Thursday, 24 June 2010

workshopaholics anonymous

"WHY NOT BE A WRITER?" demands a long-running advertisment designed to make writers feel guilty if they happen to catch sight of it with a hangover. Well, I can think of three good reasons:

1. There's no money in it.
2. It's a miserable existence and you never meet anyone.
3. Except other writers, who tend to be embittered misfits.

But if you still insist on this interesting career choice, you may feel you need some kind of training for the job. That makes sense. Any profession requires certain skills. You wouldn't think of becoming a doctor without a thorough knowledge of golf, or a lawyer without the basic computational skills to count large sums of money.           

Writers also needs skills. For example writers must learn how to develop ideas, characters, plots, and a taste for very cheap food. They must also learn how to present and pitch their work, how to conduct themselves in meetings and how to look pleased when another writer you know achieves success, and pretends he's inviting you to his launch party because you're a friend and maybe he can introduce you to some people but really he just wants you there so he can gloat, the bastard.

So, how can a writer acquire these vital competencies? The answer for many people is a workshop. No matter how many books about writing you read, the really invaluable lessons about the craft are only brought to life in an individual learning experience with a genuine failed writer.

The following is an overview of some of the types of workshop on offer. But I must declare an interest: I run writing workshops myself. Of course, I'm a highly successful professional, while most workshops are run by people who've never written anything more important than a biography for the online dating agency profile which they hoped would attract the human beings they're too dysfunctional to encounter in their non-existent social life, and who'd then give them a reason to go out once in a while instead of sitting at home every evening, obsessively analysing the story structure of the Star Wars series. But, hey, don't go running away with the idea that I'm brilliant and everyone else is total pants. That's my idea, so you can just run straight back here with it. However, my assessment of other people's workshops is completely fair and objective. And if you believe that, you possess an imagination so powerful and vivid that you don't need anyone's workshops. Otherwise, here are some of the typical courses on offer:

The Myth of the Wounded Anti-Writer's Journey.
This course uncovers the Mythic Resonance of the Hero's Journey that forms the Deep Structure of all successful films except Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Learn the Thirteen Principles of Dynamic Storytelling. Then discover the Nine Master Principles behind them. Then unearth the Six Secret Archetypes concealed underneath the Master Principles. Then discover the Wounded Heart of the Sneaky Antihero hiding in a motel owned by the Secret Archetypes. Finally, confront the most potent myth of all - that any of this stuff is a good reason not to finish the screenplay you've been writing since 1989.