Building a Community: The Second K-Pop Writers’ Workshop

The K-Pop Writers’ Workshop began with two goals -- to encourage writers, new and old, to continue writing by providing a place to improve themselves, and to bring back a sense of community among K-Pop writers. The first workshop last July was a success, but it barely scraped the surface of the two long-term goals we set. However it achieved two very important things. First, a promising idea proved to be just as promising when put into practice -- I and core group are in agreement that this is a project we wish to continue and further improve. And personally, this is a practice I would like to leave for later generations to carry on. Second, we have established that the workshop system is indeed effective for both improving technical writing skills, as well as critical thinking -- the two most important aspects of K-Pop writing, and the two central skills that this workshop demands. The revisions made at the end of the first workshop speak for themselves, really.

However, the most important lesson the first workshop taught is that the writing workshop model, as tried and tested as it may be, is also highly flexible. Any number of factors can affect the nature of the workshop at any given time -- the way it is run, the additions to the basic model, and most importantly, the participants themselves and the pieces that are workshopped. That flexibility allows a workshop to bring together a diverse set of writers and still continue to create an environment that’s conducive to improvement. It is for that reason that each workshop is different, and for me as the workshop head, each has to be approached differently, and each has lessons to teach me. It’s all about refining the model, catering to the needs, and dynamics, of each group.

Majority of the changes and additions that will be introduced in this second workshop were prompted by the first workshop -- what worked, what didn’t, and what could still be improved. These new aspects will, for sure, affect the dynamics of the workshop -- for the better or worse, we don’t know yet. What we wish to emphasize though is that these changes are not an attempt at permanency. The basic format of this workshop is refined enough, but what we do with that format and where we take it is always subject to change and improvement. The K-Pop Writers’ Workshop as a whole aims to take advantage of the flexibility we are given, so this second workshop will be very different from the first. All workshops will be different from each other.

Considering that one of our main goals is to build a community of writers, we have decided that the thrust of the Second K-Pop Writers’ Workshop will be the social aspect of writing. The first workshop focused mainly on the writing itself -- pieces were submitted, feedback was given, revisions were made, and posted again. While it was a very serious and professional atmosphere that had its merits, as a participant of the workshop myself I found very little opportunity to socialize further with the participants I didn’t already know. Which is why we will strive to provide more concrete opportunities to socialize, while keeping the professional atmosphere that the first workshop had.

One way of bringing the social aspect to the foreground is the addition of “free for all” posts -- one before posting begins, and one during revisions. The first will serve as a space for introductions, for participants to get to know each other before posting begins, while the second will serve as a space to discuss the feedback given, as well as suggest methods and tricks for revision.

Another observation made from the first workshop was that there was no way of making sure that all eligible participants posted their final revisions. Posting revisions is the final stage, and a short break was provided just before posting re-opened, which partially destroyed the workshop’s momentum. In response to that, this second workshop will provide an incentive aimed mainly at new writers, but also very much open to those with more experience. Participants who complete the workshop will be considered for recommendation to Beyond Hallyu’s writing staff. After the workshop ends, two participants will be chosen from those who have completed their revisions, and will be highly recommended for hiring by Beyond Hallyu. The choice is strictly skill-based, but the piece that will be evaluated will be the final revision, and therefore requires that this revision is published.

Beyond being an incentive, our partnership with Beyond Hallyu is yet another way to expand our community and give K-Pop writers a reason to stay in this community we're building. For new writers it is a chance to learn to write in a team setting, where the work you do inevitably reflects the entire team, and where you are compelled to write on a regular basis. Most importantly, the writing position will give you what this workshop cannot -- continuous, long-term, improvement. While we’d like you to keep coming back to the workshop, we simply cannot offer you the same kind of stability that a writing position like this will. For more experienced writers as well, this opportunity is yet another venue for publishing as well as critique, as well as a reason to continue writing about K-Pop.

The final change we will be implementing, will, however, be long-term. The core group of the first workshop had four members -- myself, McRoth of McRoth’s Residence, Mel of Melismaticdiva and Ree of Seoulbeats. Though core group members are not given special treatment in terms of rules or deadlines, and even in the criticism of their works, they participate in all workshops and are regularly consulted about workshop progress and changes to the system. And, if there is one permanent aspect we’d like to promote in the workshop, it is that we have a steady number of participants, and a steady core group will greatly help keep our numbers constant. In line with this, we’d like to introduce a fifth member to our core group -- Shweta of Seoulbeats and A Splash of Inspiration, a friend of ours who was also with us in the first workshop. She is an extremely talented writer, and we believe that she has a lot of good things to contribute to the workshop dynamic in the long-run.

Amidst these changes, what I wish to guarantee is that the two main goals of The K-Pop Writers’ Workshop will not be forgotten. We may be emphasizing the social aspect this time around, but the main focus of the workshop is still on improving writers of different backgrounds, educations, and skill sets. If you are a new writer with questions or concerns, or if you are not very sure of what direction to take, we encourage you to join the workshop as you will definitely have a lot to learn from the other participants. But we also think that as a writer yourself, you have much to teach us, and much to contribute to this workshop. We want to tap into your potential, and we want you to go places with it. Likewise, if you are a veteran writer, you know that writing is a continuous process, that there is always something to improve -- it will be our pleasure to help you further improve your craft.

I look forward to getting to know you, and your work, very soon!

Workshop Head


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