There’s Always Something to Learn and Something to Give

Hi there, guys and dolls! My girls, Andrea and Heather just completed a fantastic group of creative writing workshops at their local library, the Mission Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library System. It was a great success for many reasons and the girls would like to share with you what they learned from the fantastic people who attended.

To recap, it was broken up into three Saturdays and discussed various aspects of writing, such as How to Start at the Beginning (focusing on one project, getting it started and making time for it no matter what your schedule), When and How to Edit and How to Know you are Done (getting through the first draft, editing and how do you determine when it’s finished and time to let it go out in the world), and Congratulations, you’ve Finished your Masterpiece – Now What (various forms of getting your work into the hands of readers – whether it be through major, indie or self publishing, a blog or collection of essays, poetry or musings, for a large or small audience).

They met some great people in various stages of the writing process – some had work sitting in drawers, just waiting for them to get to it, others had various ideas floating around, wanting to be given a voice, some had collections of musings, seeming unrelated to each other, yet had a common theme.

The girls began by talking about giving your writing reverence, making it a priority, allowing the ideas to  flow and to dictate the form those ideas will take. They talked to the attendees about free forming and allowing the words to play and take shape, experiment on where and how they like to write – with music, in silence, in busy places; try different things out, but the biggest thing is to make time and let it flow. They encouraged them to try different ways – a little every day, or long, concentrated sessions, figuring out what feels right. The biggest thing? Just do, don’t censor, criticize, or edit. That can come later.  Shake the tree and see what falls out. Give it time and something will.

The wonderful thing that came from that first meeting was that people who had let their projects lay dormant came back and told them how trying that awakened their minds and got them going on them again, with renewed focus and vigor. One attendee started looking very closely at what she had started years ago and realized she may have a larger body of work in the making, and felt very proud of what she had already done, and could see great viability in what she was doing.

The second time they met, the girls talked about editing and research, the niggly bits. Sources and resources for clarification in research, flow and consistency, crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s, and how important it was at this point not to let someone like your Aunt Mabel (you know what I mean, a voracious reader who would compare your fragile magnum opus still in its birthing stage to the greatest novel ever published, after it’s been through years of publication and professional revision and who would give your hard work a resounding, “Meh,” or worse) read it. They talked about how when you have done your very best and it feel it is ready to be published, and how to let it go when it feels hard. A great way to do so? Take a fresh page and put one word on it. Start a new project. Even if your first word changes, or you don’t get back to it because you’re busy shopping around your project or life gets you hopping, you have begun something new and it can be easier to let go of the old.

The third session was about various levels and forms of publishing, breaking it down into the basics of major, indie and self publishing, and the business aspects, pros and cons that go along with it. They also discussed social media and publicity, the good, the bad and the ugly. It was a fair amount of information, and was both insightful and overwhelming, leaving many questions and scenarios to ponder in our ever-changing world. They discussed their successes and failures, but walked away so happy, knowing that what they had said had sparked some minds, answered some questions and renewed beliefs in their own abilities, feeling that they had contributed and made a difference in some people’s lives, as well as been inspired and encouraged by those who had taken part.

They ended the course by saying that whatever the participants do, just write. Get it done, get it out there, and have a great creative adventure.

Would they do it again? In a heartbeat.

Toodles,

Barbara Jean

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About Barbara Jean Coast

Barbara Jean Coast is the pen name of authors Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff. She is currently hard at work telling the cozy tales of the fictional town of Santa Lucia, loosely based on Santa Barbara in the late 50's, early 60's, known as The Poppy Cove Mysteries.
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