Showing posts with label Writing Workshops. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Writing Workshops. Show all posts

Saturday, December 08, 2012

An Interview with Sanora Bartels, our Poetry Workshop Leader

As many of you know, Sanora Bartels will be leading a one-day poetry workshop on Sunday (tomorrow!).  This is a special treat for us because she doesn't do this very often.  I had the chance to speak with her about the importance of the poetry workshop experience and how it can help elevate your writing.

Why do you feel that poetry workshops can help improve a writers work as opposed to taking a regular class?

"You, as a writer, get to devote an entire day to your art and really go deep with your writing in order to clear any blocks you might not even know about! The same thing can happen with a weekly group but since you aren't spending the same amount of uninterrupted time writing, it may take longer..."

How else can a writer benefit from a one-day intensive workshop?

"The one-day intensive is a great way to jump-start your creativity and get in touch with your muse with a number of writing prompts instead of the normal three we do in about an hour of writing time every week."

Obviously poetry is a deep passion for you as well as for many other writers.  What's the motivation behind the passion?

"Poetry works the same way an excellent movie does.  It gives you images with which to relate and then either pulls back to give you the bigger picture or telescopes in to the tightest focus and allows you to see a truth that had previously escaped your notice."

What really hits home with you when you write poetry?

"The thing I love about poetry is the economy of language and its ability to really change your point of view with a powerful image."

Any word of advice to aspiring writers reading this?

"Write.  Sit down and write.  Your creative muse is shy and will not come to you unless you are still. The muse reminds me of my cats.  If I'm distracted or moving, they want nothing to do with me.  If I sit in peace and turn my attention to the page or the computer, suddenly I have a cat on my lap. That's how I know my muse must be in the room as well."

Here is the information about our poetry workshop tomorrow if you are interested in participating:

Poetry Workshop
Sunday, December 9th
10:00am - 4:00pm
Glassell Park, CA

Join our mailing list for first notification of upcoming poetry and creative writing workshops

Sunday, November 27, 2011

January 2012 writing workshops schedule coming soon!

Photo of our West Hollywood writers' group
Our 2012 writing workshops are coming soon!

We've already scheduled the West Hollywood January 2012 writers group.

We are also in the process of restarting our writing craft book club.  Our first meeting will be in early January so be sure to click over to our meetup so you can buy the book and join us either in person or virtually via our message boards!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hermosa Beach. Pier Ave. Writers Group!

There's more to do on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach than partying, tanning, and rollerblading! Now there's our newest writers group! This group is the same format as all the groups we've been successfully running since 2003. Better yet, it's in a parking-friendly part of Pier Ave, at Planet Earth Eco Cafe. The group starts at 7:30pm on Wednesday, May 11th and the cafe will be closed to the public during group (the cafe closes at 5pm daily, but go there and stop in before 5pm because they have yummy drinks and vegan and vegetarian food). Part writing workshop, part critique group, part creativity booster, our groups are more than just a group of writers gathering together to review each other's work. They are professionally led by a qualified moderator so you not only benefit from peer review of your work, but you also get critique on anything you bring in from our professional group leader.

We are delighted to announce that our Pier Avenue writers group will be run by Miranda Valentine:

Miranda Valentine is an East Coast native soaking up sunny Southern California, where she lives with her husband and two rescue dogs, Bailey & Lola. She holds a Master of Professional Writing degree from the University of Southern California, where she was fortunate to learn from some of the best writers in the business, including The New Yorker staff writer Dana Goodyear, The Atlantic Monthly editor and memoirist Sandra Tsing Loh, and best selling novelist Gina Nahai. While her first love is the short story, she adores her work as a contributing writer for Bunker Hill Magazine and, and as the editor of the popular lifestyle blog Everything Sounds Better in French. She is currently working on a memoir about love, loss, and what to do when your ex’s new wife appears naked on your computer screen. It’s tentatively titled “Reboot”. Just kidding...

Writers of all skills, levels, and genres are welcome in our groups. It works for everyone whether you write poetry, memoir, literary or genre fiction, essays, or screenplays and we hire moderators for their specific ability to provide cross-genre feedback, and for their overall supportive nature.

