Author and editor Louis Menand writing in the New Yorker in 2009 was deeply skeptical about the traditional workshop method.
“Creative-writing programs are designed on the theory that students who have never published a poem can teach other students who have never published a poem how to write a publishable poem”
The case in favour
Writing workshops aren’t a teaching forum in the conventional sense – peer review doesn’t mean expert review
Workshops are a collaborative activity that helps writing evolve through drafts and revisions. A workshop is a rehearsal, not a performance.
New students often worry that they don’t know enough to give constructive feedback, forgetting that you don’t need any qualifications to be a reader. What they are giving is focused attention and sometimes the most useful comments are also the most straightforward such as I don’t understand or I got confused at that point…
A workshop can help a writer discover many things including that the story he or she has written isn’t the story they set out to write. None of this will necessarily make someone more publishable, but it may make them a better reader of their own writing.