Lady Hazmat's picture
Lady Hazmat is reading Various Titles September 4, 2012 - 5:04pm

Hey All - 

I want to take one of the upcoming classes, but I'm concerned about time requirements. I work and take night call during the week, but my weekends are largely free. For folks who have taken classes in the past, in your experience will weekends give me sufficient time to participate in coursework or should I hold off on registration until my schedule is more flexible? 

Thanks!

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig September 4, 2012 - 5:15pm

It depends...they usually require a story/scene per week, in my experience between 1k-3k. There is class discussion and lectures to read, but you can check in whenever you have time. It basically comes down to how prolific you can be in a week's time.

.'s picture
. September 4, 2012 - 5:36pm

Keep in mind though, make sure you have enough time to put towards the class so it's worth the money and your not wasting anybody's time, even your own. It is agitating when a class member drops out or just plain doesn't have time to review stories or post any. 

Treat it like you would a normal class. Because it is, just on the internet. 

Which class are you thinking of taking?

Amloki's picture
Amloki from Singapore is reading Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks September 4, 2012 - 6:39pm

I've yet to pick up a course, though I'm tempted. I'm working on a novel-- and may not have enough time to devote on the assignment. Do the assignments require creating new characters and settings, or can I simply borrow those from my work in progress?

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig September 4, 2012 - 7:16pm

In the two I have taken there hasn't been a requirement to create a new character/setting. In the one I am doing now myself and two others are putting in bits and pieces from their novel works-in-progress that fit the lectures and assignments for that week.

Lady Hazmat's picture
Lady Hazmat is reading Various Titles September 4, 2012 - 7:21pm

I'd like to take the plotlines course because I've got a notebook full of ideas but I struggle with developing the ideas into a full story. 

Amloki's picture
Amloki from Singapore is reading Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks September 4, 2012 - 7:30pm

Thanks very much for your reply, SparrowStark. Did you find the courses useful? What were they about and how would you rate them on 1 to 10 in terms of learning new craft?

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig September 4, 2012 - 8:49pm

Both courses I took were with Lidia Yuknavitch. The first was Ecstatic States and it changed me fundamentally as a writer. She really turned the light bulb on as far as all those things we like to say about "going on the body" and stuff like that. I am finishing up Age of Immersion and it is helping me make tracks with my novel, as well as giving me "permission" to play with other ideas I've been brewing. She is a fantastic instructor and really brings a lot of interesting things to think about and promotes a way of writing that is very freeing.

Both have definitely helped the quality of my writing. Ecstatic States would be an 11 on a scale of 1-10. Age of Immersion has not been as life changing, but it is very good for my writing and inspiration, I'd give it a solid 10.

underpurplemoon's picture
underpurplemoon from PDX September 4, 2012 - 10:10pm

SparrowStark, you did peer reviews too for the classes?

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig September 4, 2012 - 10:19pm

Yes. The set up is Lecture/Discussion/Assignment each week, and you review the other students as well as recieving feedback from the instructor.

Amloki's picture
Amloki from Singapore is reading Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks September 4, 2012 - 11:43pm

A 11 out of 10, and 10 out of 10 is high praise indeed. Once my WIP is nearer completion, I'll have to sign myself up to a suitable course. I like the course on plots starting on the 6th, but I don't think I can take it on right now and do it justice. Thanks for your opinion, Sparrowstark, appreciate it.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. September 5, 2012 - 8:57am

From taking a class, I can give you this:

1) Make sure you know a few people who are taking the class.  The class forum is only as active as you and your classmates make it, so find out who's taking the class and how dedicated they are. Drop-out rate will increase throughout the class.  Having the friends you can count on and the right time of the year so they stay in the class are really key.  

2) Don't take the class in a busy season for you.  I'd really say, "Don't take a class during summer."  Summer seems to have taken half the attention of the class, because they had so many things to do (took the instructor a bit, too).  Along with #1, this is key.  There were 4-5 people in the end who were there for every moment of the class and took it as seriously as if it were a job.  They made the class.  Without them, it would have been a waste.

3) If you aren't prepared to spend at least 1 hour per day (or 5 hours per week) on the class, then you're not getting what you've paid for.

