Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | June 18, 2011

Why Attend Writers’ Workshops

   Last year I published the essay below to inform aspiring and successful writers how I learned to hone my writing abilities.  I’ve updated it.

   This year, 2011, The Alabama Writers Conclave is having their conference in my hometown, Huntsville, Alabama.  I’m going to this event and plan to attend workshops that are being taught by well-known writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and memoir.  The Conclave is a writer-friendly organization and the workshops are especially aimed at nurturing aspiring writers.   I hope you join me.

Where I Learned to Hone My Writing. 

  Like a cowboy, tending a herd of cattle, a creative writer must learn to rope unruly and feral words and bring them into the drove.  Otherwise, whatever he or she is writing will not create the hook that captures the reader or, in the case of an aspiring writer desiring to be published, a publisher and/or agent.  Techniques to accomplish this come from successful authors, who have learn the craft and are able to teach others.

     I’ve been writing for quit a few years and have had a few creative pieces published, but I still consider myself a writer in the mode of learning the craft.  Though I’ve attended college and received several graduate degrees, the knowledge I gathered didn’t give me what I needed to be a creative writer.  It geared me to a career in research and sharing my esoteric findings by writing and publishing my results in scientific journals.  Few people, beyond the scientists interested in my limited little corner of science, read my stuff.  Why, because this form of print is dry and succinct — only the facts, ma’am, only the facts.

     Writings that interest the masses need to be entertaining, instill emotion, and stimulate the senses in addition to relating the facts.  These are the qualities in a piece that a creative writer needs to perfect and sharpen.  One learns and hones these qualities by writing, reading, and listening. 

     ”I’ve heard this all before; so what’s the big deal?”  You say.

     It’s the latter activity, listening. 

     ”To whom?”

     ”Successful writers.” 

     I’ve learned to make my writings more interesting, entertaining, intense, acute, and effective by listening to writers who relate their experiences and knowledge at writers’ workshops where they teach in their specific genre: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, screen writing, children’s writing, etc.  These workshop are usually part of the agenda of a weekend conference of a well established regional or state writers’ organization.  The meetings are usually over a weekend and the teaching faculty are published and well known in their genre. 

      In the very near future I’m attending the 2011 Conference of the Alabama Writers’ Conclave.  And, while there, I plan to pick the fruits that will flavor my scribbling even more.  This conference has four writers’ workshops: fiction/editing, poetry, nonfiction, and memoir.  Respectively, the slate of notable authors presenting their knowledge and experiences are Chris Roerden, Dr. Sue B. Walker, Jenny Ivey, and Jim Minick.  “What a fabulous group.”  And the conference is also featuring Rabbi Rami Shapiro, the notable inspirational author, as the Writer-in-Residence. 

     What an opportunity to meet and learn from such a distinguish staff of writers.  If you are an aspiring writer or have any interest in the craft you should attend.  Information on the Alabama Writers Conclave and its conference can be had by visiting the website,


© Richard Modlin, 2011

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