see also Taller de escritura (Spanish)
Writeshops are face-to-face workshops or meetings with the specific objective of writing a document/publication. There isn’t much talking and discussions, but participants write the document individually or in a small group (if it is a joint publication).
It is particularly useful if you want to have authors concentrated in writing a particular document in a short time, following an outline that is well explained on the first day of the writeshop. The document authors will be preparing can be based on an existing publication or something totally new.
Once you have selected the participants of the writeshop, do a pre-workshop discussion (usually on the phone) and explain the process, what is expected from them, the outline of the publication (developed in advance and shared with the participants), and the authorship and disclaimer of the publication to be produced. It is also useful to develop ToR for participants.
On the first day of the writeshop, go through the outline again and the authorship disclaimer, so participants are aware of any copyright issues. Also discuss the publication audience and writing style to match the audience.
Participants prepare a first draft of the publication and share it with facilitators and with peers (2 or 3 people). After receiving feedback (prepare a guideline on how to give feedback), participants prepare a second draft, which will be shared again with peers and facilitators. Once the draft is improved, facilitators send the document to a professional editor, who will provide feedback on language and content flow, always having in mind the audience of the publication.
When the document is edited, it goes back to authors for accepting or rejecting changes and it is ready for layout.
Individual laptops, access to wifi and a printer, USB sticks for each participant, flipchart stands and paper, colour cards and markers.
If the content of the publications is too specific, you need two types of facilitators in the room. The first type is the facilitator who knows well the process of writing, the outline and the language in which the document will be written. The second type of facilitator is the expert in the content, to verify if what is written is accurate.
You will also need a good language editor, who will work from home, sometimes overnight.
Some people come to the workshop thinking they know how to write and in 1 or 2 days they will have it ready. Our experience shows that most of participants are used to write academic papers. When asked about writing to a non technical audience, they have a lot more difficulty than expected. Some people were not able to finish in 3 days as planned.
Recently I participated, as a facilitator, in a series of 3 writeshops, in 3 different locations, in 4 languages. It was a challenge as participants had different levels of language and writing skills. Each workshop produced 10-20 four-page briefs which are now part of a series, called The Futures of Agriculture. The briefs can be downloaded at http://www.egfar.org/content/foresight-write-workshops
What we have achieved in the 3 days workshop could have not been achieved with virtual interactions. The peer-to-peer and face to face interactions were crucial for the quality of the publications.
Cristina Sette, Knowledge Sharing and Learning Specialist (c.sette[@]cgiar.org)
Guidelines for conducting writeshops: http://www.kit.nl/net/KIT_Publicaties_output/ShowFile2.aspx?e=1739
Authorship and disclaimer notes: http://www.egfar.org/sites/default/files/authorship_and_license_disclaimer_1.pdf
Terms of reference for authors: http://www.egfar.org/sites/default/files/terms_of_reference_participants_1.pdf
Writeshops; write workshops; writing
Credit: Cristina Sette, GFAR Write Workshop, Rome 26 June 2012
Cristina Sette (c.sette[@]cgiar.org)