12 April, 2012

Writing workshop fun

This evening I am not at home, I'm across "town" facilitating a one day Writer's Workshop for missionaries. It is the second workshop that my magazine editing boss and I have facilitated. The first one was last November, I talked about it briefly here.

We've kept it to a really simple format, that makes them quite easy to organise for people who are already pretty busy!

Here's what we do, if you're interested:

  • Everyone gathers after lunch. 
  • We spend about 1 1/2 hours together when we introduce ourselves as editors, spend time talking about the magazine, especially talking about our Writer's Guidelines. We talk a bit about tips for good writing. Though we don't spend a lot of time on that, we give them some resources to help them edit and improve their own work. And we answer any questions that come up as we go along. 
  • Then we release the writers to go and write for the rest of the afternoon and evening, only interrupting that for an evening meal together (for which we walked to a local restaurant tonight).
  • The next day is also free writing time for most of the morning, except that we'll start after breakfast with a short devotion and prayer time. 
  • An hour before lunch we'll meet together again to allow time for people to read any writing that they wish to and get helpful feedback from the other writers as well as us editors.
Our plan is to run these twice a year in various places in Japan. One of the goals is to build up a larger group of writers who will contribute to the magazine, it's been a little thin in recent years. 

But I also hope that through these we can encourage writers in the skills that God has given them. My feeling is that missionaries have many amazing experiences in the unusual lives that they live, very often those experiences are never shared beyond a very limited group of people. Many out there could be enriched in their faith if they heard the stories that missionaries have to tell and if missionaries could tell them in a way that is attractive to those who've never been outside their home country.

It's getting late and I need to get some sleep, so I'll finish here with a little humour. My editing boss found an excellent short handout that we've given our writers called "10 Writing Essentials". Really good, but I particularly appreciated the third point called "Avoid Jargon and Shop Talk". What is amusing to me is that they've used this example of what not to do:
Tempermental bowler, Rodney Hogg, smashed down his stumps after being given run out in Australia's first test against Pakistan at the MCG. Hoff was run out by Jared Miandad when he was out of his crease to put down the wicket after a defensive no-ball play.
It's funny to me because I understand all the jargon used here, every last bit of it. It is a story about a cricket match. Obviously this handout is aimed at Americans, and if I were to write it for Australians or British or some other cricket playing country I'd use a different example, like American football.

I'm enjoying the time with other people who are passionate about writing and communication. I just need to switch off my email tomorrow morning and get down to doing some writing myself! Goodnight.


-J said...

This sounds like such a great idea, and I'm sure it's wonderful to see goals becoming reality! Also encouraging whenever I hear of someone doing something "in their element" - where their passions and skills collide. You might like this article about finding one's element:


Jyojia said...

As the venue manager I'd appreciate any feedback (as long as it has nothing to do with power strips or fuses :)) for future reference. Your co-facilitator did a wonderful job of clearing up. Tx.

Wendy said...

Jyojia, thank you for the lovely clean, convenient venue! Some American and Australian English confusion i.e. power strips vs power board, just added to the fun!

I did hear a comment from one of the participants that she loved the sheets on her bed! I thought it was perfect for the number of people we had, too many more and it would have been squishy.

Next time we have the workshop in Tokyo, I'll be voting to have it at OMF JHQ!
Thanks, Wendy