Los Angeles Writers Group, Hermosa Beach
Date: Starts Wednesday, May 11th and meets once a week for 8 Weeks
Time: 7:30pm - 10:00pm

Fill your notebook.(tm)

Email any questions you may have to

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Why join a writer's group or a writing workshop?

Nicole forwarded me this email from workshop moderator Kat Smith, and it felt relevant to post a piece of her message for our blog readers. If you're still on the fence about joining or participating in a writing workshop of any kind, perhaps her words will sway you:
Young musicians practice daily. A singer doesn't begin with an aria. She starts by warming up her vocal cords. A pianist practices his scales every day from a young age. An athlete doesn't begin with a triathlon. He spends hours lifting weights, stretching, building the muscle mass and flexibility that will support the feats he intends to achieve.

Writing is no different. We become writers with daily practice. Getting in touch with our unique voices. Writing fast, writing free. Progress may be so incremental as to be unnoticeable, just as a pianist doesn't go from chopsticks to Chopin. Some days you'll hate what you write. But one day, something astonishing will come pouring out of you and you'll wonder where the hell it came from.

It came from the 1,183 writing exercises that preceded it. Exercises where you trained your mind to focus, where you learned to trust your voice, to step out of your way, to let it flow. Practice writing like practicing scales, may not seem very glamorous. Bring your passion to it anyway. That's the work of an artist.
Kat also included the following video in her message. It features Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Boys, giving his take on consistent writing:

It seems as though a constant flow of writing is the best way to find your best work. Even small exercises on a consistent basis can help keep you in good practice. I myself participate in's writer's groups, and I completely agree with what Kat and Ray have said. Writer's groups and writing workshops provide their members the opportunity to practice their skill in an open forum with other writers just as dedicated to their craft. So I ask you this: do you practice your writing on a consistent basis? Do you think that this "fine tuning" and practicing approach can be effective?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Writers Group Starts Wed Sept 23, 2009!

Wondering what we do in our groups?

Upcoming Los Angeles Writers Groups:
Our groups meet once a week from 7:30 - 10:00pm for eight consecutive weeks.

Wednesday, September 23rd in West Hollywood
Thursday August 20th, 2009 in Glassell Park

What can I expect from the group?

Our groups focus on finding new ways to create new and unexpected material through creative writing prompts. Our tagline, Fill Your Notebook (TM) says it all. We are about filling your notebook with new writing so you can go back, pick the pieces you like best, and refine them. You can either bring works-in-progress into the group for feedback or you can wait until the end of group and go through everything you've written. Our peer feedback process is a constructive and guided process. We have rules we follow that keep the feedback process from degenerating into arguments or defensive posturing and everyone participates in the feedback process, whether you bring work in or not.

What kind of work can I bring in for feedback?

You can bring anything in for feedback. Poetry, essays, non-fiction, chapters from your novel, short fiction, memoir, whatever. We've even had people bring in query letters for feedback. We've had people bring in notes for a project. We've had people bring in segments from a one-man show. Anything you're working on that you think feedback from fellow writers would be valuable, bring it on it.

For even more information on how our groups work, visit these links:

How our writing groups work

Friday, August 28, 2009

Guest Blogger Coming Soon!

Carl Bartels, a Los Angeles cinematographer, is new student to and is joining our Official Blog roster! Carl recently joined the Thursday night writers group in Glassell Park and can't wait to share his experience and thoughts about writing. Keep an eye out for his postings!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Two New 8-Week Writers Groups Scheduled

We've now scheduled our Fall 2009 writers groups. Both groups are our 8-Week General Writers Groups that are open to writers of all kinds and levels, including (but not limited to!) fiction writers, essayists, non-fiction writers, novelists, and even screenwriters.

  • Nicole's Group 8-Week General Writers Group in West Hollywood on Wednesday, September 23rd (this group is good for writers coming from West Hollywood, West Los Angeles, Miracle Mile/Fairfax District and the Southwest and Northwest San Fernando Valley (Encino, Woodland Hills, Reseda, Van Nuys, Sherman Oaks, North Hollywood) and surrounding areas).
  • Sanora's Group 8-Week General Writers Group in Glassell Park on Thursday October 15th (this group is good for writers who want to join a writers group who are coming from Glendale, Burbank, Los Feliz, East Los Angeles, Atwater Village, the Northeast and Southeast San Fernando Valley and surrounding areas)
See for further details, or read more about how our Los Angeles writers groups work in this previous blog post.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Writer's Faire '08 ~

