Writing is challenging, but participating in our workshops is easy and free.
BWW participants get together for ongoing Workshops and Discussions of individual works in a variety of genres at Burlington, Montpelier and Middlebury.
Here’s a 10-step guide on how the Burlington Writers Workshops (BWW) work.
- Join The Burlington Writers Workshop group at Meetup.com. We use their service to share our scheduled workshops and keep track of attendance.
- RSVP to a BWW workshop at Meetup.com. Sign up for as many as you like. They are typically limited to twelve participants. If the workshop you want to attend is full, please be sure to get on the waiting list. Spots open up all the time.
- Read the work scheduled for discussion. The files for each upcoming workshop are usually available at least a week in advance and can be found here. If you have any problems finding, downloading or opening the files, please contact your workshop leader.
- Regarding Sensitive Material: Sometimes, our workshop writers submit material that deals with sexuality, violence, racist characters, war, trauma, and other potentially “triggering” subject matter. You are encouraged to preview the work and avoid any workshop that offends your sensitivities or muster up the courage to attend and share those feelings as part of the feedback. Your comments are always welcome and the choice to attend is always yours. BWW tries to provide writers with an open and unrestricted forum that encourages absolute freedom of expression and exploration.
- Download and print the files for each workshop you plan to attend. Your markup and written comments (explained below) are provided to the submitting author after the discussion of their work has completed. This provides a valuable collection of reference material for the writer.
- Read the submitted work. Prose submissions are limited to 20 double-spaced pages. Poets will typically submit no more than 3 poems per session. Read and write your comments and reactions in the margins and in between the lines as you see fit.
- Provide your response. Please type and print your response, though if handwriting is your only option, that’s fine, too. Bring it along to share with the author. You are welcome to use the networked printer at the BWW space if you need it.
- What should a good response contain? Comment on what works well. Point out the parts that resonate with you. Then, with tact, respond to the elements of the piece that didn’t work so well. But remember: These responses aren’t supposed to be judgments. They’re supposed to give the writer an idea of how the piece affects you. The BWW in general follows the principles spelled out in this essay: “On Giving Feedback.”
- Discuss live. Plan on talking with your scheduled workshop participants about what you’ve read. The author does not participate in this discussion. They are placed in an imaginary glass box, able to only listen to what is said without entering into the discussion. Feel free to ask questions, disagree with your fellow participants, and build on things other people say. It’s intellectually stimulating for you and for the writer!
- Learn more about good discussion techniques here.
1. Take a look at the BWW schedule for Burlington, or the schedule for Montpelier, or the schedule for Middlebury. A blank space on a given day indicates an available spot. [Identify the day you want, then fill in and submit the associated form. Please take care to enter your correct email address where asked.*]
[* Oct. 2018…we’ve had some technical problems with this form. Until we get them straightened out, please send a note directly to email@example.com
with your name, submission date requested, etc.]
2. Within 3 days, you should receive an email confirmation and see your name on the schedule for the day you requested. If not, please send a (polite!) note to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can straighten things out.
(Note: If your name shows up on the schedule but you don’t receive an email, most likely you entered an incorrect email address. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!)
You’re on the schedule and you need to post your writing. Here’s how you post it:
1. Format your files correctly. Good examples are this template for prose and this template for poetry. Limit 20 pages of prose or three poems unless instructed otherwise by the workshop leader. Note: We ask that you put at the top of your Word Document any trigger warnings that may be necessary. Survivors of traumatic experiences, such as sexual abuse or war, may need a warning before diving into your piece. Trigger warnings are not invitations to disregard a piece of writing; we believe this is a fair way to make everyone feel safe.
2. Post your files on this page. Do this at least 7 days before your workshop so that the participants have a week to read your work.
If you have questions, please contact us. We’re looking forward to meeting you!
Note: while most of our workshops follow the MFA model where a writer submits work for feedback by peers, we do experiment with other formats. The Saturday Fiction Craft Workshop (also called Reading Like A Writer), Poetry discussions and occasionally traditional workshops lacking submissions, all require prior reading. These files are also posted on this page. Source material for other groups, like the Tuesday night Lit group, the occasional podcast or improv groups are linked on the workshop page.
We’re always open for new ideas. The path to leadership is through the workshops. contact us.