4) However many posts you normally make in a forum, double it.  Ask every question that pops into your mind.  Start new threads with ideas of your own that come from the lessons.  Be active to the point of being annoying.  You will miss out on a lot if you don't put forth twice as much effort in learning than you normally would.  The instructor can only respond to what YOU want/need.

Your instructor loves you and wants to help you grow.  They are very dedicated and talented.  Take advantage of this.  If, at the end, you have bugged the shit out of them, then at worst they'll say, "That person really wanted to learn."

drea's picture
drea from Rural Alberta, Canada is reading between the lines September 5, 2012 - 9:47am

I respectfully take exception to bryanhowie's points one and two. I knew absolutely nobody in the first class I took (the original Ecstatic States) and out of that group, I have become a member of a tight cohort of poets and writers who continue to work and write together (since last November)  - most of us have met up in real time. Neato. That class ran over Christmas, which is about as busy a time as it gets for me. 

So my advice? Take the class when you want it so badly that you ache from it. Take it when you are tired of thinking, dreaming, talking about writing and are ready to push your sleeves up and get down and dirty with the work. Take it when the instructor and the topic sing a siren song to you. JUST TAKE IT! 

I have taken 4 classes here since November. Two with Lidia Yuknavitch, one with Suzy Vitello Soule *which runs again starting September 13th and would be AMAZING for you Amloki if you have a work in progress. She could really save you a lot of time revisioning if you take this course early on in the work's development* I have also worked with Vanessa Veselka, who just won the Pen Robert Bingham Prize for 1st Fiction with her book Zazen. Fantastic. I LOVE LITREACTARDS! and I agree wholeheartedly with bryanhowie about the dedication and talent of the instructors and estimation for minimum time you need to allocate to a workshop. 

ps - there will be flakes in every class and you can't predict who will drop out. It is highly annoying. It is also annoying when you spend time reading through someone's work and then they don't do the same in return for yours AND YET they post comments in reply to their own work- feedback is a system of reciprocity and selfish pigs ruin it for the rest. Whaddareyagunnado? 

 

drea's picture
drea from Rural Alberta, Canada is reading between the lines September 5, 2012 - 9:48am

ps sparrowstark is a dedicated workshopper and I would not hesitate to write along with her again. I really appreciate your diligence and dedication, Renee! 

 

underpurplemoon's picture
underpurplemoon from PDX September 5, 2012 - 11:03am

Totally agree with bryanhowie.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig September 5, 2012 - 11:28am

Awe thanks, Drea! I've loved taking this trip with you!

 

And I agree, I took Ecstatic States without knowing anyone, AND without having read Lidia's book. The course spoke to me and covered things I felt like I needed "help" developing. I DID read Chronology of Water in about two days when someone loaned it to me the first week, and later bought it so I could make EVERYONE read it, but the course was an amazing experience, and it was actually nice to get reviews and discussion from people I didn't know who just wanted what I wanted--to learn new stuff and get better.

In fact, I only tangentially knew Drea before Age of Immersion. She happened to see that I was taking Ecstatic States sometime after she did and we talked a bit about it, then found out we were both in Age of Immersion. It's fun to "know" someone, too--but it definitely isn't a requirement! 

OtisTheBulldog's picture
OtisTheBulldog from Somerville, MA is reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz September 5, 2012 - 11:40am

I took a class and it was great and the first few weeks I was on top of it. Then I had a vacation (I thought i could keep up during, I couldn't. I should have waited til the next go round) then work started blowing up and I didn't participate like I wanted to. So I didn't get out of it all that I should of and that's completely on me. I also didn't support all my classmates at the end like I would have wanted to and that's completely on me as well (though I will say, during wk 2 when everyone seemed to be into it, only about half actually critiqued my story anyway).

I didn't "know" anyone but I do think Bryanhowie's points are worth considering. 

The good part about it all is that you can go back into "your classes" and review the lectures, stories, discussions, etc, etc. You can go back and do the exercises on your own time as well.

So the bottom line, is that you definitely get your money's worth based on how much you're able to do. I think you do need about an hour a day or 7 hours a week to read, discuss & write. Maybe a little less. But I'd say 5 minimum is a safe bet. Your mileage may vary.