If you enjoy being surrounded by hundreds of fellow-writers who are interested in learning more about perfecting their craft, this Sunday's free UCLA Extension Writer's Faire, an annual gathering of the writer's community, is just the thing for you! Featuring 24 mini-panels that will focus on every aspect of writing, from "Getting Started as a Writer" (at 11:00 AM) through "Living Your Live as a Writer" (at 3:00 PM), this festive occasion will give you the opportunity to explore many different realms of writing. Screenwriting, fiction writing, nonfiction, poetry, playwriting, writing for the youth market, getting published, getting produced, getting started, getting into an MFA program, getting to the heart of a story – all will be explored at the Faire! Six panels will be run simultaneously in six different classrooms, so you are sure to find discussions that will interest you! Seating is first-come, first-served, so arrive early to get a prime spot. After the panels, you can talk with the instructors in the courtyard, get writing advice, and have them sign a favorite book (their publications will also be available). This is also a great opportunity to meet and network with other writers and make new friends!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

LA Times Festival of Books Writing Seminars

For the very first time in the Festival’s history, six intensive 2-hour writing seminars are being offered featuring worldwide renowned writers in an intimate setting – only 50 seats per seminar!
  • Tickets will be open to the general public when the Festival program is published in the Sunday, April 20th edition of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Tickets cost $100 per seminar.
  • Tickets can be purchased online at or at select Ticketmaster locations, including Ritmo Latino, Beverly Center and select Macy’s locations. Only 50 seats are available! Tickets are not available over the phone.

Ron Carlson

Saturday, April 26th, 11:00am – 1:00pm

Title: The Short Story: Surviving the Draft

Celebrated author Ron Carlson will lead this 2-hour seminar with a lecture including samples of fiction from his work and others that illustrate the craft of fiction writing and the way forward into the darkness. His primary focus will be on the short story and will talk about the entire process: idea to draft, with all notes in between focusing on surviving the draft. A Q & A session will be incorporated towards the end of the seminar.

Novelist and short story writer Ron Carlson has received citations in Best American Short Stories twelve times since 1984. His work has appeared in a variety of publications including Harper’s and GQ. He is the author of two story collections, “Plan B for the Middle Class” and “The News of the World”, and three novels, the most recent of which, “Five Skies” is his first adult novel in more than 20 years. Ron currently teaches at University of California, Irvine.

Thomas Curwen

Saturday, April 26th, 1:30pm – 3:30pm

Title: Bring on the Lions: Writing the Non-fiction Narrative from the Inside Out

Human beings are hard-wired for narratives. We fall effortless into the spell of a good story, and there is no greater game than capturing a portrait of life that keeps readers hanging on until the bitter end. Yet the road to writing a successful narrative is dark and perilous. It is also both an art and science. It begins with sound reporting and a love of language. It combines strategic pacing with a jazzman's sense of rhythm. You must be a strong writer, a good editor -- and finally, you must love what you're doing. In this seminar, Thomas Curwen will have an extended conversation about the writing and pleasure of a good story. So bring pen and paper, and be ready to write, talk and discuss the meaning of this wonderfully foolhardy endeavor.

Thomas Curwen is an editor at large for the Los Angeles Times. He has a master's degree in Creative Writing from USC and was a recipient of a 1991 Academy of American Poets prize. In 2002, he received a Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for mental health journalism.

A. Scott Berg

Title: Biography: Telling Lives

Saturday, April 26th, 4:00pm – 6:00pm

A. Scott Berg will conduct a two-hour seminar on Life Writing in its various incarnations--including “objective” biography, autobiography, psychobiography, memoirs, and diaries. Part lecture, part question-and-answer period, the class will examine some of the elements that go into the writing of life stories--selecting a topic, primary research, interviews, secondary research, organizing and analyzing material, writing and rewriting techniques.

A. Scott Berg is a renowned biographer of "Max Perkins: Editor of Genius," for which he received the National Book Award, "Goldwyn: A Biography”, which bestowed upon him a Guggenheim Fellowship, and "Lindbergh”, for which he was awarded 1999's Pulitzer Prize for biography. His most recent book is a memoir of a legendary star Katharine Hepburn, called, "Kate Remembered." He is currently working on a biography of Woodrow Wilson.

