Bag of Tricks (Tools of the Trade)

Writing Workshops: A Writer’s One-Stop Shop

Writing Workshops is a great alternative for everyone who's missing Catapult

Was anyone else as crushed as I was when Catapult announced they were closing shop on their magazine and classes? Never mind my momentary panic about my registered classes (my two current ones are still finishing out). What about my PITCHES?! I had at least two I was polishing with the intent of pinging Tajja and Stella. Now what was I supposed to do? (The heartbreak was real) But then I looked at how many courses I’ve taken through them. I’ve taken away some definite gems from that resource. What was I going to do? Stop learning? (NOT an option) I had a momentary panic attack. Then I realized I already had an answer, courtesy of another resource – and one that’s already offering to step into the breach: Writing Workshops.

Recap: Why Learning Matters

No writer knows everything. And anyone who does, you should steer clear of. The industry changes constantly (as evidenced by the announcement). There’s always more to learn, and you can always refine your skills. Yes, writing (and revising) grows and refines your work. But so does sitting down and working with someone else. Especially if that other individual happens to be a complete stranger.

And if you venture off the beaten track and decide to learn something new, it can have a real impact on your writing. You learn to look at things in a new light. Or you gain a different skill you didn’t have before. (Or maybe you simply find a new way to blow off steam when you’re imposter syndrome is overwhelming you)

My point is, you need to seek out opportunities to level up your game.

Put your work in front of people who can tear it apart and offer you advice on how to improve it. And get in the right environment where you can ask questions and pick the brain of someone with a little more knowledge than you. (Note: I said a LITTLE – not ALL)

This allows you and your writing to constantly get better and better. And resources like Writing Workshops offer those opportunities year-round. So they fit neatly into whatever kind of schedule you happen to have.

Writing Workshops

I’ve tapped Writing Workshops a few times: for a brief class, a writing retreat, and a full-blown mentorship. (Yup, they do it all) And, overall, I’ve had a positive experience.

I worked with the lovely Elizabeth Teets in a class on writing about your ex. Cathartic, hilarious, and enlightening. I walked away with this stunning essay – and a new outlook on a time in my life I was ashamed about. (Also, Elizabeth is a wonderful person to work with)

I’m also currently in the middle of a mentorship with Constantine Singer for my YA fantasy novel, Oubliette. I started the year with eight chapters I wrote during NaNoWriMo in 2018. I’ve since completely rewritten thirteen chapters – all for the better. (Without losing my original story) That’s insane productivity! (We won’t discuss that I’m taking time out here to write this)

Writing Workshops works with industry professionals who genuinely care about you, sit down and examine your work, and then stay in touch with you after your class ends! They’re invested in your work and writing career. And that’s no small thing.

And, of course, they offer retreat opportunities around the world, for both fiction and nonfiction writers. The chance to sit down and critique work with peers while exploring new locales. That’s something you didn’t find in the Catapult roster!

Sure, I had a mixed experience, but that wasn’t necessarily true for everyone. (The extroverts had a ball)

Finding Writing Workshops

Yeah, losing Catapult was a blow to the writing world. But there ARE other options out there. And sitting down to improve your writing is the important part. You’re investing in yourself and your writing future.

It’s better than sitting back and expecting the world to notice you, right?

You have to keep learning and growing. I don’t regret for a second the time I’ve spent in classes. I have always taken away some kernel of knowledge. And my writing has improved each time. Published essays from pitch classes. An essay placed in an anthology. And the likelihood of a completed novel draft? Yeah, I’m not about to complain about those things.

RIP Catapult.

Let’s move on to the next opportunity.

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