Teaching journal writing is both fun and challenging. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Find A Location
Journal writing workshops can be taught in a lot of different places. If you have a friendly local bookstore that has the space, talk to the manager there and see if you can teach your class there. It would be helpful to know before asking if the bookstore in question does that type if thing, so see if you can find a calendar sheet or something first. Some other options include a local library, community center or school. If you have the right amount of experience and you believe you could get enough participants, you might also check into teaching a night class at a local community college.
When you are teaching a high participation class such as journal writing, class size matters. While you may have some experience to draw upon in that regard, the rule of thumb is to keep your class to somewhere between ten and twenty participants. If you are going to have more students than that, you will want to start thinking of ways to divide the class into groups for some of your exercises, as this is a sometimes the only way to make sure that everyone’s voice is going to be heard.
When and What to Charge
The parameters of your location will usually dictate whether you are able to charge for your services or not. Community colleges, for instance, will usually pay their teachers, while some bookstores or community centers may not. In either case you would do well to keep in mind that you are not likely going to make a living teaching journal writing, and that this is best done as a labor of love. That being said, you are perfectly within your rights to ask for a little bit of recompense for your time and materials. Sometimes, donations will be enough, sometimes you may have to charge a small fee to your students. Another thing to keep in mind is that people tend to value what they pay for, and devalue that which is free.
Teaching and Guiding
In journal writing, often the idea is to get your students to write as freely as possible. And while it would seem that the notion of writing in such a way would free your students up, it often has the opposite effect. It is best, then to provide some guidance such as a weekly theme for your students to expound upon. Some ideas include: first memories, writing about what they saw on the way to class, dream journaling, etc.
As far as your own training goes, give a little bit of time to studying the work of some of your favorite memoir writers and bring some of their methods into your lessons.
Create an Anthology
While journals are meant to be private documents, there are always some students who are willing and able to share their writing with the world. For those students, you can compile a book of the writings of your class, and give or sell them copies. Thermal (hardcover) binding machines are remarkably inexpensive and easy to use, so having one at your disposal can even make you a few bucks if you are willing to go the do it yourself route.