I would and will definitely take a class again when I have the time & money. Though i believe my next forray into $400 classes will be at a local place with excellent teachers and actual in-person people. Nothing against you internet folk, but sometimes I like to take advantage of my Boston residence and actual humans!

Does LitReactor offer some cheaper classes that are maybe a one or two week or one day seminar? I would participate in those more frequently. I don't always have the coin for the classes that span weeks but "lesser" classes are easier on the budget.

OtisTheBulldog's picture
OtisTheBulldog from Somerville, MA is reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz September 5, 2012 - 11:42am

Also, re: participation: I've done workshops/lessons in the flesh as well and it's the same thing, people start dropping out. The difference is, if you're unprepared, you just won't show up to class. The "being there" is a little more of a motivator for me when I know I have a meeting on a Thursday night and homework leading up into it. I need to be more disciplined with online studies.

drea's picture
drea from Rural Alberta, Canada is reading between the lines September 5, 2012 - 1:17pm

"In fact, I only tangentially knew Drea before Age of Immersion. She happened to see that I was taking Ecstatic States" -  Renee, if you look through the threads and our PM's, you will see that I basically held a knife to your throat and told you to do it after I saw you hemming and hawing - lol. SO worth it and so glad that you did. I know working with Lidia has been as revolutionary for you as reading her for the first time is for most of us. 

Back to the subject of time required for the classes, some weeks I spend around ten hours on workshop stuff. Lidia often integrates film into her lectures and things like 36 page essays by Baudrillard.

The really nice thing about this format is having eternal access to the lectures, feedback, references, recommendations and assignments here. 

 

 

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig September 5, 2012 - 1:46pm

I think I already decided to take it, but you were emphatic that I not change my mind :P 

Amloki's picture
Amloki from Singapore is reading Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks September 5, 2012 - 4:49pm

This is a very informative (and encouraging) discussion, thanks to everyone who dropped in a word, and Lady Hazmat who started the thread.

@bryan I understand and agree with the point you're making about knowing the peers, but since I joined the site yesterday as a workshop member, I don't 'know' anyone, really. And I don't think I can meet up with any peers in real life, cos, well, I live in Singapore. If I learn a few things on the craft from the mentor, and a few from my peers, I'll already consider it money well spent.

I'm very tempted by the course starting September 13th (thanks Drea for suggesting it, I was already looking at it with deep longing!)-- I have a work in progress, I'm into the 16th chapter, so this could be useful.

There's a writer's festival in Singapore (not the best in the world, but then I don't have that many choices) and having 3 reasonably polished chapters on a novel will work well for me.

I just have two concerns--

--will analysing the first 3 chapters at this stage kill my enthusiasm for the rest of the novel? This draft is the first one, and it sucks, and this is my first novel (I've had loads of short stories published before, but a novel is a different beast). I hope I don't get blocked by all the critiquing that is a normal part of any workshop. I usually have loads of objectivity with my short stories, but feel kind of vulnerable with my novel right now.

--I have all the time in the world in September and the first half of October (so I can do 15 hours a week for the course), but I'm likely to be missing in the third week of October-- family obligations. Will missing out in the last week of the course completely screw things up for me?

Stacy Kear's picture
Stacy Kear from Bucyrus, Ohio lives in New Jersey is reading The Art of War September 5, 2012 - 5:56pm

My 2 cents, 

I have taken one class and participating made all the difference. I took it when I had a family vacation during the last week of the course, family obligation. I made it clear to my family that the class was a priority and important to me, they were very supportive.  There is always time available, we waste an incredible amount of time during any given day and just don't realize it. I have a full time job and two extremely busy kids. I was disappointed with the participation but we pulled together as a group a bit and did peer reviews for people not in our assigned peer groups.

I am gonna take my next class in a colder month, I think participation and attention spans would be greater. 

