How to Get the Most Out of a Writing Workshop

Diane Callahan
11 min readDec 16, 2023
How to get the most out of a writing workshop with a collage of photos: a workshop table, me reading, a bay view, a notebook for writing by writers

Feedback supercharges our growth as writers. Left to the company of our own minds and keyboards, we make assumptions about how readers will experience our stories — surely, they’ll connect with the main character right away, or they’ll never guess that big twist. But we don’t know those things for certain until we hear others discuss the story in real time, showing us what lands and what needs further clarification.

A writing workshop provides exactly that and often feels like eavesdropping on a book club composed of writers. I’ve attended several workshops across the years, including in my undergraduate English program, the virtual Kenyon Review Fiction Writers Workshop, and the incredible Words After War.

Recently, I embarked on an in-person writing workshop with Writing By Writers, where I could gaze out at the sparkling waters of Tomales Bay in California and pace amongst the pines as I tried to untangle the latest story knot that my peers’ feedback had brought to light.

A bench with pinecones overlooking Tomales Bay
One of my favorite secluded spots to read and reflect on the Lodge at Marconi property

Writing workshops take a variety of forms, but the most common is where writers submit their stories ahead of time, their peers read them, and then the group discusses each…