Creative Writing Tracks 101

You can read my advice and the articles I find all day long, but that doesn’t mean you are going to become a better writer because of it. You need to practice your skills, keep learning, and interact with other writers. Whenever I see a great development opportunity, I like to mention it here. You never know where you will find your next “A-HA” moment.

mediabistro

This time I came across two different writing “tracks” offered by Mediabistro. Full disclosure, they do cost money and they aren’t cheap ($999 to be exact). One focuses on novel writing, while the other one is for magazine writing. Each track consists of 3 different courses: 4 weeks of writing basics, 6 weeks where you choose a specialty you would like to focus on, and a 6 week workshop where you get expert advice/feedback. It seems like there is a ton of great advice packed into four months, so maybe that price tag is worth it (or maybe a whole new wardrobe is more worth it…). If you have never taken a writing class or had the opportunity to interact with a writing professional, this might be something to save up for. I have no idea what the class actually involves, who the “experts” are, or what people who have previously taken the class have to say about it. If you are seeking an intensive and structured writing course, this may just be for you. Mediabistro is a very reputable resource, so it’s definitely worth looking into. Learn on. Write on.

The Value of a Memory

We talk often about why we write, how/when we write, and how to write. But what about the value of the act of writing? Why do something if we don’t understand it’s importance and benefits? An article in The Courier-Journal captured exactly why writing is extremely important and moreover, how it benefits the writer themselves.

Angela Burton teaches ‘Oh, I Remember’ writing workshops in retirement homes in the Louisville area and the classes are quickly spreading. This is one of the best ideas I have heard in a long time and it really made me think about why we should all be writing. Seniors in the retirement home meet weekly, bringing along their weekly writing assignments. They use the class time to read their writing to each other. Most of the stories are about their childhood, people who have long passed on, places they have visited, losses they have endured, and historical events they have witnessed.

Many of these seniors feel isolated, alone, and segregated from the life they used to have. Most of them feel like they no longer have a purpose and that their life is already over, even though they are very much still alive. The act of writing and sharing lets them relive their happiest moments, process the loss they still feel, and learn new facts about their friends. At the end of the day, writing is therapeutic, relaxing, and rewarding. These seniors feel like they are leaving something behind, that otherwise would be lost. They feel as if they still have something to contribute to society.

senior

For me, that perfectly captures the spirit of writing. Writing is meant for communication, for preservation, for learning. We write to share our stories, whether they are figments of our imagination or real life events. We write as therapy to make ourselves feel better, whether it is an e-mail that never gets sent, a poem about a life event, or a novel length memoir. Writing is an accomplishment, something to be proud of. Our sense of purpose is never clearer then after a heartfelt and honest writing session.

The effects these writing classes are having on these senior citizens emphasizes why we all need to be writing. The next time you pick up a pad of paper and pen or sit down at your computer, just stop to think for a few seconds. Think about why you are doing this and how it makes you feel. Take that knowledge and treasure it for your entire life. Never let it go and never stop writing. Write on.

Practices Does Make Perfect

Sometimes, as writers, we might feel a little lost. We might feel like our writing needs a little improvement/practice or that it is simply just missing that special something. This can be particularly frustrating when we don’t have any other writing friends. How can anyone possibly understand what I am going through? How can anyone help me?

pubornot

Whether you are equipped with writing friends/mentors or not, there are many writing tools available right here on the internet to help you and your writing. As some of you may already know, I created my own writing website to help writers digest and work through their ideas before (or during) the writing process- it’s called To Publish Or Not. The way it works is that writers/authors can submit a brief description of what their book they are writing (or planning to write) is about or you can send in a brief description and a short excerpt of your book. I will respond with a few things to think about, expand upon, possibly stuff to take out/not include, or things that you should be weary about. I make sure to stress that this writing service is to be used solely as a writing workshop exercise. My opinion is mine only and not meant to discourage, nor overly encourage. Oh, and did I mention? It’s completely free.

I also came across another article on NewsOK about four other helpful writing tools available online. Check them out and see what works for you. You never know what will be your next game-changer.

ProWritingAid

The Pensters

750 Words

Story Wars

Keep practicing. Write on.

If You Build It, They Will Come

On this blog, I write a great deal about the importance of editing, using proper grammar, and fine tuning your writing skills. I suggest advice and resources without ever pin pointing any real academic options for how to improve your writing abilities. I came across an awesome academic writing option in early June that I have been meaning to share with you.

Murray State’s MFA program in Kentucky is offering a free community writing workshop this summer on July 11th and July 12th. Julia Watts is the faculty member responsible for the workshop and explains that the goal is to “generate work and spark ideas to develop stories.”  Any time you are given an opportunity to get out and learn from someone who has ‘been there,’ Watts has authored thirteen novels, you take it. I think the deadline to sign up for the workshop (if you happen to live in or be in the area) has already passed (but, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still try). Despite the passing deadline, there still is a lot we can learn from something like this.

One, many opportunities like this exist all over the world. Do some research and find out what writing resources are available in your area. The value of getting out there and talking and working with other writers (even just once or twice a year) is priceless.

Second, you can listen to Watts talk about her workshop, it’s goals, and process, through the interview clip in the article. Maybe you can get some of your writer friends together and do your own workshop. Or perhaps you are more adventurous and want to try hosting a larger writing workshop in your own area. If you can’t find a workshop that works for you, build one- if you build it, they will come.

workshop

Lastly, Watts highlights the importance of many things I talk about right here on my blog- maybe I am not talking senseless gibberish after all. Watts points out that many people have great ideas for beginnings and endings to their books, but find it hard to finish the work and add the “in-between” stuff. She recommends, yet again, writing down all the thoughts and ideas that come into your head. Just sit down and write what you are feeling in that moment, even if you know you will likely end up throwing it all away. As Watts says, every first draft is imperfect- that’s what the editing process is for. But first, you need to get your words on paper.

Watts also teaches the importance of writers supporting other writers, which is really great to hear. We need to learn how to support each other, instead of tearing each other down. We need to be able to objectively look at our fellow peers writing and evaluate, continually improving their writing and our own. Watts also recommends having an editor look at your work, even if you are self-publishing. Polished work should not be underestimated.

As writers, we should always be learning, evolving, and helping. Write on.