Our last three Creative Writing workshops went very well. First we focused on an important topic: a writer’s self confidence and belief in one's own capabilities. The next workshop centered on the basics of editing and helpful revision techniques. The most recent workshop featured a discussion about online writing communities and how one can benefit from a writer-community’s support when one begins to feel emotionally drained or just plain lonely during the intense periods of productive writing.
Although I have participated in a few writing classes and workshops with modest success, I do not always feel confident in my abilities as a writer. There are good days and not so good days, with days that are too unproductive to count at all. The main thing I do to keep myself interested in my writing projects is take a break and read a few pages of advice from a helpful writing guide.
Productively Managing the Impulse
One of the most helpful books about having perseverance for the writing craft is If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland. This slim volume is full of inspirational anecdotes with a fair amount of humor. I have kept this by my desk for many years and I never tire of taking a quick peek whenever I feel like putting down my pen and doing the dishes instead.
Stet and Stet Again
Rewriting and editing are necessary parts of the writing craft, despite how difficult it is to accept that the words did not spill out onto the page in perfect form on the first attempt. I have never heard of an author who did not have to edit and rewrite a significant amount of what they had considered a finished manuscript.
Diagram that Sentence
Basic editing, grammar and syntax are taught in elementary school and drilled to near perfection in high school. However, in the intervening years it is easy to lose those basics when they are not required for day to day communications.
Shed the Shame
I used to feel embarrassed whenever I was in a situation where I felt stumped about the proper grammar or syntax to use. Lucky for me, there are many writers who find themselves in the same predicament, and there are a number of guide books available to help you overcome the grammar hurdle and continue with your story telling. I recommend a nifty little book titled The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier: How to Solve the Seven Mysteries of Weak Writing by Bonnie Trenga--it is a simple and straightforward guide to editing and rewriting.
Support from Afar
Online writing communities are ever increasing in popularity on the Internet. Some of these communities require a fee, while others are free. The old saying that you get what you pay for is true in this scenario. I do not know how the success of online writer’s community is measured, nor how can it be much different than that of a traditional writing community or group. I accept that either type of community could be successful if all of the members feel supported and confident that they are getting closer to publication.
On that note, one of the most successful books about the best ways to use the encouragement of peers in a writing community is No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty.
The author was able to turn his writing guide into a successful online writing community, as well as becoming the driving force behind National Novel Writing Month taking place every November.
Josephine Villegas, a volunteer with the Brisbane library, has coordinated the 90 Minutes Writers Workshop as a way for the library to reach out to the writing community while also giving herself one less excuse for not working on her novel.