Jane Smiley

Sunday, April 27th, 10:00am – 12:00pm

Title: Write a Novel in Two Hours!

Or not! What is a novel? How do you write one? Novelist Jane Smiley will use material from her book, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel”, to illustrate some of the ways an aspiring writer might approach his or her own ambition to write a novel. Lecture, Q and A, and discussion will be interspersed throughout the two hours. Seminar participants may read the two chapters in Thirteen Ways entitled "A Novel of Your Own, part 1" and "A Novel of Your Own, part 2", but advanced preparation is not essential.

Jane Smiley is one of the most beloved novelists and author of more than ten works of fiction. She is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, and in 2001 was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She received the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature in 2006. Her latest novel is “Ten Days in the Hills”. Smiley lives in Northern California.

Robert Pinsky

Sunday, April 27th, 12:30pm – 2:30pm

Title: Listening to Words: The Vocality of Poetry

Robert Pinsky will lead this 2 hour seminar by concentrating on the physical materials of poetry: the sounds of vowels and consonants arranged to make words and sentences. As when someone is noodling at a piano or shooting baskets or playing with paints or whittling, the physical material sometimes draws out ideas and feelings. The group will view some of the Favorite Poem Project videos from the DVD included with an Invitation to Poetry. A Q & A session will be incorporated towards the end of the seminar.

Robert Pinsky, an American poet and former Poet Laureate of the United States, is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently, “Gulf Music: Poems”. He received the 1997 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and was a Pulitzer Prize nominee for “The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996”. He is also the author of several prose titles, including “The Sounds of Poetry”, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Stephen J. Cannell

Sunday, April 27th, 3:00pm – 5:00pm

Title: Television, Film and Bestselling Novels

Stephen J. Cannell will lecture on how to adapt a novel to the screen. He will talk about modifying and condensing material without compromising its creative content, how to interface with the marketplace and get your work seen, as well as tips on construction when writing novels, screenplays and for television. A Q & A session will be incorporated towards the end of the seminar.

Stephen J. Cannell is the bestselling author of numerous novels, including the critically acclaimed Shane Scully series, which includes his latest installment, “Three Shirt Deal”. He is one of television's most prolific writers, having created or co-created more than 40 shows, including The A-Team and 21 Jump Street. Cannell has received multiple awards including the Marlow Lifetime Achievement Award from Mystery Writers of America and the WGA Paddy Chaefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement.

For more information on the Festival of Books Writing Seminars, please contact Elizabeth Samson at or go to

Friday, August 24, 2007 Workshop for Advanced Writers

The deadline is fast approaching to apply for our Workshop for Advanced Writers!

Clare Elfman, an Emmy-winning writer and successful novelist will be leading our Workshop for Advanced Writers beginning Saturday, September 29. This workshop will take place over the course of 8 weeks and meet every Saturday morning at 10 a.m. in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles. The cost for the workshop is $320 for eight weeks.

If interested in applying, please send a brief writing sample (a chapter of a novel or memoir or a short story or essay from a collection) along with a description of the project you would like to workshop with Ms. Elfman to Sanora Bartels at The deadline to apply is August 31st, 2007.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Colorado Writers Workshop

We just got an email from the folks over at the Colorado Writers Workshop and they still have a few spots open for the Sept. 19-23 Colorado Writers Workshop at Boulder's Chautauqua, and they asked us to pass the info along to y'all. "This year's fiction event features Janis Hallowell (Annunciation of Francesca Dunn, Pigs & Fishes). Our groups are good, the atmosphere supportive and the lodging is wonderful at Chautauqua's Missions House. For information see or contact Tara at"

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Warner Brothers Television Drama Writers Workshop

For those aspiring television writers:

"The 2007 Warner Bros. Television Drama Writers Workshop runs October 24 – January 30, 2008, meeting on the Warner Bros. lot in Los Angeles, California every Wednesday from 7pm to 10pm. Full participation is mandatory.

The Workshop is open for submissions July 1 - August 15, 2007. Submissions must be postmarked by August 15, 2007 to be eligible. Writers may submit as many scripts as they choose to one or both programs (please see the Comedy Workshop submission guidelines)."