Today I had the opportunity to attend a mini- workshop put on by the leader of the local library writer’s group to which I belong. The workshop focused on the building blocks of novel writing: plot, characters, setting, point of view, and all the little details that go together to make a novel work.
Most of the material wasn’t new, as we have covered a lot in the course of the year and a half I’ve been in the group. But it was helpful to put it all together at one time and to share the experience with the diverse group of writers we had in attendance.
During parts of the workshop we were given small little exercises to apply the lesson we were covering at the time, such as “Use this room as a setting for your current WIP.” Or “How could you switch Point of View in current project or in a book you love to improve or change it up?”
One of the things I loved most about the exercises was hearing everyone’s take on the same exercise and how representative the results were of who they are as a writer.
The setting exercise for the Fantasy writer became not the room we were in as I would see it, but as he would imagine it to fit his story. The fluorescent lights didn’t work so it was torch lit. The sounds weren’t kids milling about outside the library conference room but creaky wooden floors as characters paced about in heavy boots.
The non-fiction/Motivational Self Help writer described the room quite beautifully as an incubator for great ideas.
Our Young Adult novelist pictured her character looking in the glass window to the room, filled with curiosity about who and what was in the room.
Each response was similarly fitting to the author’s work. I loved watching that play out because I think we all struggle a bit with finding our own identity as a writer.
Maybe we feel we don’t have a voice as a writer.
Maybe we feel we don’t have a story to tell.
Maybe we feel we lack the talent or the nerve to tell it.
Whatever the doubt may be, the exercises today painted a picture for me of how a writer’s identity can emerge when given the freedom to trust his/her instincts. Of course our leader talked about knowing what the rules are, but once you have all those building blocks, it comes down to trusting your instincts to know what you need to write. So what I walked away with today was that our identity as a writer comes out when we trust ourselves.
Rather than say, I don’t have anything to say, remind yourself that no one else can say what you can, the way you can.
Instead of saying I don’t have the talent to write my story, remember that the only way to uncover talent is to dig in and learn the craft as you continue the work.
I don’t have everything down, I still have lots to learn, I still struggle with doubts, but I know I have stories to tell and I need to tell them. Today’s workshop helped get me closer to embracing my own identity as a writer by reminding me to trust my instincts.
Hopefully you will, too.
Have a great week. 🙂