If you don't have time to dedicate to the class, don't take it.  It is a waste of money and leaves the other classmates lacking in the support they signed up for. It was the peer reviews and not the teachers critiques in my class that were the most in depth, I had Howie though. :-) 

So in conclusion, I recommend taking a class with Howie, Renee, sounds like Drea is a participating queen and myself. There are others I'm sure, I just can't name them. I am being cheeky here, so nobody jump on me, take any class that interests you, just come prepared to work..

drea's picture
drea from Rural Alberta, Canada is reading between the lines September 5, 2012 - 6:01pm

Revisions are never a pleasure process, so wondering if the analysis/feedback of a workshop will kill your enthusiasm for the project vs. imagining WHAT the input from someone who knows their shit enough to hold her own with the likes of Palahniuk, Yuknavitch, Strayed, Cain, Drake, etc. week in week out and contributes to those writers going on to crank out best sellers is somewhat myopic, in my really humble opinion, Amloki. Feedback from fellow workshoppers is easy enough to weed through, too. 

For your second question, I don't think missing one week will be a detriment as the lecture and assignment will be there for you whenever you'd like, and I am sure if you asked Suzy, she would work with you. I had to miss a week of one workshop due to a death in the family and one of the instructor's kindly offered to read future work if I emailed it to her. 

 

Note- this reply was not endorsed by LitReactor or any of the instructors and is soley the opinion of the author put forth to be taken whichever way the recipient sees fit ; ) 

drea's picture
drea from Rural Alberta, Canada is reading between the lines September 5, 2012 - 6:06pm

Great points, Stacey Kear - and no offense taken : ) 

Amloki's picture
Amloki from Singapore is reading Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks September 5, 2012 - 6:17pm

Stacy-- I take your point about wasting time--but in my case this week off wont be a vacation-- quite the opposite: spending time physically working like a dog the whole day, and fending off unpleasant people I have no intention of spending time with but am forced to. Traumatic, to say the least.

I can work very hard on the first 5 weeks, but the 6th  week will be a toss out, I think. I'd love to be in a class with you, Drea and the others you mention-- but I'm not sure how I can work that out...I joined the site yesterday, literally. :)

Drea-- Totally agree about mine being a myopic view, this class sounds like a great opportunity.

Where I'm coming from is this tho: last time I was 30,000 words into a novel, I gave it for a beta read, and it still lies in my drawer, 4 years after the fact.

I can have short stories ripped apart and go back  to them without problems, and have had several critted stories published in good anthologies. But novels seem to be different. This time, I've again gained courage and written about 36,000 words in about 5 months after a few months spent outlining-- and am jittery about getting a crit.

I'll just have to weigh the risks, I think-- like most writers I've met, I'm mighty insecure. I still have some time to sign up, and am hoping to get some inputs one way or the other before I absolutely have to make a commitment.

Thanks for being kind enough to reply at length-- I appreciate it. I also know you're right. I'm just afraid.

Stacy Kear's picture
Stacy Kear from Bucyrus, Ohio lives in New Jersey is reading The Art of War September 5, 2012 - 6:30pm

If you work hard four out of the five weeks you will be putting in more effort than about half of the class I was in, so go for it. The class also stays up longer than the actual 5 weeks from what I can tell so you could do some peer reviews even after the class officially ends. 

Amloki's picture
Amloki from Singapore is reading Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks September 6, 2012 - 12:14am

Thanks, Stacy. Still agonizing over this decision-- yes, it does help that the lecture etc stay on for a while.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. September 6, 2012 - 8:28am

Also, TAKE NOTES.  I've said it before, but it's probably the most helpful thing I can tell you.  Get a pen and paper, write down everything that sounds important to you.  Writing it will reinforce it in your head.  Write down the examples.  Write down everything you can.

Then, if you really want to get the lesson down, type it up.  Use your own examples now.  Post it in the forums so other people can see what you learned.  Talk about your examples.  Use the forum like a goddamn idiot.  

Discussing the lessons are as important as reading them.  Find examples of them in other writing.  Draw pictures of them if you need.  Whatever it takes to make those lessons your own.

David Ireland's picture
David Ireland from London is reading Confessions of an English Opium-Eater September 6, 2012 - 12:23pm

Great thread. I'm new here, just been getting started in the workshop. I've already signed up for Suzy's class and I'm planning on being active throughout. I'm just starting a novel, so the class seems like it'll be a good fit for me. I had some reservations about it, if I'm honest. But some of your comments have reassured me. Thanks!

Amloki, if you sign up (or even if you don't), add me as a friend. We can buddy up.

Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce September 6, 2012 - 2:03pm

Late to the party here... but my advice is super short.

