Why Not Start Creative Writing When You Have The Time ?
Olive Broderick, who organises the writing group Words for Castle Ward sessions, has explained that due to coronavirus, meetings have been postponed for the forseable future.
The writing group which nurtures budding writers and has reading and feedback sessions, meets at the Castle Ward education centre. Olive said: “My wish is for health, safety and peace of mind for all in these disturbing days.
“I am aware our coming meeting is a feedback meeting and so I’m sending a portable workshop, if you like, that you can do at anytime or as many times as you wish as it is useful exercise in a world of imposed and necessary physical social distancing.”
Continued Acts of Creativity.
Olive added: “I notice that many people are writing at the moment. The whole of life, and a good many online writing facilitators, are offering prompts if you are stuck for inspiration. Indeed, if you happen to be creatively blocked in that aspect, this workshop might well work for you. Everyone is welcome. Feel free to pass it on to anyone who might be interested. Check the weblink for more information.”
“It may not be your experience, but I find that I can do a first write pretty easily and anywhere if the humour is on me. The next phase, however, does thrive on an abundance of ‘set-aside’ time and solitude. Hence my thinking that this might work well in the prevailing circumstances.
“You will have worked out now that I am talking about one of my favourite parts of the writing process (poetry for me, of course) – editing. But here in an experimental, and hopefully fun, fashion.”
- Select a piece – poem, or, for prose writers, a not too long piece, whether extract or short form. Preferably a piece you have written a while ago to which you are not overly attached.
- Read the piece out loud as many times as is feasible. Lose yourself in the reading of it. ‘Hear’ every word if you can. If you happen to have anybody about, ask them to read it back too (but not at all necessary).
- Read it a little bit more.
- Then make a list of all the things you like about it (don’t spare the horses, there is nobody here to contradict you, and we both know you rock); the things you have a little bit of a doubt about (like you understand a line or a plot device but you have a horrible feeling somebody else mightn’t.. and it wouldn’t be a want of intelligence on their part, if you know what I mean, that they don’t); and, finally, the things you know wouldn’t pass muster with the group…
- Then ask yourself, what are you really writing about? You are completely in control here. You decide.
- Now set all but no. 5 aside. (Note: if you love the piece as it is you can come back and work through your lists of poem/prose potential improvements generated in no. 4 as per normal editing protocol).
- So you have the core of the piece at the front of your imagination…
- Now transpose it into a completely different setting. For example, if your piece is about regeneration and is currently speaking through a strong Spring situation, then choose something radically different, for example, outer space or, as my eye falls as I’m typing, an angle-poise lamp. For another example, if your story is about family dynamics and is currently set in Japan, take the dynamic and set it (casting my eyes around the room) in a factory that makes Venetian glass vases (okay the vase is reminiscent of Venetian). These are just random examples but I hope you get the general idea.
- This may feel a bit artificial but stick with it. This workshop exists in the world of experimention. It would be really difficult to do at an actual workshop unless you had a good bit of time. The gift of it is a bit of imagination exercising – and a radical consideration of what is essential to a piece. There are, of course, no right answers. While my attitude here is one of playfulness. I mean light touch here – the piece itself can be dark, heavy or otherwise etc as is authentic to the piece (however you judge it).
- For those, who are thinking of joining in but haven’t attended a workshop with me, you are very welcome. Please do be aware that you, through absolutely no fault of your own, may be feeling that you only have a vague idea of what’s involved.. and then inspiration on an excellent,creative way forward will arise through the vagueness. I would like to reassure you this is normal and that will be the perfect direction. I also admire renegade creative behaviour. So if the angle-poise lamp has taken you off the path of the original but you are moving forward do continue. Finally, this is a situation where you can take more than one constitutional in any given day. (Please do move around a bit when doing any kind of editing so that body is in the same place of tiredness as the mind afterwards – without leaving your patch of social distance, it goes without saying).
- When finished, and at a time that suits you, do take both pieces and do the normal spit-n-polish editing for both (spelling, grammar, making sure that you have the most elegant choice of words, the best title, lines that scan, names and dates that tally, rhythm that is regular as fits both pieces and your genre).
- For WfCW face-to-face members, at the next IRL (in real time!) meeting bring both pieces for sharing.
Editing in a time of Illness
“All of this comes with an important caveat. Do this only if you feel you would like to or that it would benefit your writing,” said Olive. “A weird thing I discovered over an extended period of illness was that editing is actually quite exhausting. Who knew? While hopefully you are in spendid isolation or solitary confinement, however you experience lockdown, and remain very healthy – and as the weeks go on, there is the possibility that there may be a fair amount of illness and unease around you (hopefully not at all, or mild) of one type or another.
“Covid-19 may be the novel kid in town – and it’s rode in with an ugly gang of anxieties and stresses – but it’s not the only one. If you find yourself in this position, give yourself permission to take time out from writing – and focus on healing and recuperation.”