Many Romance Writers of America chapters offer online writing workshops for members and nonmembers. They cover a wide variety of topics like: 50 Ways to Leave Your Muse (Joy E. Held), Building Your Street Team (Penny Sansevieri), and Creating Compelling Characters (Ally Broadfield). My chapter offers all of these classes and more plus occasionally How to Teach a Workshop. The RWR magazine that is included in National membership is urging people to teach.
One of the reasons is that the use of video group learning is a wonderful way to stay in touch with others. Isolation can be challenging even for writers who need the time alone to write and think and edit. You need to be reminded that there are others out there going through the same struggle. Feeling useful as a teacher can be very rewarding.
What topic would you choose? That depends on what you feel excited about and skilled on the topic. Years ago when I was active in the Society for Creative Anachronism, I taught classes on Creating Your Persona. A persona is the character you wish to portray in the SCA. Members portray their characters at many different levels. Some go so far as to “Speak Foresoothly”. Many take pride it exact details to their costuming. As a writer, I took pride in knowing the story of my persona’s life.
I would start with picking a country of origin. As someone who loves her Irish heritage, I planned my persona to be 14th Century woman of Noble Birth who had a reformed monk as an uncle. He taught her to read and write, so she could keep his ledgers when he became a merchant on the Spice Trail. Are you lost yet? SCA backstory didn’t have to be complex, but mine was.
From country, we picked time period, and I always reassured the students that until you were granted your Award of Arms, your persona was not written in stone. Changes were allowed. Names were based on country and time period and could change easily. Some members of the society had two different personas to use, one for formal occasions and most events, one for less formal and more barbaric times.
I don’t think I could teach a class for Writers on this subject because characters in stories are much more solid and unchanging. There is little overlap. However, those classes taught me that I love to get in front of a class and teach. So I have done workshops at various fan conventions locally. I have given a stack of photos to the class, asked them to pick one that inspires them, then have them write for 15 minutes. After that, whoever wanted to could read their work to the class and get feedback. Those are always fun.
Another class I taught was all about laughing. Having fun with writing is one way to kick writer’s block and become inspired. Or just have a day off. The exercise is called Delectable Corpse, and I would hate to play that these days! Must think of new name. The idea is to use actual paper, a long sheet of lined College Rule paper and pens. The first person writes whatever story beginning they wish and after 3 lines, puts only one word on the beginning of the 4th line. The paper is folded over to cover up all but that one word, then it’s passed to the next person who writes whatever they want starting with that one word. The end result after the paper has been passed around the room is usually sensationally silly and causes laughter that endangers the need to breath.
What would I teach now, online? Maybe how to write a blog about writing. I don’t do the affiliated links yet, so don’t know if anyone would be interested. How to do Facebook Author Pages might be useful. And How to Sprint every day for two sets of 30 minutes. Having finished two books and started a short story, starting on Monday, I will be editing for all I am worth. Because we write only to rewrite. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.