Friday, January 22, 2010

Teach a Class? Sure!

I've agreed to do a ninety-minute seminar on social media for Northern Colorado Writers on March 1st. This will be an overview for beginners, including a discussion of the importance of social media for writers. I'm going to focus on Blogger, Twitter, and Facebook.

Doesn't seem like too large a task, does it? After all, I'm familiar with all three venues. I'm pretty good at figuring things out. I have no problem talking to small or large groups. And I'm not afraid to say, "I don't know, but I'll find out," when asked a question for which I have no answer.

Teaching a class or workshop is a lot more complicated than I first thought. In 2008, I gave a one-hour presentation called "Let's Write a Mystery" for the Northern Colorado Writers Conference. I put together a detailed handout, included three pages of writing resources (with a list of helpful websites and blogs). I practiced my presentation over and over to make sure I would cover the important material in that one hour. And I packed a big box of debut mystery novels for show and tell, letting my attendees know that "these authors did it, and so can you."

My next teaching experience was a two-hour class in "Self-Editing One Step at a Time," held at the Northern Colorado Writers Studio. Again, I had the self-editing steps down on paper with an extensive handout and a list of resources for writing improvement. Practice makes perfect, so I worked on talking through my presentation to make sure I stayed on topic and could handle two hours of talking. During the class, I was so involved in the presentation and answering questions that I was ninety minutes into the material before I remembered to give the class a break.

This class and the handout provided additional opportunities as the self-editing series has appeared as a series of posts on The Blood-Red Pencil blog and is now running in Kerrie Flanagan's new writers' newsletter, The Complete Writer.

So here I go again with the seminar on social media. I need to fine-tune my focus, prepare my handouts, pull my presentation together, learn how to use the projector with my laptop computer, practice the talk many times to get the content and timing right, and then just do it.

There are good reasons for writers to take on projects like these.

1. Exposure for your name, your published work, and your related skills.
2. Networking, meeting new people.
3. Broaden your own knowledge as you research and prepare your topic.
4. Gain the experience and knowledge required to get paid for your presentations.

Even if you're not comfortable with this idea now, you might like it if you give it a try. It's one more way for writers (and artists) to promote themselves and their work.


Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds like a great idea, Patricia! You'll be great :)

GutsyWriter said...

I was on a panel about blogging two weeks ago. I developed a speech on 5 reasons why it's important for a writer to blog before publication. I enjoyed it tremendously. Thankfully it remained fairly basic, but everyone wanted to buy a FLIP camera, like the one I'm using on my blog. I should ask the company for a commission. Please come over as I have an award for you.