Every writer is unique. Your voice when you have found it must be truly your own. When it is, it will come from the inside out. Nobody should try to urge a new writer in a direction that is foreign to them. It is the many various voices that make the world of writing so rich.
Constructive criticism by the leader and all those attending a workshop is offered to each would-be writer to stretch them. Destructive criticism has no place and is never tolerated. However, as writers, we all have to face criticism at some time. But we must resolve that no matter what is said about our work in the future, we will not be stopped in our endeavour.
I don't think new writers should concern themselves with such questions as: a) How to get an agent? Or b) What kind of payment they should receive for this type or that length of work. When I was a student these questions took up valuable time in almost every workshop. The truth is the questions are irrelevant, and will continue to be for some time. So be patient. Your mission for now is to find your voice and what you are about. Believe in your work, the joy, or the terrible compulsion in carrying it out, and the rest will take care of itself. That doesn't mean we mustn't be ambitious; but let us be ambitious for our work's sake and not for any reward it might bring.
Competitions are useful and are a good means of getting published for beginners. Look at small magazines in book shops. The Poetry Centre is a good place for lists.
What a new writer really needs to begin is passion, obsession, imagination, and the guts to take what may be a long road towards their eventual goal. And they need too the desire to get to the very essence of the thing that obsesses them and will not let them be; the courage to hang on when everything appears to be blocking their way.
These workshops are not conducted on an intellectual or educational basis. You will not be pressurised into doing something you feel unable to, until you yourself decide. Nor will you be given papers with Questions and Answers A, B, C. to analyse. Instead the workshops are conducted from an intuitive, imaginative standpoint, with, I have been told, a little inspiration thrown in. Construction is important and we will look at it when we're further along, with the many other necessary ingredients.
So you want to write a novel or short story, or maybe it's a play, film script or a poem, but you don't know how or where to begin? Don't worry, the order isn't important at this stage. All you have to do, if you have not already chosen your subject, is to put down that word, sentence, or idea that has been rushing about in your brain like a wild caged bird for so long it's sending you insane. Now spit it out, but without ornamentation or any kind of political correctness. And you have your subject or matter on which to hang whatever you chose. The next thing is to create a few characters around the word or sentence. Go wherever your voice tells you, even if it doesn't always seem to make sense or belong. What you have now, may eventually become the end or the middle of the finished work, but it will be the centre, the core, the first brick of many that you will need to build and structure your work. This is just one way in. There are others. Nervous? There's help at hand. Eager to begin? Come and open your mind to a rich and exciting experience that, with hard work and a little luck, could lead to your future involvement in the world of Creative Writing.