Home 9 So You Want to Write a Book 9 Writing Workshops: Helpful or Harmful? Ep 21 of So You Want to Write a Book with Suzette Mullen

Writing Workshops: Helpful or Harmful?

So You Want to Write a Book with Suzette

The writers’ workshop: a model that was developed in the 1940s by white male writers critiquing the fiction of other white male writers. Does that model help—and hurt writers today, and is there a better way?

In this episode of So You Want to Write a Book, Suzette is joined by YA author Jamie Beth Cohen as they discuss the issues raised in Craft in the Real World by Matthew Saleses, including the traditional writers’ workshop model that a majority of western writers have trained to believe is THE way to get effective feedback on their works-in-progress. Be prepared to have your assumptions about craft and the writing process challenged. Are you ready to shake up your thinking about the rules of writing? Let Suzette help you open your mind.


  • When we talk about craft, we are talking about “rules” like “show don’t tell, narrative arc, conflict, voice, etc.

  • This author believes that “pure craft is a lie.” There is no such thing as a “neutral rule.” It’s about who gets to make the rules. It’s about the expectations of the audience, and who is that audience.

  • The traditional workshop model where the author must be silent as others comment on their work (the so-called “gag rule,”) may work well for writers who already hold power and need to listen more than talk, but it does the opposite for writers whose voices are already silenced or devalued.

  • This book challenges writers to look beyond what many of us have taken for granted—here, that this workshop model is the way to critique works-in-progress—and examine the bias behind it.

  • Who should read this book? Any writer, or coach who supports writers, and who is interested in elevating diverse voices.

    Be sure to listen or watch our latest show for more tips!

ABOUT So You Want To Write A Book

My goal is to break down the complex process of becoming an author so that you can finally write the book that’s been nagging or tugging at your heart. Even if you never plan to write a book, I’ll share tips that will help you become a more informed reader or a more effective writer in your work life.

So take out your pen and notebook (okay, your phone or laptop!) and let’s get started!

Learn more about me and my book coaching secret sauce at www.yourstoryfinder.com 

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So You Want To Write A Book is produced by The Candy Factory Collective for SO GOOD LANCASTER, another great project of The Candy Factory Coworking in Lancaster, PA. The show is produced by Anne Kirby with production support by Anna Tran and Jason Mundok. Administrative support by Arianna Henderson. 

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