Poppycock and Bugaboos and Little Lambzy Divey
Or, How Workshops Can Help You Write with Wild Abandon
With the holiday rush and three storms in three-ish days, this post will be a little shorter than most...
There is one other thing taking up my time lately, which is what the topic of this post is all about. I will be presenting The Basics of Writing workshop on Thursday, January 5 at 7pm Eastern Time (North America) for the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop (NOWW) – and you’re invited! This free workshop will be available by Zoom (the link will be posted on their website here shortly before), so you can attend from anywhere in the world.
Talk about meta: that workshop, which I first presented a few years ago, has morphed into this Substack newsletter. In turn, I’ve explored a lot of topics in this newsletter and refined some other ideas that I will be presenting in this year’s workshop. I’m really excited about how one keeps feeding off the other.
Why I Really Like Writing Workshops...
Writing workshops are of course places to hear from other writers who give insights into the writing craft and life. Mine is aimed at beginner and experienced writers – though the takeaways are slightly different.
For the beginner writer, I provide helpful hints and tips want to learn how to get started with a writing routine and other tips on how to avoid some of the pitfalls writers experience. From the start, we tied it into NOWW’s Annual Writing Contest, which opens on January 1 every year. We wanted to encourage new writers to take the leap, write to a deadline, and have a goal to work towards.
But I’m also very aware that experienced writers can get a lot from this workshop too. Here are a few reasons why:
It’s helpful to hear some of the key messages over and over again such as, “Don’t think; write” and “Writing should be your secret escape, not your secret shame”
Even though I’ve been to many workshops and have been writing for a long time, I always learn something at every workshop I attend
I get inspiration and motivation by simply attending workshops
It’s this last point that I’d like to expand on here. Going to a workshop and just talking about writing feeds my excitement and makes me want to do more of it. Not only that, being together with other writers, either in person or on Zoom, gives me a sense of camaraderie. Just because we write alone doesn’t mean we have to feel alone.
Those moments inspire me, and it’s something I work hard to do for other writers in my workshop. There are some things all writers need, and inspiration is one of them.
Why? Writing is hard for so many reasons. Waking up the muse every single writing session can be difficult, and even experienced writers like Chuck Wendig report having “crap” writing days regularly. But then there are the mental games we play with ourselves, and that I’ve talked about several times in these pages. Some people group these under the heading of “writer’s block”, but of course that’s poppycock. It’s a nebulous, catch-all phrase that is semi-good at describing the symptoms, but sucks at describing the problems behind the symptoms. And without that diagnosis, “writer’s block” is incurable.
(I’ll also go into more about writer’s block in the workshop, FYI...)
Inspiration is one of the things that we can use to overcome the causes of writer’s block and all the other bugaboos we need to overcome to start putting pen to paper. And when I say all, I mean all. I’ve given dozens of examples of writers and other creative types who have felt imposter syndrome (Neil Gaiman) and fear of the blank page (Michael Connelly, sort of) and even a strong aversion to calling themselves a “real” writer (Alice Munro) – well after they became successful.
If these writers struggle with common fears and doubts, there is no shame when we feel them too.
There is also no shame in finding solutions. Finding inspiration, motivation, and camaraderie from workshops can be one solution. So join me on January 5, and let’s do all of the above together!
The Basics of Writing Workshop
Presented by Graham Strong
Date: Thursday, January 5, 2023
Time: 7pm Eastern Time in North America
Format: Zoom – check here for the link
If you know anyone else who may be interested in this workshop (or this newsletter, for that matter), please feel free to forward to them. The more the merrier!
Until next time, keep writing with wild abandon!
email me if you get lost.