervision of
a major writing project.’
Oscar Wilde Centre for Irish Writing, School of English, Trinity College Dublin
‘Focusing on the practical business of writing, rewriting and editing,
the programme also includes an introduction to the publishing industry, a series
of lectures by established writers in a wide range of genres, and the opportunity
to take one of the specialised options offered to students on the M.Phil. in
University of Glamorgan, Wales
‘A 2-year part-time Master’s Degree for writers of fiction and poets.
A unique flexible-learning scheme which offers students the opportunity to
develop their book-length manuscript under the expert guidance of University
tutors and prize-winning writers.’