workshops in new york city


i'm starting a new writing group tomorrow. i would normally be attending my women of color workshop at imani house, but we stopped meeting for the summer. rather than allow my writing muscles to atrophy, after copious research online, i've decided on the sackett street writers' workshop in brooklyn.

my workshop is being taught by benjamin hale, an iowa mfa grad. i applied for fiction I/II, but the director, after reading my novel excerpt, said she thought i'd be perfect for fiction III. i would pat myself on the back, except a handful of the other writers are already published and i'm gonna need to get over my inferiority complex first. my writer confidence meter has been slowly recovering from a major dip these past few months. this either could be exactly the kick in the ass i need, or extremely deleterious to my entire process. i will need a couple of weeks to assess which one.

at any rate, we get a chance to workshop 50 pages, which will be great for me if i can get some editing work done in a very short time and feel confident about the work i submit -- and also receive the kind of support/constructive feedback that will spur me to write more, instead of shutting down creatively. it's a roll of the dice, but i'm hoping it's the better of the two options.

for those of you looking for NYC workshops across a range of artistic disciplines, see a short list i came up with after six years of trial and error -- plus some serious web surfing. you can take it with a grain of salt, but i've been around awhile, so i would take my word for it. lol! --AL.


Women of Color Writers' Workshop @ Imani House -- I used to sit in class with Push author Sapphire. What a trip! If you're a woman writer of color, and you're ever in NYC on a Wednesday night, you have to stop by. It's absolutely the best thing that ever happened to my writing and life (met some of my dearest and closest friends there). And we're on Facebook!

The Field -- I must also mention the fieldwork workshops at, well, The Field. It's a small group setting where you can workshop works-in-progress with a group of peers for a fairly low cost. They have workshops across all disciplines -- theater, dance, writing, music and multidisciplinary. On break for the summer, but check back in the fall if you're interested.

Sackett Street Writers' Workshop -- Here's a little blurb on the MFA blog with quite a few comments from past participants. The small group setting with extensive feedback, one-on-one instruction, and meetings at the instructors' homes sounds right up my alley.

Dance New Amsterdam -- Though currently embroiled in a heated dispute with their landlord, I hope DNA will stick around for a long time. I just took a workshop with Ronald K. Brown/Evidence a couple of weeks ago, and I take a modern dance class there at least once a week.

The New School Cont Ed -- The progressive fiction course with Robert Lopez sounds amazing. The courses are pricey, but seem high quality.

School of the Visual Arts Cont Ed -- They teach everything under the sun at SVA Continuing Ed -- sculpture, writing, advertising, film -- and I hear the vibe is wonderful. I really (really really) want to take a B&W photography course. Really.

Hunter College Cont Ed -- Hunter actually offers an evening MFA program for $5K a year (in-state tuition). I wish I had known that all along!

Brooklyn College Cont Ed -- Writing courses are only offered online, all non-credit.

Mediabistro -- I took a screenwriting workshop taught by D.B. Gilles way back before I went to film school. In hindsight, it contributed nothing to my getting in to NYU, and it probably would have been much smarter (and more cost effective) to buy a screenwriting book and spend some time writing instead of paying a bunch of money for a three-hour "crash" course. There really is no crash course in writing. You just have to put your pen on the page and write (and write and write). Sorry to break it to you! But if you have a very specific goal, like breaking into magazine writing or chick lit, this might be a great option for you.

Gotham -- I took a free memoir class a couple months ago with Cullen Thomas. It was just okay. I think Gotham courses can be hit or miss, but it's become a moneymaking mainstay of the NYC literary scene.

Asian American Writers' Workshop -- I don't know much about them, but the reviews I see online seem pretty good.

92nd Street Y -- I've never seen more expensive writing classes in my life! That said, their dance classes are pretty good and i took a great Write-to-Dance workshop with Christal Brown a few years ago. Not sure if she's teaching it anymore, but check it out.

NYS Summer Writers Institute -- If you have the money and luxury of taking a couple of weeks off of work, this sounds absolutely divine. It's in Upstate New York, but I just really felt like adding it to the list.

Hofstra Summer Writers' Conference -- I'm sad I missed out on this, it seems affordable with quite a bit of literary bang for the buck.

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  1. This makes me wish I was in New York...
    Need to try and compile, or find an equally compiled list for London!
    Good luck at the workshop, and pat yourself on the back!


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