Don't do it if you have a 15 hour a day, incredibly stressful job like I did the first time I tried. I was probably one of those people that pissed off jacks_username, because I dropped out soundlessly the second week. It was that, or have a nervous breakdown because I couldn't devote every waking hour to my soul devouring job.

However, I took a class in June, sans shitty soul destroying job. Easy! Even with moving to a new country and having to set up a life in another hemisphere. 

From my experience, I'd say you need perhaps 3 hours a day. 2 hours where you can write and edit, and an hour where you can interact with your classmates and review. If you have that much you can devote per day, easy done :)

Amloki's picture
Amloki from Singapore is reading Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks September 6, 2012 - 5:27pm

@bryanhowie Thanks, that sounds like very solid advice.

@David I'm signing up today. I think (!). I had my doubts, but have managed to work around them. I added you as a friend.

@ Mess_Jess At the moment I can devote lots of time to this, but I will probably miss out the last week. I'm hoping I'll do enough work in the first five weeks that I can afford to do the last week on my own time. And if I participate fully in the first weeks, maybe the instructor and the peers would cut me some slack in the last one.

 

Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from Danville Virginia is reading The Iron Council, by China Mieville September 7, 2012 - 10:16am

Right now I'd love to sign up for a class, but I too am in one of those bad work periods with no time, so I'm waiting for a better moment. But I loved my class this summer. A good contingent of us have stayed in touch afterwards and are an amazing and encouraging group of writer pals to work with. I live in a smallish, isolated town, and I haven't enjoyed this kind of supportive group since I left a large city a while back. If I hadn't made that leap of faith last summer when I took my first Litreactor class ( without knowing a soul in it!), I would have missed out on a life-changing experience. Do it!

Amloki's picture
Amloki from Singapore is reading Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks September 7, 2012 - 4:29pm

Jane, thanks for dropping in with your words-- I've made my leap of faith, and your account of your experience is encouraging!

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks September 7, 2012 - 8:19pm

Really, I should stop reading these forums. Every time I see Drea and Renee talk about taking a class with Yuknavitch I ache with agonizing jealousy. That's how intense my desire to take one of these classes is. I'm with Otis -- I'd love to see a set-up that somehow integrates one important concept in a two or three day long class, or lecture seminars, or something.

Howie once talked about commenting on the craft articles, and I liked that idea, but I don't like the idea of checking back on each one every day for new comments. I suppose the forum could work, like posting a link to a lecture and then discussing it, but it's hard to get people invested in things like that. Again, Howie posted two great threads about technique theories and I still visit his profile to pull them up, but they died fairly quickly.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig September 7, 2012 - 8:29pm

Courtney--honestly--get a piggy bank. Save those pennies. This is the first round of the new one so you know there will be more.

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks September 7, 2012 - 11:18pm

Well, I made the step up to a bank account, but yeah, I'm saving. It's hard as hell because my textbooks and shit made a major dent, but I'm determined to at least take Ecstatic States if it's offered again, if not her other class. Fuck, I'll take out a loan if it's necessary.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig September 7, 2012 - 11:26pm

I don't normally recommend people taking out loans, but if Ecstatic States is offered again, I recommend anything short of a felony. It's worth it.

 

And, for real... I have a big ass coffee can with a hole in the lid where we toss loose change, I bet I've got a bit of money in there. It doesn't hurt to have somewhere to toss those nickels and dimes rather than giving exact change somewhere. That is, I guess, if you still use cash regularly.

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks September 7, 2012 - 11:32pm

I have a stockpile of change in my wallet and the sunglass holder in my car. The only place I ever use cash is at drive-thrus and gas stations, so it winds up getting put in one or the other. I have around ten dollars between the two stashes, but I never remember that it's there. When I do, I cash it at Coinstar and stick it in my savings account. I think I feel safer not having it -- that way I don't use it.

Stacy Kear's picture
Stacy Kear from Bucyrus, Ohio lives in New Jersey is reading The Art of War September 8, 2012 - 3:47pm

Single Mom two kids, no savings. I am going the asking for a class for Christmas present route and hopefully the stars align and I am able to take a kick ass class. I was so productive when I had to be, now I am floundering, making posts like this one instead of writing. Is there going to be another War soon, I think I'll participate this time.