You’ve had some success with your writing. You’ve been published, by a publisher or through your own efforts. You’ve decided you want to help others discover the joy can writing can bring through creative writing classes. You may even have hired a room and advertised your own classes. That’s a great place to start, but how can you expand your portfolio of creative writing workshops.
The best way to build your reputation as a creative writing tutor is to link with bigger organisations. They’ll promote your workshops to their databases of service users or customers, so you’ll have access to more students, and they’ll provide you with a venue and other facilities. You’ll be more likely to receive a fixed payment for your workshops, so you won’t be dependent on the number of people who enrol for remuneration. In general, you’ll be taken more seriously as a creative writing tutor if you can prove your track record working with other organisations.
So where are these elusive opportunities to be found? What’s the best way to approach these organisations and which are right for you?
Libraries are very receptive to creative writing workshops, though their budget can be limited, as they’re funded by public money. They run them as part of larger themed events in their libraries, such as festivals that promote literacy or celebrate the positive aspects of ageing. Their staff are extremely proactive and will do everything they can to make sure they have what you need to run a successful workshop – even provide refreshments. They also have a wide pool of members, so getting the numbers for your workshops shouldn’t be a problem, especially since they’re usually free to participants.
If you’ve already started running evening creative writing workshops, the next natural step is to approach an organisation in your area which runs night classes. This may be a private college or a college run by a State organisation charged with delivering education to adults, such as the new Education and Training Boards in Ireland. You will be included in their brochure, but be sure to supplement that with your own promotion, so you won’t be buried in the brochure. Creative writing is a popular subject and may already be offered by that college, but you can find ways around it by offering classes in a particular genre of writing, such as crime fiction.
Festivals in your local area are always looking for new ideas to fill their programmes, and some of them have budgets to pay for workshops. Arts festivals are the most natural fit, but you could approach organisers of other festivals whose theme fits with your writing, such as a heritage festival for writers of historical novels. You need to approach festival organisers start planning their events at least six months in advance, so bear that in mind. Also, you may be expected to take sole responsibility for your event: finding your venue, setting your own fees. But you’ll still be under their banner, so it’ll still boost your profile.
These observations are drawn from my own experience of running creative writing workshops for organisations. What have your own experiences been as a creative writing tutor working with organisations?